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, ii or ii° may be substituted for the last IV/iv, and I or Ib (or i or ib)note 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 Ib for iii as stated above allows the two tropes to overlap.)
Often used to create the bittersweet, nostalgic kind of feeling the piece is so famous for.
See also Falling Bass, an alternate bass melody which nevertheless meshes well with the chords of the Pachelbel's Canon Progression, and may also have been its origin.
- Pachelbel's "Canon in D", and thus any songs based around a sample of it:
- Toward the end of Pachelbel's original work, I7b is substituted for iii (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 major-key progression.
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra has two versions, "This Christmas Day" and "Christmas Canon Rock."
- Conductor and comedian Rainer Hersch once conducted a medley of songs with this chord progression backed by Canon in D.
- In Blues Traveler's "Hook" from their album Four, Canon in D is the hook.
- Maroon Five’s “Memories”
- Doja Cat's "Fancy"
- George Benson's "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You".
- Aerosmith - "Cryin'" (actually interpolates "Canon in D" in the bridge)
- Aphrodite's Child's "Rain And Tears", notable for being the first pop hit to use this progression. And by extension, "There's A Key" by 2 Brothers on the 4th Floor as it interpolates that song.
- The influence of the piece can be heard in many of Emilie Autumn's songs, since as a child she would mentally play the piece each night to suppress her auditory hallucinations (as quoted from The Other Wiki). A few bars of the melody are shoehorned into "Save You", and the first half of the ostinato is used in "Ancient Grounds" and "Let the Record Show".
- The chorus of "Be My Valentine" by Baby Gold, from the Hi-NRG Attack Eurobeat label/studio, substitutes II for the second IV chord. Ditto the verses of "Welcome Little Girl" by HRG United.
- The chorus of Bananarama's "Love in the First Degree".
- Belle and Sebastian - "Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying", transposed into F# Major.
- "Lullaby" by the string quartet Bond is an adaptation of the work.
- David Bowie's "Changes" uses a variant of the chord progression.
- "Canon Rock", a rock remix of the piece that quickly became popular on the Internet - to the point where newspapers took notice of it. The Other Wiki has an article.
- Caramell - "Allra Bästa Vänner" (chorus)
- Cascada's "Another You".
- COOL&CREATE - "Help Me, Erin!", a super happy fun dance/techno remix of a rock remix (of the same name) of a Touhou Project track. This link starts at where that high melody comes in, which is where we get the progression, with ii substituting for the last IV.
- Coven - "One Tin Soldier"
- DragonForce - "Valley of the Damned" (chorus and instrumental part). This progression is popular in Melodic Power Metal in general, starting with Helloween's "Eagle Fly Free", arguably a one-song Trope Maker for the genre.
- "Hotel California" by the Eagles is based on a minor key variant.
- Brian Eno did three versions of the piece in his album Discreet Music.
- Family - Dame estrellas o limones
- The Farm - "All Together Now"
- The chorus of "The Way" by Fastball is a variant: I-V-vi-III7-IV-I-V. Their other song "Out of My Head" is also a variant: I-V-vi-I/I7-IV-I-II7-V7. Thus, so is the sample in Machine Gun Kelly and Camilla Cabello’s “Bad Things”.
- "Domain" by The Future Sound of London.
- The verses of "Superman" by Goldfinger
- Green Day - "Basket Case" omits the last IV chord (goes directly from I to V).
- If novelty songs from YouTube count, then a good example is Parry Gripp's "Raining Tacos"
- Don't Pull Your Love by Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds, mainly in the chorus.
- "Yatta!" by Happatai, used in the animutation "Irrational Exuberance".
- "Want You Back" by The Jackson 5 uses a slightly altered I-IV-vi-iii-IV-I-ii-V progression, but in terms of harmonic function it's an almost exact match.
- A much looser example in the main progression of Billy Joel's "Piano Man", which also implements Falling Bass: I-Vb-IVb-Ic-IV-Ib-II7-V. However, the Canon's bass line can still overlap with it by raising the second-to-last note a half-step.
- "Jolly Old St. Nicholas".
- Kandystand - "Disco Queen" (chorus; verses use The Four Chords of Pop)
- "Are Your Eyes Still Blue" by Shane McAnally (intro)
- "Welcome to the Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance.
- "Don't Look Back in Anger" and "Whatever" by Oasis both use variations of this.
- The Osmonds' "Love Me for a Reason", later covered by Boyzone.
- Pachelbel's Ganon, an Overclocked Remix track by djpretzel that rearranges Zelda's Lullaby and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time's opening theme in an R&B style, with this as its backing track.
- Another version that went viral was "Pachelbel's Chicken," notable for being played entirely with rubber chickens.
- The chorus of "I'll Be Your Everything" by Tommy Page. Especially evident in the final chorus.
- 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.
- The Piano Guys have their own version, Rockelbel's Canon. And prior to joining the group, member John Schmidt had his own version, Pachelbel Meets U2, which blends "Canon in D" with U2's "With or Without You."
- Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter, Paul, and Mary follows a similar chord progression: I-iii-IV-I-IV-I-vi-II7-V.
- Peterpan's "Semua Tentang Kita"note substitutes the last IV chord with an vi and repeats the progression for the whole song, creating a melancholic mood fitting for a song about parting with closed ones.
- "People Change" by Rockapella, originally from their album "2."
- Scatman John's "ScatMan's World" uses the chord progression.
- Spiritualized's "Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space"
- The bridge of "On & On & On" by Streetlight Manifesto
- Tokyo Ghetto Pussy - "I Kiss Your Lips"
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra has two songs based on it: "Christmas Canon" from The Christmas Attic, and "Christmas Canon Rock" from The Lost Christmas Eve.
- Parts of the U.S.S.R. national anthem.
- Roger Waters' "The Bravery of Being out of Range" utilizes the chord progression in its verses.
- "Step" by Vampire Weekend
- Tay Zonday's arrangement "Canon In Z."
- There was a local commercial for a furniture store called Sprint, no relation to the phone company, which used a jazzy piano variation of "Canon in D" for the background music.
- Dragon Ball GT 's "Dan Dan Kokoro Hikareteku" uses a version for its refrain that replaces the I-IV with iii-vi-♭VII or iii-vi-ii-III7 alternately.
- Dragon Ball Z Kai 's "Dragon Soul" takes the former substitution and also swaps the first V with the first iii for its refrain.
- Minor key version: "Sprinting Spirits" by Sato Naoki, from the Eureka Seven soundtrack, volume 2 disc 1.
- "Tsubasa wo Kudasai," known to non-Japanese anime fans from K-On! and Rebuild of Evangelion.
- In the anime Lucky Star, Tsukasa's ringtone sounds like a cheerier version of this.
- The verses of "Trust You Forever" from Mobile Fighter G Gundam.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion
Asuka: Your part is easy. All you have to play is arpeggios.
- "Komm, Süsser Tod" from The End of Evangelion
- In Evangelion: Death and Rebirth, a recurring motif of the three main characters playing the piece is used to punctuate the recap portion. In fact, the sort-of framing sequence for the recap is the three characters (plus an Ensemble Dark Horse) getting together to practice the Canon (with Butt-Monkey Shinji playing the cello).
- The song "Itsumo Nando Demo" from Spirited Away makes use of a variation of this, where v replaces the iii in the verses.
- In Summer Wars, the first section of the theme to "150 Million Miracles" follows the chord progression of I-IV-vi-iii-IV-iii-ii7-V
- Lamput: Music noticeably resembling the Trope Namer can be heard in "Boss's Mom" during the scene where a young Boss and his mom run towards each other.
- Spanish film Begin the Beguine uses it as a Recurring Riff throughout.
- It plays twice in Clouds of Sils Maria, the first time when Valentine disappears right when Maria finally spots the cloud formation of the Maloja Snake, and the second time at the end when the Show Within a Show is about to be performed.
- It's used as a theme in Ordinary People.
- The choir at Mia's wedding in the sequel to The Princess Diaries sings the canon—first at the usual slower and more reverent pace (only to trail off when she runs out), then hilariously sped up when she rushes down the aisle to the altar.
- Kevin Bacon's character plays it briefly on trumpet in Queens Logic.
- Pachelbel's Canon is used during the "not-wedding" on Charmed in Season 3.
- Hospital Playlist: In a flashback to 1999, Seok-hyung demonstrates his proficiency on keyboards to the rest of the band by playing Pachelbel's Canon. Then, in a scene set 20 years later, the whole Five-Man Band plays Pachelbel's Canon together in an up-tempo rock arrangement.
- The bridge of "Above It All (I Love To Fly)" from Sesame Street substitutes III for iii and II for the second IV.
- "Anthem" from Bill and Ted's Excellent Musical.
- "My House" from Matilda: The Musical has this in the latter half of the verse section.
- The first two games in the Atelier Series make use of it for their hardest to attain endings.
- A horribly distorted organ version appears in the creepiest part of BioShock Infinite.
- Lilith's theme in Bomberman 64: The Second Attack! uses a slight variation of this chord progression.
- The B-section of "Singing Mountain" from Chrono Trigger uses a variation ending with ii-III instead of IV-V.
- Marian's Theme from Double Dragon Neon uses Falling Bass followed by a variation of this progression: I-V-vi-iii-I-II-IV-V
- The theme played at Orlesian balls and parties in Dragon Age. It seems to be the Thedosian analogue to the real-world piece in its form and in-universe function.
- It features in and is one of the themes of Kanon, which names itself after the piece.
- "Gourmet Race" uses a variant in its final section: I-V-vi-iii-IV-I-iv7b-V.
- "Kirby Rocket's Big Blastoff" from Kirby and the Rainbow Curse.
- A variation appears in the ending theme of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
- The track "Lemming 1" from Lemmings uses a variation: I-V-vi-iii-IV-V-I-V.
- Mario & Luigi: Dream Team: The background pieces for Pi'illo Castle, Rose Broquet, and especially Mushrise Park all feature variations on this progression.
- Mega Man 4's prologue uses this once.
- The bassline to the first half of the Eight Melodies theme from MOTHER uses a slight variation: I-iib-vi-iii-IV-I-IV-V.
- Mother 3 uses it in the theme of the Magypsies.
- My Singing Monsters: The first few segments of Gold Island use it, before going into E Minor for the final part. Completing the song on this island is accomplished by raising all 30 Natural monsters, (excluding the fire elementals) 6 Seasonal monsters, Shugabush, Wubbox, AND all their rare/epic variants to level 15, and essentially the moment that signifies a Completed Compendium on the first 5 islands, so it has every right to feel as nostalgic and glorious as it is.
- The A-section of Belle's Overture from Mystik Belle.
- Pokémon has several of these: the S.S. Anne from the first generation, Goldenrod City from the second generation, both Slateport City and (perhaps the most noticeable example, because of the arrangement) the marine science museum from the third generation, Mimikyu's theme from the 7th generation (which is very reminiscent of Vitamin C's Graduation Song), and the Tera Raid Battle theme from the 9th generation.
- "Canon D (Part of the Memories #1)", one of the tracks composed for the Pump It Up series by Andamiro's in-house band BanYa, with a regular and full track version (a first for the game's original tunes). The song is highly popular with Pump It Up fans, not only for the song's Classical rock-style melody, but because of the anime-style video that accompanies it, for both having animation that's considered to be higher quality than most other BGAs in the franchise and for its narrative. The video is even the Trope page for the game! A later remix called Canon X.1 was later released, only it's not a follow up to the first story (despite the video officially being titled Canon-D Part of the Memories #1), and instead tells a separate story that's inspired by Neon Genesis Evangelion.
- “Zanzibar - A Peaceful Village” from Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time omits the last IV chord and instead goes straight to V.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Parts of the ending music from Super Mario Bros. 2
- The second half of the ending theme from Super Mario Bros. 3 starts with this sequence
- Most of the intro song from Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island as well.
- Parts of the credits theme from Super Mario 64, also implementing Falling Bass: I-Vb-vi-Ic-IV-Ib-ii-V.
- The "Luma" theme from Super Mario Galaxy is built around a slight variation on this progression.
- a snippet appears in Mika's theme from Under Night In-Birth. Her weapon is even called Pachelbel Cannon.
- "Main Theme" from Xenoblade Chronicles 1 uses the minor variant of this progression at the start and end.
- The save screen theme and, fittingly (see above), the music in the area themed after Mother in Yume Nikki both use this progression.
- The Decemberween version of the intro theme music from Homestar Runner apparently sounds like this.
- Used as background music in Ben Croshaw's Judging By The Cover series.
- Canon is used in the final episode of Llamas with Hats from the point where Carl discovers Paul's dead body until Carl kills himself.
- 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.
- The "Perfect Christmas" song from Arthur's Perfect Christmas opens with Arthur playing it on the piano before transitioning to a more upbeat, livelier tune.
- My Little Pony:
- The verses of "Come Home, Perry" from the Phineas and Ferb episode "Oh, There You Are, Perry" are based on the canon.
- South Park uses a Suspiciously Similar Song in the scene where Cartman has a tea party with his stuffed toys.
- In Tangled Ever After, it's the background music for the opening narration.
- "I Can Be Your Friend" from the VeggieTales story Are You My Neighbor?
- Comedian Rob Paravonian famously made a rant about the piece, noting how boring it is to play the bass line as the cellist in the ensemble, as well as the progression's ubiquity in popular music (although few of the examples given actually use the progression).
- A skit on John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme portrayed Pachelbel himself as utterly sick of the Canon, being much more enthusiastic about his Fugue, his Sonata, or his Hexachordum Apollinis, eventually being forced to play it and singing about how much it annoyed him that this was all he was remembered for. ("All that it does is go dooby-dooby-dooby-dooby...")
- In Wolf 359, Eiffel goes on a rant about this song, referring to it as "The Mind Eraser" because it is such an Ear Worm that it will push any and all troubling thoughts about being trapped aboard a space station as part of some poorly-explained mission sponsored by a boss that you're pretty sure is at least kind-of-evil from your head.
Pachelbel's always following me!
I'll see you in hell, Pachelbel!