Canon in D

By: Johann Pachelbel
For: String quartet
page one of Canon in D

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Johann Pachelbel
Year of composition
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
5 minutes
Classical music
License details
For anything not permitted by the above licence then you should contact the publisher first to obtain permission.

Johann Pachelbel was a well-known musician in his day. He composed a multitude of works for the organ (his native instrument), along with motets, sacred concertos, keyboard suites, and pieces in a variety of other genres. Of all these hundreds of compositions, however, far and away his best-known work is the Canon in D major, known colloquially as Pachelbel's Canon. This short piece has become a mainstay of chamber orchestras and other musicians and ensembles throughout the world. It has been arranged for almost any instrument or combination of instruments one might imagine, from synthesizer to brass quintet, and has been adapted for musical styles from jazz to new age.

A canon is simply an imitative piece in which one instrument plays a melody, and part way into it another instrument joins in with the same tune, followed by one or more further instruments. In the case of Pachelbel's work, a two bar ostinato (or repeating melodic phrase) in the bass becomes the foundation for a set of 28 variations, in which three violins interact in canon with one another. Baroque convention would have this work performed in a moderate-to-fast tempo; however, the work is most often heard played slowly. Played thus, the Canon becomes a quite beautiful and meditative work. Only occasionally is the Canon played in tandem with the lively Gigue that Pachelbel intended to follow it.

I have taken this piece and re-arranged it in simple duple time, which has the result of doubling the lengths of the notes. This means that the 32nd notes become 16th notes and so on, and the music is therefore a lot easier to read. The third violin part has been re-written as a viola part, but some of the top notes have been lowered an octave to better suit the range of the instrument.

This arrangement also comes with an optional double bass part for use with string orchestra.

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The Nutcracker - Overture, Pavane, Op.50, Slavonic Dance, Op.72 No.2, Marche Militaire, Op.51 No.1, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, Maple Leaf Rag, Serenade No.10 "Gran Partita" - 3. Adagio, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 7. Badinerie, O Christmas Tree, Marche Militaire, Op.51 No.1, Le Coucou, Tales From The Vienna Woods, Kinderszenen, Op.15 No.13 Der Dichter Spricht (The Poet Speaks), Berceuse, Op.16, Suite Bergamasque - No.3 Clair de Lune, Piano Sonata in A "Alla Turca" - 3. Rondo, The Washington Post March, The Liberty Bell March, Serenade No.10 "Gran Partita" - 6. Theme and variations, Holberg Suite - 4. Air, We Three Kings, Trombone Johnsen, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 3. Sarabande, Humoresque, Op.101 No.7, Emperor Waltz, Lohengrin - The Bridal Chorus, String Sonata No.1 - 2. Andante, Policy King, Symphony No.29 - 3. Menuetto, Holberg Suite - 5. Rigaudon, The Entertainer, Concerto in D minor for 2 Violins - 3. Allegro, Anvil Chorus, from "Il Trovatore", Anvil Chorus, from "Il Trovatore", L'Estate ("Summer") - 3. Presto, Hands Across The Sea, Artist's Life Waltz, Brook Green Suite - 3. Dance, L'Inverno ("Winter") - 3. Allegro, Concerto for Two Violins "L'estro armonico" Op.3 No.8 - Movement 1, The Ragtime Dance, Concerto for Two Violins "L'estro armonico" Op.3 No.8 - Movement 3, Brandenburg Concerto No.5 - 3. Allegro, The Carnival of the Animals - The Swan, Duet: Sous le dome epais, from "Lakme", L'Inverno ("Winter") - 1. Allegro non molto, L'Autunno ("Autumn") - 1. Allegro, O Come, All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fidelis), Largo al factotum, from "The Barber of Seville", Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix, from "Samson et Dalila", L'Inverno ("Winter") - 2. Largo, O soave fanciulla, from "La boheme", Holberg Suite - 1. Prelude, Brandenburg Concerto No.3 - 1. Allegro, Holberg Suite - 3. Gavotte and Musette, Sextet: Chi mi frena, from "Lucia di Lammermoor", Capriol Suite, Si. Mi chiamano Mimi, from "La boheme", Concerto in D minor for 2 Violins - 1. Vivace, Sonata "Pathetique" Op.13 - 1. Grave - Allegro, Sonata "Pathetique" Op.13 - 2. Adagio cantabile, String Sonata No.1 - 1. Moderato, Sonata in A, KV 331 - 2. Menuetto and Trio, String Sonata No.1 - 3. Allegro, Song to the Moon, from "Rusalka", 16 Songs for Children, Op.54 No.6 Legend ("When Jesus Christ Was Yet A Child"), La Primavera ("Spring") - 1. Allegro, Trio No.1, Concerto in D minor for 2 Violins - 2. Largo ma non tanto, Trio No.3, Symphony No.29 - 4. Allegro con spirito, Who Let The Cows Out? - For Sax Quartet (AATB), La Primavera ("Spring") - 3. Allegro: Danza pastorale, L'Autunno ("Autumn") - 2. Adagio molto, Symphony No.40 - 4. Allegro assai, The Marriage of Figaro - Overture, The Amazon Rag, The Blue Danube Waltzes, Lullaby, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, A Midsummer Night's Dream Op.61 - Scherzo, La Primavera ("Spring") - 2. Largo, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 4. Bourree I and II, The Flight of the Bumble Bee, Roses From The South, Once in Royal David's City, Serenade No.10 , Symphony No.29 - 1. Allegro moderato, The Holly And The Ivy, Babes in Toyland - March of the Toys, Unto Us A Child Is Born, Wine, Women and Song, Rosamunde - Ballet Music No.2, Silent Night, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 2. Rondeau, Serenade No.10 "Gran Partita" - 2. Menuetto; Trio 1; Trio 2, Pictures at an Exhibition - Promenade, The Blue Danube Waltzes, Symphony No.25 - 2. Andante, Angels We Have Heard On High, William Tell - Overture, Water Music Suite No.2 in D, I Saw Three Ships, Symphony No.40 - 1. Allegro molto, Brandenburg Concerto No.6 - 2. Adagio ma non tanto, Slavonic Dance, Op.46 No.7, O come, O come, Emmanuel, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, Swan Lake - Dance of the Cygnets, La Damnation de Faust - Rakoczy March, Brandenburg Concerto No.3 - 2. Adagio - Allegro, Orchestral Suite No.3 - 4. Bourree, Symphonie Fantastique - 2. Un Bal, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 1. Overture, Brandenburg Concerto No.5 - 1. Allegro, Away In A Manger, Souvenir d'un lieu cher, Op.42 - No.3 Melodie, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 5. Polonaise and Double, Song Without Words No.27 "Funeral March" Op.62 No.3, Solomon - Act III, Sinfonia "Arrival of the Queen of Sheba", Thais - Meditation, Symphony No.40 - 2. Andante, Auld Lang Syne, A Midsummer Night's Dream Op.61 - Nocturne, The Coventry Carol, The Merry Wives of Windsor - Overture, Habanera from "Carmen", Symphony No.25 - 4. Allegro, Gymnopedie No.1, Water Music Suite No.3 in G, Habanera from "Carmen", Gradual, Espana - 2. Tango, Ave Maria, Op.52 No.6, Birthday Minuet, Kinderszenen, Op.15 No.7 Traumerei (Dreaming), Children's Corner, No.6 The Golliwog's Cake-Walk, Carmen - Act 1: Prelude, The Barber of Seville - Overture, In Dulci Jubilo, Symphony No.40 - 3. Menuetto, La Cinquantaine, Slavonic Dance, Op.46 No.8, O Little Town Of Bethlehem (1), Deck The Halls, Brandenburg Concerto No.2 - 1. Allegro, O Holy Night and 1812 Overture

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