From the August 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar | BY ADAM PERLMUTTER


Sometime in the late 1600s or early 1700s—the exact date isn’t known—the German composer Johann Pachelbel wrote his Canon and Gigue for 3 violins and basso continuo. The piece was initially well received, but as Baroque music went out of fashion, it lay in obscurity for centuries, until a 1968 interpretation by the French conductor Jean-François Paillard led to many other recordings and performances. 

By the 1980s, “Pachelbel’s Canon,” as it’s informally named, was one of the most well-known pieces in the classical canon—at least by the general public. Its stately, repetitive chord progression continues to make it a remarkably common selection for wedding processions.

A recent survey of AG readers suggests that they have either attended or performed at an abundance of weddings, as “Pachelbel’s Canon” was an often-requested selection. Due to popular demand, the composition is presented here for guitar in a compact arrangement that will sound just as good on the steel-string as the nylon-string.


Advertisement


The piece is in the key of D, and the arrangement is in dropped-D tuning, as the open sixth string adds depth and richness on select D chords. That familiar four-bar progression—D–A–Bm–F#–G–D–G–A, two chords per measure—repeats throughout while the melody receives a bunch of variations.

These variations can be played on guitar with pretty standard fingerings—remember to fret the low G with your fourth finger, and the melody notes should fall into place. Things get a little tricky, though, in bars 14–15 and 17–20, where the fretting hand needs to do a bit of gymnastics to play the melody. Follow the suggested fingerings, or work up some of your own. 

REV_P-Cannon_1

REV_P-Cannon_2


This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.

Comments