Thoughts on Pachabel’s Canon

Thoughts on I-V-iv-V

One reason I wanted to use Pachelbel’s Canon, is because it has a very well known chord progression. The chord progression for Pachelbel’s Canon is I-V-vi-iii-IV-I-IV-V. As noted by comedian Rob Paravonian, it could be considered the first pop song.

There is some truth to that, because a shortening Pachelbel’s Canon chord progression one can easily derive the [in]famous I-V-vi-IV chord progression, which has been used in a lot of songs. Most famously parodied by Axis of Awesome in their song “Four Chords”.

However, one needs to know, that copying a chord progression does not mean a song has been copied. Music, like many arts forms, contains make aspects to define a work of art. In analyzing a typical piece of music one has to consider melody, harmony [which includes the chord progression], and rhythm.

I think a better question to ask is what is about the I-V-vi-IV progression that causes it to reappear in so many pieces of music. I think the chord progression encapsulates a journey, musically. I also think one of its strength lies in the fact that the first chord is the tonic, which works by giving the progression a center. In other words it is sort of the short musical version of the Monomyth.

About ForeverTangent
Currently a Masters of Computer Science Student at the University of Kentucky. Previous Masters of Entertainment Technology from Carnegie Mellon. Before that Graduated from Berklee College of Music. I have worked for Public Radio and the Video Games industry. Most of my interests now are UI and Accessibility Issues for Technology.

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