Canon is a piece of music where one part echoes or imitates another part.
This is usually accomplished through repetition, variation, or transformation of material.
The most famous example of the canon form is the beginning section in Beethoven’s 5th symphony
where the first violin repeats three times what was previously played by the viola.
Other examples are Bach’s Canon in D-Major for four violins , Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No.4 for piano and orchestra,
and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No6 in B-Flat Minor, K545 which begins with an initial theme reminiscent of an earlier movement.
Composers using the canon form include Johann Pachelbel, J.S.Bach, W.A. Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Dvorak and many more.
The canon is one of the most important genres in music history and has been used by composers
throughout the years mainly for pedagogical purposes to teach musicians how to play with or
against each other and also as a musical showing off technique.
The term “canon” comes from the Greek Kanōn, which means “rule” or “measuring rod”.
The ancient Greek mathematicians used this term for what is today known as a geometric series.
In classical music, the canon has been used in many different forms.
Most commonly, it is found in its strictest form where one line of music follows another with the notes imitating
each other identically over time. The lines are almost always in imitation, so usually two lines of music are involved. This is called a canon at the unison or prime .
While canons have been written in a multitude of different forms, the most common form is the canon
in canon where there is a relationship between what comes before and after. This was known as a “Suscitatrix,”
a Latin term given to music which seemed to coax listeners in imagining characters coming
in and out of a door in the middle of the music making that person dancing or singing .
In classical music, canons have been found from as early as 1622 when Palestrina wrote his
Miserere which was an example of this style of composition . In 1720, however, Mozart wrote
two canons for two violins at unison. These canons were known as Canon adagio ,
which is the slowest form of canon, and Canon Allegro . It wasn’t until around 1830 that
Beethoven wrote his first two canons also known as “canonic variations”, patterns of the canon form.
These are now referred to as his popular “Canonetta” or “ritornello” which is a borrowed term from Italian.
Later, in the 19th century, composers began to experiment with these forms and began creating canons
with longer periods of time between what was played. In fact, the term “canon” originated from this period
because it was used to describe a piece or section of music that was notated in this manner.
This period was known as the “canon period”. These canons were often written in a format called “canone alla macchia.”
This is the Italian word for “got one” which means that there is little difference between what comes before and after.
Another style of canon was found during this period. This style of canon is known as the “counterpoint canon”.
The music here would come after the main melody of the piece. This form was also used in many different genres of music, including fugue .
The terms “cantus firmus” and “cantus reservatus” are some other terms that are used to
describe these counterpoint canons better. The “cantus firmus” was a piece of music that was used as
a canon while the “cantus reservatus” was a piece of music that would be reused in the future.
Most composers who wrote canons during this time period were Italian. This is mostly due to the fact
that there were only about five musicians in Europe at this time who could write counterpoint .
Music during much of this period, including canons, was written in different genres and many of
these genres were not related to each other and were very different in style and appearance.
These genres included: toccata , ricercar , motet , laude, and prelude .
The last movement in Beethoven’s 5th symphony is extremely important in regards to how
it influenced the field of music and how it was viewed. This movement was called Canon and is frequently used as
an example of beautiful music with many different variations of canons being written today.
In fact, this is where the term “canon” originated from. In the symphony, Canon is a part that a piece of music where one part echoes or imitates another part is known as what?
imitates previous material, similar to Pachelbel’s Miserere where one voice would follow another.
In Pachelbel’s Miserere , there are three concepts that are used: a cantus firmus , a canon , and a fugue .
These three concepts make up the movement. The cantus firmus is a phrase or lyric that is written