Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Baroquen Record

Thirty some years ago, my father brought home an LP, Go For Baroque, a compilation of songs from the 17th and 18th centuries. Nestled among the various Bach, Vivaldi, and Handel pieces was this thing called Kanon, by some dude whose name sounded like Taco Bell. I thought it was remarkable.

Fast forward a decade or so and suddenly this song, the Canon in D, by Pachelbel, is everywhere; on commercials, in elevators, and, most regrettably, at every freakin' wedding for the last twenty years. With that kind of exposure it's lost a good deal of its charm.

Around the beginning of this year an otherwise anonymous guitarist calling himself funtwo put a video of himself playing the Canon on his electric guitar up on YouTube. His video has since been viewed nearly 7.5 million times. The video identified the arrangement as being by somebody called JerryC.

JerryC, it turns out, is a 25 year old Taiwanese guitarist who has been listening to the Canon since he was a child. Last year he set out to teach himself to play the piece on electric guitar, which he accomplished in two weeks, transcribing it is tabs as we went. He videotaped himself playing the piece sitting on his bed and uploaded the video to a website he'd set up for his band, to widespread acclaim (his video is also at YouTube). He followed this up by posting the tabs he'd transcribed on the web, as well. Soon guitarists everywhere were teaching themselves to play it, among them funtwo, who, it turns out, is a 23 year old Korean.

There are now dozens of different guitarists with their Canon versions posted at YouTube. Most have emulated JerryC, playing while sitting on their beds. The quality is uneven, but some are superb. I particularly like Symheris and Nick B. Check 'em out, but be prepared to get stuck there for awhile, and to get a searing guitar playing the dreaded Canon in D stuck in your head for a few days.
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