Samba De Orfeu

Will Patton

Hello and bom dia mandofolks,

In this workshop we'll take a look at Luiz Bonfa's Samba De Orfeu (Samba De Orpheus) from the film "Black Orpheus" (1959). I'm sure many of you are already familiar with this film, but if not, you're in for a real treat. In many ways the musical score led the way for the bossa nova explosion that was to follow a few years later, and served as an introduction to the music of Bonfa, Vinicius De Moraes and Antonio Carlos Jobim. The haunting melody of Manha De Carnaval was also written for this film, and can be heard on David Grisman's CD "Dawganova".

The rhythmic feeling underlying this tune is a true samba: (and 1...and 3...and 1...and 3) with a slight emphasis on the 3, emulating the surdo, or big bass drum of the bateria. The form is a classic A A B A, the A part consisting of 16 measures and the bridge or release having 8 measures. The tune is easy to improvise on, with fairly straightforeward changes, and a series of II / V / I's in the B section.

On the D minor chords in measures 9-12, I sometimes play:



and for the Gsus I use:



For the Cmaj7/C6 vamp I like:



The melody as written pushes hard against the limits of notation. Brazilian music in general has an infectious, gently insistent groove that defies my efforts to capture it on a written score. However, this tune really lays well on mandolin, and as you become familiar with the melody I think the rhythmic nuances will make themselves known. Have a lot of fun with this one and by all means try to find this great movie and let it work it's magic on you.

Best Regards,
Will Patton