Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lovely: Pachelbel’s Canon in D – Music and Identity

I recently published a post here about compiling a list of my 10 favorite movies.  I described how this simple exercise grew out of an existential crisis, in which I had realized just how out of touch I was with my Self.  

I have lately also been thinking about music and reflecting upon how it is a lost love in my life, like someone in a foreign country with whom I long ago shared a tender and fulfilling relationship, but then left to return home, and of whom I have fondly thought from time to time over the subsequent years.

In my earlier life, music was very much a part of who I was.  I learned as a child and youth to play several musical instruments and had (if I may be permitted to say so) a beautiful soprano voice before going through puberty. J  As an older teenager, I re-discovered my (more mature) voice and enjoyed singing in choir.  Within the somewhat limited cultural landscape of the place I grew up, I sought out and enjoyed opportunities to enrich my understanding and appreciation of music (while always being somewhat fearful that I might inadvertently expose my gayness in so doing).

For many years, my love of music has been lost amidst the demands of family, church and career, not to mention the abandonment of my former self when I got married (which I have written about here.  Now, during this time of re-naissance in my life, I wish to travel back to reclaim that part of myself who loved music and found meaning in it.

In this spirit, I thought I would occasionally prepare a post about (primarily classical) music that speaks or has spoken to me.  This is the first of these posts.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved Pachelbel’s Canon in D.  I somewhat regret that it has been somewhat cheapened by its mass appeal, but that in itself says something about the appeal of this piece of music. 

To me, there has always been something ineffable about this piece.  When I listen to it, I feel as though my spirit is being nourished by something spiritual, something pure, something unworldly, something eternal.  The melody seems to strike a chord of remembrance, to unlock a treasure chest of knowledge hidden somewhere within me.  In a way I cannot really articulate, I feel cleansed and uplifted and ennobled when I listen to this music.

When I think of the Canon in D, I think of a word that Joseph Smith (paraphrasing Paul) used to describe something that we as humans seek after in this life:  lovely-ness.  In its essence, the Canon in D is lovely.  I like that word; it has a nice gay ring to it.  It’s a word that is not used very much in our modern society. Oxford defines it as meaning “exquisitely beautiful,” and that is what Pachelbel’s Canon in D is to me:  exquisitely beautiful. 


  1. Indeed a great piece of music, my kids love to play it on the piano. Even though it is a few hundred years old, it reverberates in todays music: - very funny!

  2. Thank you for reminding me of music. I paid tribute to the QWERTY keys in my Thanksgiving post today, but I am also mindful, thanks to your post, of the 88 keys of ivory and ebony which make our lives so rich and varied. Thanks, Vic, and happy Turkey day.

  3. Thanks for the link, Saffron. Too funny! Love your moniker, by the way. Very classy. Hope you and yours have a wonderful day!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Ned.