Axis of Awesome – 4 Chords

Awhile ago, I had posted about Pachelbel’s Rant where Rob Paravonian identified lots of modern day pop music using the same notes as Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Yesterday on Digg, I had found another musical comedian group that did something similar, titled Axis of Awesome – 4 Chord Song

What got me wondering is if the 4 chords they played actually mapped into any of the 8 notes that the cello repeats for Canon in D. For those who haven’t seen Pachelbel’s Rant, you should:

About 1:18 into Pachelbel’s Rant is where Paravonian starts listing the 8 notes he plays over and over again. I tried to compare that with the 4 chords that Benny (Chicken Little) plays at about 0:30 into the Axis of Awesome video. The 1st 4 notes that Paravonian plays do sound a bit similar, but they don’t seem to quite match up. There were definitely a few songs that were played in both Pachelbel’s Rant and the 4 Chord Song:

  • U2 – Without or Without You
  • Natalie Imbruglia – Torn
  • Beatles – Let It Be

After speaking with Xyon, it turns out not all songs really play the same notes, but is using what is called chord progression (shifting scales as I learnt in piano). Here’s an interesting article he linked me to: Writing Better Songs: Analyzing Pachelbell’s Canon in D / Basketcase

Now I have some new songs to add to my music collection!

Update: Thanks to Tekman for providing some additional data:

Canon in D is: 1, 5, 6m, 3m, 4, 1, 4, 5 (D, A, Bm, F#m, G, D, G, A)
Their four chords were: 1, 5, 6m, 4 (D, A, Bm, G)

Also, the Australian guys cheated a lot. Theirs is essentially one of the foundational cadences of western music that is in almost every song ever. And they just used the tiny parts of the songs that were similar. Though, for example, since 4 is very much like 2m, they just fudged it. (Again, in Canon in D, G is very much like Em.)

Leave a Reply