September 16, 2004

Pachelbel Rocks!

I was and am still blown away by Pachelbel's Canon in D. He may not be the brightest star of the Classical world where such composers such as Beethoven and Mozart have perpetually carved their fame and fortune but his single, "Canon in D" has won millions around the globe. It is only this melody which made him famous the world over, even if he did compose many Protestant pieces during his lifetime.

Johann Pachelbel (1653 - 1706) lived in Germany during the time of the Age of Enlightenment when Europeans wore wigs and cravats and did not take baths. It was a time of Louis XIV, the sun-king who famously said, "I am the state!" and also the time when the Vermeer painted his Girl with a Pearl Earring. That was the age of Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton. The music, arts and architecture of this era was molded by the Church and nobility whose patronage lifted the humanities to its pinnacle as seen in the lavish and ornate Baroque and Rococo architecture, the rich, realistic and dark colors of Van Dyke and Gainsborough, and the uplifting Baroque music of Vivaldi, Handel and Bach. Unfortunately, Pachelbel was just one speck in that topsy-turvy world where his brilliance was not readily recognized unlike some of his contemporaries who in their lifetime had achieved vast fame and wealth.

Even in today's cynical society still lies the appreciation for the old and classical, and thankfully, Pachelbel lives on. Not many know it but his music has been the inspiration of current bestsellers like that R&B song, "I'll see you when you get there" by Coolio and the "Graduation Song" by pop icon Vitamin C. His Canon in D has also been infused into commercials and wedding marches. In the internet, this is one of the most famous singles and so far it has been transcribed, rerecorded, remixed and jazzed up so many times that there are already lots of variance but the main strain still remains.

Why is this melody so successful? Because of its simplicity. It has been once compared to "Flower Duet" in Delibes' opera, Lakme, the tune of which is fairly familiar with many who have heard it during Olympic commercials and Yanni recordings. But it pales in comparison with the orgasmic and heavenly quality of Canon in D. The tempo is mellowed, more with the objective to lull the listener but the quality of the music uplifts the soul many times over. A perfect anti-depression remedy. Stefan Helander
said it more clearly:

I listen to it when I'm happy and I listen to it when I feel sad. It touches my soul and sends shivers down my spine. And it still does, even though I've listened to it thousands of times.

Enough said. Go and listen to this wonderful music. It's included by the way, in a track in Bond's new cd entitled, "Classified."

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