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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
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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.)

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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.


Examples:

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    Music 

    Non-Music 
Advertising
  • 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.

Anime

  • 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.
  • 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

Film

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.

Theatre

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 bassline to the first half of the Eight Melodies theme from MOTHER uses a slight variation: I-iib-vi-iii-IV-I-IV-V.
  • 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?
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    Discussed 
  • 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

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