Pachelbel Canon in C

Anne Ku introduces Pachelbel’s famous Canon to beginners of piano.


Johann Pachelbel’s most famous work is his Canon in D. George Winston played his version of it in the key of C. Why not? C is 2 sharps easier than D major.

Is it possible to decompose it further? Simplify it so that even beginners can have fun with it?

I recall a post-concert spontaneous “jam session” in Houston, Texas where Robert on his guitar and I on the piano played the chords of Pachelbel and the host improvised on his flute. It was such fun that I wanted to do it again.

A canon, by definition, is a piece of music where one voice repeats the part of another, throughout the whole piece. Pachelbel’s Canon is often subtitled with “basso ostinato” — a repetitive bass. Once you know the bass line and the sequence of chords, you can repeat it over and over again.

Pachelbel's Canon arranged for solo and group playing by Anne Ku
Pachelbel's Canon arranged for solo and group playing by Anne Ku

In the above score, notice there are 4 parts. Four different players can play in sequence. The first begins. The second joins at the beginning when the first reaches rehearsal mark A. Similarly the third player joins at the beginning when the first reaches rehearsal mark B and the second reaches rehearsal mark A.  And so on.

Of course there is more development than these 16 bars, but at least beginners can play this.

I googled “Pachelbel Canon and C” and discovered that others have arranged simple versions for solo piano in the key of C. And there are plenty of free sheet music on the Internet such as this one.

Author: BLOGmaiden

As one of the earliest bloggers (since 1999), I enjoy meeting people who embrace "out-of-the-box" thinking and fear not the unknown. I believe in collaboration for sustainability because it increases stakeholder value.

One thought on “Pachelbel Canon in C”

  1. Such lovely gentle piece, and so timeless. It’s amazing to think that Johann Pachelbel’s Canon Baroque composition was popular at it’s time of composition somewhere around 1680-1695(exact date unsure), then remained in obscurity for centuries. The first publishing of it happened in 1919, and first performance in 1940, would lead to it\s popular reemergence in 1968 by a chamber orchestra.
    I first become familiar with the piece by an album and subsequently, a concert by pianist George Winston. He played “Variations on the Kanon by Johann Pachelbel” on his solo piano album, “December”.
    I had the great fortune of hearing Winston perform live, playing in Honolulu at the Neil Blaisdell Center. Winston had it included this piece on his in 1982 tour. After the concert I met with Winston backstage; he was a soft spoken man and greeted me with the softest handshake.

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