Sunday, February 20, 2011

On listening again to Pachelbel's Canon

Being condemned to forced leisure has meant listening to a lot of little heard music on my ipod. This brought be recently to Pachelbel's Canon of which I seem to have a number of versions.

It is not an exaggeration to say that it is one of the most beautiful short baroque pieces ever written. It's a piece that I find I can listen to over and over again, the beauty and joy that pervades this piece washes over you in soothing waves. It's such a pity therefore that the Canon (and the accompanying Gigue) has been relegated to what is derisively referred to as 'elevator music' and indeed one hears it mostly in malls, elevators and as background scores to documentaries.

A piece of music that has stayed with us for 300 years must have something going for it. (How much of our present day music will last that long?). In his time Pachelbel was a major baroque composer and its a pity most of his work has vanished. This work is in traditional contrapunctal style with three violins, with a bass continuo providing the background and is believed to have been composed on the occasion of the marriage of Johann Christoph Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach's elder brother.

Mozart and Bach will last for ever, but so will a little known Pachelbel's little gem, despite its fate at the hands of present day remixers.

Tailpiece: I realise many people will not share my opinion. Here is a very funny video about why a cellist could come to hate Pachelbel's canon.

2 comments:

Satish said...

It's always good to see a fellow lover of Pachelbel's Canon. I have studied Western Classical Music Theory and hence can presume to appreciate a music critically. Its been nearly four years since I first listened to the canon and it still retains its charm. Its arresting beauty is due to its exceptional counterpoint. Such music so sublime, makes the heart rend from aesthetic ecstasy. The popular music of now ? One can only shake his head... or should remain mute or stare with indifference. But, I do secretly hope that such music remain unpopular. I sometimes feel I have special relationship with music which is appreciated by few. the same goes with any other art form.

AmOK said...

Shackles of leisure liberate the mind to wander unfettered towards the music of the grand canonical ensembles. Are you on parole now and when is your release into the wild? YHS OLO.