Archive for September, 2009

Pachelbel’s Canon as a Processional

Pachelbel's Canon in D arranged for Violin and Piano. The original version was written for three violins and bass.

Pachelbel's Canon in D arranged for Violin and Piano. The original version was written for three violins and bass.

There is certainly no set rule on what song must be performed for the Bridesmaids processional. However, in the many weddings I’ve performed in the Tri-State area, there certainly is a popular choice that works quite well, and that is Johan Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major.

The reason for this is actually quite simple and it stems from the bass line of the composition. The song in its entirety is 56 measures long, but the ground bass chord progression repeats itself every four bars. This makes it very easy for an ensemble to find a suitable ending spot every four bars or so. That is very handy when you need to time the music to people marching down the isle.

You see, bridal parties rarely take the same amount of time to process. Aside from the varying numbers of participants processing, most halls will have a longer or shorter distance to traverse. This further complicates perfectly timing a piece of music to match the length of a processional. Therefore, it is necessary for the song to have numerous places to end the song.

Being a Canon, Pachelbel’s composition further lends itself to being great for stopping midstream. A canon by definition has two or more melodies dependent on each other. One melody is the leader, while the other is the follower. The simplest versions of Canons are rounds like Frére Jacques or Row, Row, Row Your Boat. It is important to note that one of the melodies is always resolving or ending itself while the other melodies are in the middle of their own unique phrases. When musicians emphasize the resolving line during a performance and add a retard, or slow the tempo down, they can end the composition early and the song will still sound like it has completed.

Most importantly, though, Pachelbel’s Canon in D has a beautiful familiar, flowing melody that is elegant and timeless. What better piece of music could there possibly be for bridesmaids to walk down the isle to? If you have other suggestions, please feel free to share your experiences them below…