#2 Johann Pachelbel – Canon in D Major

Topic: Baroque music

Concept(s): Duration

– Elective course

‘Canon in D Major’ is one of Baroque composer Johann Pachelbel’s most famous compositions. Part of ‘Pachelbel’s Cannon’, the piece was written over three hundred years ago! The piece is a fantastic learning material for students as it demonstrates the use of most, if not all, of the concepts of music. Listen to the piece below, it’s excellent!

The follow activities are written for a music class in the Stage 5 Elective Course.


Using the chords from the opening sequence, students will be encouraged to pick an instrument of their choice and improvise over the chords in the key of D major. Experimentation with different note values is encouraged so to develop an understanding of duration.


5.2 performs repertoire in a range of styles and genres demonstrating interpretation of musical notation and the application of different types of technology


Students will listen to ‘Canon in D Major’ and ‘Canon Rock’. After listening to both pieces, students will be asked about the differences in the melody between the two compositions. Where possible, ask students to voice and visually illustrate what they believe the differences between duration in both pieces. Watch ‘Canon Rock’ below…


5.10 demonstrates an understanding of the influence and impact of technology on music


Students will be provided with audio-visual excerpts and written excerpts and asked to create a short performance of the song in a contemporary style. Duration aspects of the song are encouraged to be manipulated to enhance the impact of the genre the students are attempting to create.


5.1 performs repertoire with increasing levels of complexity in a range of musical styles demonstrating an understanding of the musical concepts


Watch two contrasting videos, one is audio-only of the London Symphony Orchestra performing ‘Canon in D Major’ and the other is titled ‘Canon Rock’ by Jerry C. Discuss the differences between the two pieces in reference to duration. Perhaps ask yourself questions like ‘how does the tempo vary between the two pieces’, ‘how has Jerry C changed the values of notes in order to create a contemporary version of the song’ and ‘can you notate different note groupings in each piece?’.


5.8 demonstrates an understanding of musical concepts through aural identification, discrimination, memorisation and notation in the music selected for study


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