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2.3 – harmonic-melodic matrices

With regards to the harmonic-melodic relations, our dialogues investigate the possibilities of articulation between what arises from the instrument and what arises from the voice, an issue that intertwines with the dichotomy of what we realize as musical matter of “harmonic nature” or “melodic nature” [i]. This contrast, which is historical in the development of the European music, appears in several moments of this study, very much driven by the contrast between the guitar chord symbols which have a “vertical” view – generally used for harmonic annotations by those that deal with popular song – and the material with linear sense that is developed in “horizontal” directionality and demands score writing.

Following Sérgio Assad’s trajectory, we resume the solo guitar universe connected with the written tradition:



00:00 composer’s side shaken when entering the School of Music

At the time when we arrived in Rio (year of 1969) I was already fully involved with the guitar,
and my main activity was the Duo Assad.
When I entered the National School of Music to study “Conducting”,
my composer’s side, if I have ever had any, became shaken.
Because at the time the dodecaphonic music as well as Koellreutter’s heritage was very strong.
Everyone was concerned with this musical aesthetic.
I felt shy because the things that naturally occurred to me were songs.
I even tried to do some serial music, but I couldn’t and ended giving up.

01:56 resuming with Piazzola, Radamés, Gismonti

02:56 focus on the song:  building beautiful melodies

My focus has always been the song itself
where I started – it was like that that I started;
thus I am always searching for melodies
I believe it is something very difficult to really build beautiful melodies [i]
— that is a quality that few people have.
The guys who have it are acclaimed
and their songs are memorable and everyone remembers.


The compositional process of an author who equilibrates the practical experience of “knowing how to make songs” with the resources of who has developed himself in the field of “writing elaborated music” leads us into an investigation that deals with the tension between “written tradition” and “oral tradition”.

Guinga presents us parts of Tom Jobim’s music in voice and guitar, highlighting aspects that fascinate him:



00:00  Tom Jobim: Canção em Modo Menor

01:07 Um rancho das nuvens

Guinga presents the first part of the music which develops taking over the B major key in order to solve in its relative key, G-sharp minor. The G#m7 chord makes use of an eleventh (11), which is highlighted in its effect by the musician in the second bar of the transcribed part on the following page. Moment in which Guinga presents Jobim exploring – once again – the mediant (third scale degree) relations [i], by means of the movement that goes from the established G-sharp minor key, which closes the first part, and reaches the triadic C minor chord – which opens the contrasting moment of the composition – finally leading (and also by mediant relation) to the E minor also triadic. Another form of expression of this “same” and “simple” minor triad. [i]



02:00 I did it because of this: Pra quem quiser me visitar (Guinga/A. Blanc)


The effect of transition between the established G-sharp minor key and the C minor chord by a triad descendent arpeggio in the melody takes me to a song by Guinga himself, a part of which (transcribed below) I play on the guitar, singing the lyrics by Aldir Blanc to make it clear to which song I refer to. [i]

Para quem quiser me visitar, composed a tone below, makes use of this same harmonic relation by unleashing the established minor key [F sharp minor] and starting – at equivalent moment also related to the formal structure of the composition – its contrasting part in B flat minor. Thus, Guinga uses the same mediant relation as Jobim does – who in his turn – very likely assimilated it through his contact as a pianist of romantic repertoire [i] of erudite tradition, which in this way represents the source, the important matrix of Tom Jobim’s music.


Guinga reacts to the memory activated by this equivalence between the two compositions.



That was it!
It was because of that that I made the second part of that song of mine in his homage.
[he plays first alone then with me]

Pra quem quiser me visitar

Guinga/Aldir Blanc

Fiz o meu rancho lá nas nuvens
Onde se pode conversar,
Onde os anjinhos são cor de chope…
Tomo cuidado só em debruçar
Vendo o mar, aí…
Toco piano e a virgem canta,
Diz pro menino: tio tom.
Senta à vontade a cocha santa
Me dá saudade de Leblon.
Sei das manhãs
Que só nascem de tarde
Entre silêncios de alardes,
Vi que o sol sente inveja das asas do urubu…
Aos meus amigos que ficaram
Um portador há de levar
Um par de asas
E um paraquedas
Pra quem quiser me visitar.

[the descriptive transcription – in the book – follows intercalating observations and indications  in detailing the relation between the sheet music and the moment lived then]

  1. Worth mentioning that the evident relevance of the African melody – even though instrumentally (in Kora’s repertoire, for example) – does not present “harmonic nature”, at least in the European patterns.

  2. LINK  with the idea “It took Jobim a long time to elaborate, search for the melodic lines, solutions. A very rich music, a masterpiece, which does not come out overnight.” Bellinati in 6.2 – the “Jongo” of Bellinati and the “Jongo of Tamandaré”.

  3. It is worth mentioning that the enarmonia issue is a key point for the study of the conflict between the written tradition and the oral tradition. Since the relation between G-sharp minor and C minor [the fourth] would demand an adjustment enarmonizing to A flat minor, for example – so that the mediant relation [the third] with C minor would not get lost. Such an adjustment is not adopted by Jobim, among other factors, for the quantity of existing flats in the A flat minor key signature. In the same way as it happens, a pitch lower, between F sharp minor and B flat minor in Guinga’s music presented as follows.

  4. LINK with the idea “(the use of) ‘alphanumeric cypher’ enables each chord to get a dimension of greater autonomy in relation to the tonal center” presented in 6.1 – seeing doing it: “Jimbo in jazz”.

  5. The two compositions are on the same page, even though they are in different tonalities, in order to facilitate  the comparison highlighted by marks of the equivalent moment in both compositions.

  6. Period in which the relations of the mediant are established in the concert repertoire