Improvising on Pachelbel’s Canon

Pachelbel’s Canon is perhaps the most widely-beloved piece of classical music in the world. I’ve often asked myself why this is so, because there are many pieces of classical music that are as beautiful as the Pachelbel, but aren’t as popular.

I’ve come up with two reasons why I think the Pachelbel is so beloved:

1. It’s based on the same type of repeating chord progression that pop music is based on.


2. The chord progression moves down the interval of a 4th three times in the eight-measure pattern. The movement down a 4th is very relaxing.

To summarize: The Pachelbel Canon sounds like pop music and people feel relaxed when they hear it. Sounds like a recipe for success to me!

Here’s a wonderful piece titled “Pachelbel’s Sunrise” by my online piano student Paul Bennett. Paul learned how to improvise on the chords and melody to Pachelbel’s Canon and then created this joyful composition/improvisation based on Pachelbel’s music.

“Pachelbel’s Sunrise” by Paul Bennett

You can hear more of Paul’s music on his Soundcloud page:

Give it a try yourself. The chords to Pachelbel’s Canon are: D A/Bm F#m/G D/ G A. Play them a few times and then begin improvising on them. You may be surprised at how good you sound!

Enjoy the journey and “let the music flow!”


PS – I’m still getting lots of requests for my 10-week Mastering The Modes course, which I first announced last month. You’ll gain a thorough understanding of the modes and learn how to use them in a practical way, on a wide variety of musical genres. It’s $300 for the 10 weeks, which includes a 30-minute Skype (or Zoom) lesson with me each week plus practice assignments each week. If you’re interested, please email me at [email protected] and we’ll set up a lesson time.

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