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"Pachelbel's Canon" Progression
aka: Pachelbels Canon

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Eight notes. 27 repetitions. And that's just in the canon.

"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, 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.


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  • Pachelbel's "Canon in D", and thus any songs based around a sample of it:
  • 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
    • "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).
    Asuka: Your part is easy. All you have to play is arpeggios.
  • 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

Asian Animation


Live-Action TV

  • 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.


Video Games

Web Original

Western Animation

  • 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 "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.
  • 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.

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

Alternative Title(s): Pachelbels Canon