Monday Notes

Joao Gilberto Bebel Gilberto, Chega De Saudade. From choro to bossa nova

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[Monday Notes no. 97] Joao Gilberto is the greatest bossa nova singer, the first to offer his voice and guitar to Antonio Carlos Jobim’s compositions. One of the best known is the song Chega De Saudade, performed here by Joao Gilberto in duet with his daughter Bebel.

Chega De Saudade is divided into two sections, the first in the key of D minor and the second in D major. This is not common in the Bossanova repertoire and recalls the oldest Brazilian popular music, in particular the Choro.

Vinicius de Moraes, the author of the lyrics, has cleverly made use of the bipartite form of the song. In the first part, the one in a minor mode, the text is sadder, speaking of the beloved’s absence.

Chega De Saudade prima parte
The first part of Chega De Saudade is in the key of D Minor

In the second part of the song, the one where it modulates more, the text is more optimistic: it speaks of the return of the beloved.

Chega De Saudade seconda arte
The second part of the piece is in the key of D major

Chega de Saudade is one of Jobim’s songs most difficult to sing, the melody often features arpeggiated chords and unusual intervals. In fact, the piece was initially conceived as an instrumental, only later Jobim asked Vinicius de Moraes to add lyrics.

Despite its difficulty, the piece is performed expertly by Bebel Gilberto, who was only fourteen years old when he recorded this video. Bebel sings the entire song, both the minor and the major part, then Joao Gilberto performs the minor part again and finally Bebel sings the major part again.

We observe, however, that Joao has a particular care for his daughter: the guitarist usually transforms songs with daring shifts of accents, but does not do so on this occasion, probably not to put the young daughter at risk.

Until next Monday!

Dedicated to my daughter Eleonora who solves equations as cheerfully as Bebel sings

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