Friday, 8 November 2013

Pachelbel's Canon on a guitar

I was at Barts today for my 3 weekly intravenous infusion of Herceptin.  As I went up the escalator at St Paul's station, I heard a busker playing Pachelbel's Canon on a guitar.

Pachelbel's Canon is my favourite classical piece - I could listen to it for hours.  The guitar rendition was slightly unusual as it is more commonly performed with cello and harpsichord or organ.  It must be very difficult to do well on a guitar but it really fitted my mood.  I went back down the escalator and gave the busker some coins and continued to listen until he'd finished.

The canon was written around 1680 and Johann Pachelbel's most famous (or perhaps only famous) composition and is one of the popular Baroque pieces. It was largely forgotten for centuries and only rediscovered in the early 20th century.

What is a canon in the musical sense?  A canon is a piece of music characterised by repetition.  Pachelbel's Canon begins with one melody which is repeated in different registers, growing and evolving each time.

The canon is joyful, serene but lively. I find it both intoxicating and soothing.

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