Patterico's Pontifications


What Pop Song Is Based on This Bach Chorale?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:17 am

I was listening to highlights from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion last night as I worked on a memorandum for work (you’re welcome, taxpayers) and was reminded of something I thought I’d share.

Listen to the first 33 seconds of this Bach chorale (which was later adapted for the St. Matthew Passion) and see if it reminds you of anything:

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Well, it turns out that a well-known pop song was based on this very chorale.

Which one?

The answer lies beneath the fold.

And here you go:

You may have other examples of classical music adapted to modern songs (Jethro Tull’s “Bouree” is an obvious one). Let us know in the comments.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

36 Responses to “What Pop Song Is Based on This Bach Chorale?”

  1. Keyboardist Ray Manzarek of The Doors had a great interview in 1998 with the normally insufferable Terry Gross, talking about the process of creating Light My Fire. Works through Bach and Coltrane. A great look into the creative process.

    Todd G (c2f25e)

  2. Comedian Rob Paravonian has a great musical/comedy bit about Pachelbel’s Canon in D and sound-a-like songs. The Australians Axis of Awesome do something similar.

    Best line? “The 2nd violins would get lovely melodies, which should just not happen.”

    Todd G (c2f25e)

  3. Link to Manzarek interview

    Todd G (c2f25e)

  4. Same church but different pew…the Cavatina from Deer Hunter – – I believe it became a stand alone #1 for awhile…and for awhile after Barry Lyndon, Pachelbel’s Canon was played at what seemed like 95% of all weddings.

    Bill Saracino (ad0096)

  5. I’ve seen somewhere, can’t recall where, that all music is formed from 13 basic notes. That we get the variety we do is astounding.

    Bill H (383c5d)

  6. I must’ve listed to that clip 10 times and knew I’d heard it in a song, but couldn’t place it. When I saw the Paul Simon youtube, I thought, yeah, but it’s alright…

    Colonel Haiku (7680d5)

  7. Listened

    Colonel Haiku (7680d5)

  8. Classical music adds a lot to pops. Because musicians listen to anything.

    Here is an example from the 30s. Debussy meets the swing era.

    Appalled (d07ae6)

  9. An amusing rant about Pachabel’s Canon in D and modern music:

    Davethulhu (fab944)

  10. @5 Bill H

    Music Theory. All Western music comes from 12 half tones (steps).

    W W H W W W H major scale

    W W H W W H W minor scale formed from the 5th tone of the major

    Modes formed from each individual tone and so on : Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Myxolydian, Aolian and Locrian.

    Pinandpuller (febb32)

  11. If you like JS Bach you might like shameless self-promotion:


    Pinandpuller (7c4caa)

  12. @13 Stephen Macklin

    Do you know about the Ampico reproducing piano?

    Rachmaninov plays Rachmaninov

    Pinandpuller (49b00c)

  13. You know, player pianos don’t really get credit as being a computer but they were, weren’t they?

    Pinandpuller (49b00c)

  14. Frédéric Chopin’s Prelude in C Minor, Opus 28, Number 20 –> Manilow’s “Could It Be Magic.”

    Beldar (fa637a)

  15. @ Pin (#11 & 12): I think I probably misunderestimated you when you first started commenting here. I regret that.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  16. If you like JS Bach you might like shameless self-promotion:


    Wow. That is pretty cool. Listening to it right now.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  17. Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself,” Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

    10SCgal (18de37)

  18. Hook by Blues Traveler has chords based on Pachalbel’s Canon in D.

    Todd (8837bf)

  19. @17 Beldar

    Well, I do try to control my happyfeet nature but I can’t always.

    I actually played the trumpet in junior high. That’s where I learned to read music. I sort of taught myself everything else. Other than taking theory in college.

    Pinandpuller (49b00c)

  20. Wow. That is pretty cool. Listening to it right now.
    Patterico (115b1f) — 10/9/2017 @ 5:22 pm

    Thank you. As you know, IANAL so I don’t always have informed opinions about your posts. Buy I can usually chime in on God, guns and guitars.

    And you posting your music collaborations sort of inspired me to start up writing again.

    Pinandpuller (49b00c)

  21. Pinandpuller (febb32) — 10/9/2017 @ 12:35 pm

    I acquiesce to your knowledge, good sir. What very little I know about music theory I learned playing a recorder (that nasty plastic flute/clarinet combo) in 7th grade. I can sometimes visualize where the note is being struck on an instrument. But ask me how or why, and I am completely lost.

    Bill H (383c5d)

  22. I sort of taught myself everything else. Other than taking theory in college.

    Pinandpuller (49b00c) — 10/9/2017 @ 8:25 pm

    A lot of genuinely good musicians taught themselves. Had you taken music classes in college, chances are pretty good you would be told “You’re not supposed to do it that way”.

    Bill H (383c5d)

  23. Bravo, Pinandpuller.

    nk (dbc370)

  24. Prompted by the new Trump/Corker thread but it belongs here. My daughter is the musical one in the family, and she and her mother saw “Hamilton” on Broadway over the weekend. My daughter called it a “rap opera” (apparently there is almost no spoken dialogue). A “classic” in 200 years?

    nk (dbc370)

  25. And then there’s Jerry Lee Lewis.

    Colonel Haiku (7680d5)

  26. There’s a Chuck Berry song that gots Beethoven and Tchaikovsky in it.

    Also, Lou Reed stole a riff from Mahavishnu Orchestra.

    That’s all I got off the top of my head.

    CFarleigh (a06bdc)

  27. @23 Bill H

    I actually thought of a good story to tell you because I didn’t want to come off as a know it all.

    Like I said, I played trumpet and could read music but that was it until college. In 10th grade this guy named Kenny told me that Randy Rhodes invented 25 chords but EVH only invented 13, or something like that.

    It didn’t feel right but I had no way to refute him. Now he may have conflated something about chord fingerings or inversions and ran with it. Or he was just crazy.

    I recorded a lot of my stuff onto a Zoom 12 track digital studio. I was kind of homeless living in an RV during a pending divorce and I accidentally plugged my laptop power source into the board and I think I fried the HD. That’s why a lot of the mixes are crude. I have a 16 track Zoom I got out of mothballs and I’m trying to learn the new paradigm DAW. I wonder if Millhouse knows about music?

    Pinandpuller (16b0b5)

  28. @25 nk

    Thank you. Have you any insight on the Greek sounding names of the modes?

    Pinandpuller (16b0b5)

  29. @26 nk

    I’d rather see George Benson on Broadway but to each her own.

    Pinandpuller (16b0b5)

  30. If you like John McLaughlin you might like

    Passion Grace & Fire

    Pinandpuller (16b0b5)

  31. Not to be the 21st threadjacker but all the NFL controversy got me thinking:

    Is the National Anthem a reverse parody? And were melodies really memes in days gone by? Meme generators allow you to put your own words on somebody else’s work. I think I almost coined a term “gene narrator” there. Maybe.

    Pinandpuller (16b0b5)

  32. Pinandpuller @30. They’re named after the different Greek tribes who had settled in different parts of Greece. For example, the Dorians were the Spartans and their preferred music was choral.

    In bouzouki music, they’re called dromoi, meaning roads or paths, and the more common ones use the Persian names — hijaz, ousak, rast, niavente, etc. This is a better description, but unfortunately the page does not translate.

    Got an hour and a half for a video? 🙆
    The four-course* bouzouki is the high (in pitch) four strings of the guitar extended by two frets — open being D, A, F, C instead of E, B, G, D.

    *The strings are double– the two highest in unison, the two lowest an octave.

    nk (dbc370)

  33. Our church modes, Byzantine, are a different category in themselves. Here’s Hail Mary Full Of Grace. Same words. ;

    nk (dbc370)

  34. Bach’s Little Fugue in G minor contains similarities to Journey’s Separate Ways.

    John W (38ce87)

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.3402 secs.