Astrud Gilberto sings “Quiets Night of Quiet Stars” in 1963 and the world is still at her feet today. Corcovado is the name of the famous mountain in Rio de Janeiro on which the statue of Christ the Redeemer stands. Tom Jobim put a monument to the monument:

Joao Gilberto - His Guitar Chords

Joao Gilberto played the song regularly and his chords are – as with many other bossa nova pieces – the ultimate reference point for every guitar player. Let’s have a look at the voicings:

This Am6 chord is a jazz and bossa classic. Definitely have it “at hand”!

The diminished chord is one of the most distinctive chords in bossa nova music. Here it functions as a link between the Am6 and…

…the Gm7 chord. This voicing belongs to the basic four-note chords and is part of the II-VI cadence to F major.

The dominant of the cadence, C7, here with the upper extension note of the ninth. Greetings from jazz and blues!

And finally the target chord: F6, an F major triad with sixth. This chord is often used as a tonic sound instead of its brother FMaj7.

The F6 is changed to F minor6. Since the tonality of the piece is A minor/C major, this chord can be interpreted as a minor subdominant. 

Another II-V cadence follows. This E minor 7th chord is a very nice alternative to the standard 1st position voicing.

The dominant seventh chord follows again. In this case it is the A7 with the upper extension F, i.e. the flattened thirteenth (b13).

Since the F minor-6 chord, the harmonies lead directly to C major. The D7 chord confirms the listening impression: it is the secondary dominant with the fifth in the bass.

And on we go with the D minor7 chord. You expect a G7 chord that resolves to C major, but… 

…there comes one of the most beautiful twists of this song: the G# diminished chord, in this case as a shortened secondary dominant back to A minor.

At this point, the piece repeats itself from the beginning and the chord progression changes from the F minor 6th chord, only to finally resolve to C major. Joao Gilberto has some more nice voicings to showcase the beautiful harmonies.

Get the arrangement!

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