for classical musicians

Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) - Chorale Preludes

These templates can be used to improvise a chorale prelude in the style of Johann Pachelbel. They are designed as economically as possible to represent clearly the overall plan and structure. The chorale theme is given in full, followed by the prelude. Treble, alto, tenor and bass clefs are used to illustrate the four-voice texture; and each line of the chorale theme is marked thus: CHORALE I, II, III and so on.

Pachelbel's musical style is more simple and less chromatic than J.S. Bach. The harmonies can be easily figured, yielding predominantly root (5/3) and first-inversion (6/3) chords, although 6/5/3 also 6/4/2 and 6/4 chords also appear. 


Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder


  1. It helps to make a simple harmonisation of the chorale theme before starting on the Prelude as this provides a harmonic reference.
  2. Harmony: Pachelbel uses mainly root position (5/3) and first inversion (6/3) chords. However, 6/4, 6/4/2, 6/5/3 chords, also suspensions of 7/6 and 4/3 also appear. However, the style is simpler and less chromatic than J.S. Bach (for example).
  3. Because I am more used to Bach's writing, I found the simplicity of Pachelbel's writing hard to capture at first. I had to consciously investigate each chord and figure it before moving on. However, I found this exercise useful in understanding how to use these basic chords more effectively and expressively.
  4. Ornamentation, using J.S. Bach's table for ornaments, can be used to decorate the contrapuntal lines and the melodic phrases of the chorale. It's good to use these ornaments as they do more than decorate a note: I find that ornamentation also influences my choice of chord and contrapuntal accompaniment.
  5. The number of voices in the texture is left to the discretion of the student. 


Acg Gott vom Himmel, sieh darein


  1. This model is shorter and more simple in design. The chorale theme is included for reference (in a more vocal key than the prelude)
  2. The Prelude is basically a Fughetta on the first phrase of the Chorale melody. Only at the end, the final Bass entrance, is the second phrase of the Chorale introduced.
  3. Each voice enters in turn so that the first Bass entrance marks a four-voice texture.
  4. Following this, there is a short bridge passage over the Tenor line.
  5. For the final dominant pedal, just 5/3 and 6/4 chords can be used.