Pachelbel's Canon Progression

Pachelbel's following me. It sounds paranoid but he's following you too, you hear him every day.
Rob Paravonian

A Chord Progression made famous by the well-known Pachelbel's Canon in D major, which is the Trope Namer.

The progression is usually in a major key, and usually runs as follows: I V vi iii IV I IV V (repeat). If in a minor key, it is usually: i v VI III iv i iv V (repeat). Occasionally, II or ii or ii° may be substituted for the last IV/iv, and I or I6 (or i or i6) may be substituted for the iii or III. An example can be heard here.

Comedian Rob Paravonian famously ranted about the ubiquity of this progression, although most of his medley would be better placed in The Four Chords of Pop. He has a point, though... (Interestingly, substituting I6 for iii as stated above allows the two tropes to overlap.)


Examples:

  • Pachelbel's "Canon in D", and thus any songs based around a sample of it:
    • Toward the end of Pachelbel's original work, the iii harmony on the F# is replaced by a first-inversion V7 of IV (momentarily touching on G major) for a different harmonic color.
    • Coolio - "C U When U Get There"
    • Monty Python - "Decomposing Composers"
    • Vitamin C - "Graduation Song (Friends Forever)". Uses III instead of iii in the progression.
  • In Blues Traveler's "Hook" from their album Four, Canon in D is the hook.
  • Mega Man 4's prologue uses this once.
  • Coven - "One Tin Soldier"
  • Pet Shop Boys - "Go West" (originally by the Village People, but the progression was purposely played up in the cover)
    • The song's melody, meanwhile, is based on the Soviet national anthem!
    • It's still a copy of "Give Thanks", a Christian worship song written by Henry Smith one year earlier. (YouTube)
      • Which in turn is a copy of Ralph McTell's "Streets of London", released four years before that.
  • DragonForce - "Valley of the Damned" (chorus and instrumental part)
  • Aerosmith - "Cryin'" (actually interpolates "Canon in D" in the bridge)
  • The Farm - "All Together Now"
  • Parts of the ending music from Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Parts of the U.S.S.R. national anthem.
  • Green Day - "Basket Case", just missing that last IV chord (goes directly from I to V)
  • Belle and Sebastian - "Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying", which transposes the Canon progression to Db Major, just a half-tone down from D but very difficult to play!
  • COOL&CREATE - "Help Me, Erin!", a super happy fun dance/techno remix of a rock remix (of the same name) of a Touhou track. This link starts at where that high melody comes in, which is where we get the progression, with a ii substituting for the last IV.
  • The track "Lemming 1" from Lemmings. The last four chords are slightly different, being IV V I V.
  • Alfred J. Kwak: The main theme, sung in the original Dutch by Herman van Veen. The ending theme halfway does it, but mixes around the order of chords in the second half of the progression.
  • "People Change" by Rockapella, originally from their album "2."
  • The Decemberween version of the intro theme music from Homestar Runner apparantly sounds like this.
  • The bassline to the Eight Melodies theme from MOTHER uses a slight variation: I IV vi iii IV I IV V.
  • "Yatta!" by Happatai, used in the animutation "Irrational Exuberance".
  • Minor key version: "Sprinting Spirits" by Sato Naoki, from the Eureka Seven soundtrack, volume 2 disc 1.
  • "Komm, Süsser Tod" from The End of Evangelion
  • Spiritualized's "Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space"
  • The Osmonds' "Love Me for a Reason", later covered by Boyzone.
  • "I Can Be Your Friend" from the Veggie Tales video Are You My Neighbor?
  • "Tsubasa wo Kudasai," known to non-Japanese anime fans from K-On! and Rebuild of Evangelion.
  • Scatman John's "Scat Man's World" uses the chord progression.
  • "Anthem" from Bill and Ted's Excellent Musical.
  • Tokyo Ghetto Pussy - "I Kiss Your Lips"
  • Cascada's "Another You".
  • Family - Dame estrellas o limones
  • "Jolly Old St. Nicholas".
  • The verses of "Mirai Start", the Japanese theme song of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
    • The franchise's signature "My little pony, my little pony," jingle also qualifies, although it's only long enough to make it through the progression's first half.
  • "One Day More" from Les Misérables.
  • "Don't Look Back in Anger" and "Whatever" by Oasis both use variants of this.
  • "Hotel California" by the Eagles is based on a minor key variant.
  • The chorus of "The Way" by Fastball is a variant: I-V-vi-III7-IV-I-V.
  • "Welcome to the Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance.
  • "Step" by Vampire Weekend
  • The main progression of Billy Joel's "Piano Man" is I-V-IV-I-IV-I-II7-V, but the Canon's bass line can still overlap with it by simply raising the second-to-last note a half-step.
  • Kirby's memetically remixed "Gourmet Race" song uses a variant in its final section: I-V-vi-iii-IV-I-iv7-V.
  • Also from Kirby is "Kirby Rocket's Big Blastoff" from Kirby and the Rainbow Curse.
  • "Domain" by The Future Sound of London.
  • The chorus of "I'll Be Your Everything" by Tommy Page. Especially evident in the final chorus.
  • Zigzagged with the main melody of "Mushrise Park" from Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. The progression used often deviates from this progression in its later half, but there is one section where it's a perfect match.

When I find myself in times of trouble,
Pachelbel is following me!
I'll see you in hell, Pachelbel!