Manha de Carnaval | Luiz Bonfa

Luiz Bonfa composed this world-famous melody in 1959 for the film Orfeu Negro. Interpreted by many jazz and pop musicians, the song became internationally known under its english title Black Orpheus. On the fantastic live recording “Solo in Rio 1959” Luiz Bonfa, whose main instrument was the guitar, plays “Manha de Carnaval”.


Bonfa’s arrangement is already a full-fledged solo guitar arrangement. However, the melody is played very simply and clearly, so this version is ideal for learning the song.


Manha de Carnaval is in the key of A minor. The melody is rather easy to play on the guitar and can be prepared with a combination of the first position scales and a few notes in the fifth position. It is worth reviewing the fingerings of the open scales A minor and C major:

The additional fingering up to a’ (high a on the fifth fret of the high e string):

In order to get an overview of the melody tones in the fifth position (and to play the melody exclusively in this position if necessary), here is the standard fingering of the C major scale (corresponds to the notes of the A minor scale) in the fifth position:


After these preparations and based on the recording, you can now start learning the melody. Luiz Bonfa plays the melody very clean and with almost no rhythmic variations. It is a perfect introduction to the song because the usual rhythmic difficulties of the Bossa Nova style do not apply.

Here you can follow the melody with the interactive sheet music:

Baden Powell - Solo Guitar

If you want to go a step further and learn the piece in an arrangement for solo guitar, I recommend this simplified adaptation of Baden Powell‘s live version:

I edited the live version’s intro, simplified it and put it together as an arrangement for solo guitar.

In contrast to Luiz Bonfa, Baden Powell plays the theme very freely and rather romantically and balladesque. And again, since the difficult component of the rhythm playing hardly plays a role in this arrangement, it is an excellent introduction to this piece.

Get the Arrangement!

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