Saturday, September 10
Beauty Hiding in the Mundane...
Johann Pachelbel's "Canon in D"
By the time we're 25 years old, we've heard it at so many weddings it's tempting to think we never want to hear that particular piece of music again, but maybe you'll see (and hear) it from a new perspective after reading my little ramble.
I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood, hearing my Dad listening to mostly country music. I remember being in the Elks lodge around the summer of my 10th year, the parents would all be in the bar partying it up and those who weren't fortunate enough to find babysitters corralled us into a spare party room that had a jukebox. They'd stuff our pockets full of coins and tell us to behave, so we'd play dare games, sneak to smoke cigarettes we'd swiped from our folks, and dance around to the jukebox music. In a years time, I probably spent $50 of my Dad's whiskey sour money on 1 song -- Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)"
Listening to that song and others like it was so refreshing from the country music I heard at home all the time. Especially once my mom had run off, my Dad seemed to wallow more and more in some of those depressing country music lyrics -- which, ironically, just like a country song, my Mom really did run off with my Dad's best friend, and eventually the man who had, at one time, been named my Godfather, became my Stepfather...and to make it worse, then became the "maybe he's actually the biological father" which to this day, we don't know. My Dad and I joke about doing a DNA test one day, but it's better keeping it this way. My Stepfather has long since passed away, as has my Mom. It would break my heart to find out I belong to no one.
Back to music...it became an escape for me from my 10 year old summer on. Mostly rock, funk, old school hip hop and R&B. I was the DJ for our 6th grade school radio station and my favorite record to spin was the Sugar Hill Gang "Rapper's Delight." I can still recite that song from front to back, verbatim. I went to my first real concert at the age of 12, with my sister who's 8 years older, to see Styx at what used to be the Capital Centre Arena in the Washington, DC area. It was AWESOME! I couldn't count how many concerts I've been to since...even got to go backstage at a Rod Stewart concert, a ZZ Top concert, and an Aerosmith concert. Oh my...the things I saw... but that's a whole different story!
Then when I was 19 I bought my first really nice component stereo, and sat for hours listening to all the intricacies I could hear in different songs with better equipment, and one day my sister came over and had a cassette from her new boyfriend. It was full of classical music, since he was trying to get her interested in the finer things in life. We put it on, and the first song was Pachebel's Canon in D. I turned it up loud, then laid back on my couch, and almost instantly was completely lost in the beauty of the music. I'd always been touched by music, moved by music, but never completely carried away, feeling the music deep inside of me, caressing my very soul, all while somehow feeling connected to and wondering what the person was thinking when he was creating it...
Did you know that when "Canon in D" was a new piece, introduced by Johann Pachelbel, it was not popular at all? As a matter of fact, though it's now his most famous piece, like most other works by Pachelbel and other pre-1700 composers, the Canon remained forgotten for centuries and was rediscovered only in the 20th century. Then several decades after it was first re-published in 1919, the piece became extremely popular, and today it is frequently played at weddings and included on classical music compilations, along with other famous Baroque pieces such as Air on the G String by Johann Sebastian Bach.
The circumstances of the piece's composition are wholly unknown. One writer hypothesized that the Canon may have been composed for Johann Christoph Bach's wedding, on October 23, 1694, which Pachelbel attended.
Whatever the case, maybe Pachelbel was just really ahead of his time.
The song that you hear at 90% of weddings still, to this day, moves me, because it was my first love in the world of classical music, and as we all know, we never forget our first love.
When I was 23 and pregnant with my son, I put headphones with classical music on my tummy every day -- and now he's 20, and still a fan. It used to surprise people when he was barely 4 and would tell them how much he loved Vivaldi! Hahaha! He would ask me to put on Vivaldi's "Four Seasons", and then he'd tell me his favorite piece was "Spring" in his little voice as he danced around the living room.
He went on to play the violin and become an artist...I think beautiful music inspires us to want to create even more beauty.
So I challenge you to listen to Pachelbel's Canon in D with fresh ears and an open heart...I mean *really* listen, from the first note to the last, and let if flow through you. I bet you'll appreciate it in a whole new way rather than just filing it away as "The Wedding Song."
This is one of my favorite versions:
Canon in D
Posted by Michele Chastain at 2:45 PM