When it comes to the Bride’s entrance, whether this is in a church or civil ceremony, Pachelbel’s Canon still remains one of the most popular classical pieces to be requested.
The Canon in D by Pachelbel is perhaps one of the most well-known songs used during wedding ceremonies. Some people feel that it is overused, to the point where listeners have become jaded and no longer feel the same emotional response towards it. But we would tend to disagree because to us, Canon In D sounds like a wedding and it’s the perfect song to walk down the aisle to. Although it may have originally been only a small piece of work for a gathering – the ‘canon’ of the title refers to a minor piece often played in the background at social events – it is now so frequently used that some people are surprised when it is not part of the ceremony.
Why is Canon in D so popular?
Pachelbel is well-known in musicology circles for religious or sacred music. In comparison with most of his other pieces, the Canon in D is a relatively light and minor work which would probably be rarely played today, except for the attraction that it has for some couples on their wedding day. This baroque piece was only discovered (or rediscovered) during the early part of the 20th century.
In his lifetime, Pachelbel was renowned for his organ and other keyboard music, whereas today he is also recognized as an important composer of church and chamber music. Little of his chamber music survives, however. Only Musikalische Ergötzung—a collection of partitas published during Pachelbel’s lifetime—is known, apart from a few isolated pieces in manuscripts.
A 1968 arrangement and recording of Canon in D by the Jean-François Paillard chamber orchestra gained popularity over the next decade, and in the 1970s the piece began to be recorded by many ensembles; by the early 1980s its presence as background music was deemed inescapable. From the 1970s onward, elements of the piece, especially its chord progression, were used in a variety of pop songs.
The simple tune and repetitive bass line make this piece memorable. For this reason, many people perhaps remember it from previous weddings they might have attended. It is also widely used for wedding music in films and TV.