Classical Guitar Instruction with Douglas Niedt
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THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA

Guitar sheet music and guitar tab

WATCH DOUG PLAY THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA!

What Makes This A Great Arrangement

In my arrangement for solo guitar, as the melody sings in the upper part and an independent bass part provides support below, a fluid and ever-changing samba rhythm swings gently but continuously in the accompaniment. The three parts are distinct and uninterrupted. Plus, I include a "sax solo" based on saxophonist Stan Getz's solos from the original recording. The guitar arrangement preserves the feel of Astrud Gilberto's cool and reserved vocal, devoid of singerly mannerisms.

Click the image to view some sample pages

Girl from Ipanema, arranged by Douglas Niedt sample page 1 Girl from Ipanema, arranged by Douglas Niedt sample page 2 Girl from Ipanema, arranged by Douglas Niedt sample page 3 Girl from Ipanema, arranged by Douglas Niedt sample page 4

Your sheet music package includes ten versions.

  1. Complete (with sax solo and string damping)—Standard Notation.
  2. Same in Standard Notation Plus Tab.
  3. Complete (with sax solo but no string damping)—Standard Notation.
  4. The same in Standard Notation Plus Tab.
  5. No Sax Solo (with string damping)—Standard Notation.
  6. The same in Standard Notation Plus Tab.
  7. No Sax Solo (no string damping)—Standard Notation.
  8. The same in Standard Notation Plus Tab.
  9. Complete (with sax solo) in Tab only.
  10. No sax solo in Tab Only.

Version #1 with the sax solo and string damping is the most difficult but sounds the best. The sax solo section is very cool. The string damping gives the chordal accompaniment independence from the melody and bass and makes the samba rhythm swing.

I recommend starting with the complete version with the string damping. If it is too difficult, you can play one of the versions without the sax solo or the string damping. The piece will still sound great.

The package also contains a PDF, The Fascinating Story of "Girl from Ipanema," which includes all the historical information and videos on this page.

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The entire sheet music package is only $10.00. It includes all ten versions, a notation key, five videos, and The Fascinating Story of "Girl from Ipanema."

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The Original Recording

Antônio Carlos (Tom) Jobim (the composer of the song and pianist), guitarist-singer João Gilberto, his then-wife Astrud Gilberto, and U.S. saxophonist Stan Getz recorded "Girl from Ipanema" in 1963. It is one of the sexiest recordings ever made; an enduring example of "less is more."

The way the track grows from Astrud's delicate verse to Getz's rhapsodic tenor solo is a master class in consensual seduction. This gentle fusion of cool jazz and Brazilian samba continues to inspire music lovers worldwide.


Here is the original complete album version:


Here is how it all came about, in Astrud's own words:

One day, a few hours before Stan Getz came to our New York City hotel for a scheduled rehearsal with João, he (João) told me with an air of mystery in his voice, "Today there will be a surprise for you." I begged him to tell me what it was, but he adamantly refused, and would just say, "Wait and see."
Later on, while rehearsing with Stan, as they were in the midst of going over the song "The Girl from Ipanema," João casually asked me to join in and sing a chorus in English after he had just sung the first chorus in Portuguese. So, I did just that.
When we were finished performing the song, Joao turned to Stan and said (in "Tarzan" English) something like, "Tomorrow Astrud sing on record. What do you think?" Stan was very receptive; in fact, very enthusiastic. He said it was a great idea.
The rest, of course, as one would say, "is history." I'll never forget that while we were listening back to the just-recorded song in the studio's control room, Stan said to me, with a very dramatic expression, "This song is going to make you famous."

Astrud and husband João joined the others at A&R Recording Studios in New York City on March 18, 1963. Astrud's subdued, beguiling vocal, devoid of vibrato and singerly mannerisms, "made" the song. Add João's hypnotic samba rhythms on the guitar, a Jobim piano solo, and Getz's creamy smooth tenor sax, and voila—four minutes of magic went to tape. Sebastião Neto on upright bass and Milton Banana on drums also joined in on the recording.

The full-length album version of the song opens with João Gilberto playing his guitar and singing in Portuguese; then comes a verse in English written by Norman Gimbel and sung by Astrud Gilberto. A shortened version of the song, featuring only Astrud's voice, was released as a single and was a worldwide hit, and came to define an entire genre, bossa nova, blending Brazilian samba with jazz and blues.

The Main Cast:

Composer-pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim

Antônio Carlos Jobim wrote the music to the "Girl from Ipanema" and played the piano on the original recording. He was a Brazilian composer, pianist, songwriter, arranger and singer. Jobim merged bossa-nova with jazz in the late 1950's to create a new sound with remarkable popular success. He is sometimes known as the "father of bossa nova".

Singer Astrud Gilberto

Astrud Gilberto sang the English vocal on the "Girl from Ipanema." Her inimitable style was in large part responsible for the success of the song and ensuing popularity of bossa-nova. At the time of the recording, she was married to singer-guitarist João Gilberto.

Singer-guitarist Joao Gilberto

João Gilberto was the guitarist on the "Girl from Ipanema" recording. In the full album version, he also sang the first section in Portuguese. He was a Brazilian singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and a pioneer of the musical genre of bossa nova in the late 1950s. He was the husband of singer Astrud Gilberto.

Saxophonist Stan Getz

Stan Getz was the saxophonist on the "Girl from Ipanema." He primarily played the tenor saxophone and was known as "The Sound" because of his warm, lyrical tone.

The Story Behind the Song

Summer 1962. Rio de Janeiro. At the Veloso Bar, a block from the beach at Ipanema, two friends—the composer Antônio Carlos Jobim and the poet Vinícius de Moraes—are drinking Brahma beer and musing about their latest song collaboration.

The duo favors the place for the excellent brew and the even better girl-watching opportunities. They have become mesmerized by a neighborhood girl nicknamed Helô, seventeen-year-old Heloisa Eneida Menezes Pais Pinto. Helô is a Carioca—a native of Rio. Tall and tan with long, dark hair, they watch her walk by "like a samba" as she heads to the beach or runs errands for her parents. She has a way of walking that de Moraes calls "sheer poetry."

Helô standing on Ipanema beach Helô sitting on Ipanema beach

Following their success composing songs for the 1959 film Black Orpheus, the writers began work on a musical comedy. Conceived by de Moraes, it was called Blimp and concerned a Martian who arrives in Rio during the height of Carnaval. And what might impress a little green man the most about our planet? A beautiful girl in a bikini, of course.

Jobim and de Moraes had writer's block on two verses in a song they called "The Girl Who Passes By." They needed a fresh breeze of inspiration, something vivid to stir their alien visitor's blood. Conjuring up the vision of their favorite hip-swaying distraction, they poured out all their secret longing, ultimately rewriting the song.

Though Blimp never got off the ground, in 1962 Brazilian singer Pery Ribeiro recorded the song under the title "Garota de Ipanema" ("Girl from Ipanema"). It became a massive hit in Brazil.

But it only became a worldwide hit in 1964 with a version recorded by singer Astrud Gilberto, guitarist-singer João Gilberto, U.S. saxophonist Stan Getz, and composer-pianist Antônio Carlos (Tom) Jobim. It became the international calling card for a style of music that charmed the world—bossa nova.


Here is Astrud Gilberto singing live, but without guitar accompaniment.

A year later, the song was casting its quiet spell of sea and sand on the music industry charts, washing past the Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand." It peaked in mid-June at No. 5, selling over two million copies.

In 1965, the single won the Grammy for "Record of the Year," and the album won for "Best Jazz Performance" and "Album of the Year."

"Girl From Ipanema" went on to become the second-most recorded popular song in history, missing out only to "Yesterday" by the Beatles.

Who Was the REAL "Girl from Ipanema?"

Though the song "Girl from Ipanema" shot 24-year-old singer Astrud Gilberto to worldwide fame in 1964, another figure overshadowed the singer in her home country. Instead of idolizing the song's performer, everyone in Rio de Janeiro seemed to be obsessing over the girl in the title. Who was "she"?

In 1965, the song's co-writer Vinicius de Moraes grew tired of the speculation and all the women pretending to be "The Girl," and held a press conference to reveal his inspiration's identity. Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, also called Helô, lived on Montenegro Street, near Ipanema beach. De Moraes and his long-time collaborator, pianist Antônio Carlos Jobim, often gawked at the seventeen-year-old from the Veloso bar as she ran errands for her parents.

Helô lying on Ipanema beach Helô in the water

At the time, Ipanema was a relatively obscure stretch of beach until the song made it famous. The street where the songwriters used to sit and watch the girls go by has been re-named Vinicius de Moraes Street in honor of the lyricist.

At his press conference, De Moraes explained that Helô's hip-swing defied "spatial geometry" and escaped "even Einstein's grasp." Moraes later wrote a book called Revealed: The Real Girl from Ipanema. He describes Pinheiro and the effect she unintentionally had on him and Jobim. He says she is the true paradigm of a Carioca girl. "The golden girl, mixed with flower and mermaid, full of light and grace but whose vision is also sad, because she carries with her, on the way to the sea, the feeling of what passes, of beauty that is not only ours – it is a gift of life in its beautiful and melancholy and steady flow."

Jobim did actually fall in love with the girl who rejected him repeatedly. Even as a married man, he would joke that he had only married his wife Ana Lontra because she looked like Helô.

The song propelled Pinheiro into the spotlight, and over the years, Helô Pinheiro (her married name) enjoyed country-wide fame, ranking with Pelé as one of the goodwill ambassadors of Brazil. It took a while for her to settle on an occupation. She dabbled in acting, then ran a modeling agency. In 1987, she posed nude for Playboy (and again in 2003 at age 58).

In 2001, Helô opened the Girl From Ipanema clothing boutique in a Rio shopping center. Shortly after, the heirs of de Moraes (who died in 1980) and Jobim (who died in 1994) filed a lawsuit, claiming Helô was only inadvertently involved in the song's creation and didn't have the right to use it for commercial purposes.

Helô said, "I never made a cent from 'Girl from Ipanema,' nor do I claim that I should. Yet now that I'm using a legally registered trademark, they want to prohibit me from being the Girl from Ipanema. I'm sure that Antônio and Vinícius would never question the use of the name."

Helô today smiling

Public support was firmly in favor of Pinheiro. Coinciding with their press conference in 1965, Jobim and Moraes, the composers, issued a written press release in which they named Pinheiro as the real Girl from Ipanema. Pinheiro's advocates used it as evidence that the composers had intended to bestow the title on her. The court eventually ruled in her favor, confirming Helô's status as an icon. Helô was able to keep the name for her boutique.

To this day, the muse-turned-businesswoman remains the "eternal girl from Ipanema." She confides, "I am still touched when somebody plays the song in my honor."


Meet the REAL Girl from Ipanema in these two charming video interviews:




The Girl from Ipanema, a supermodel,
and a moment of national pride

During the opening ceremony at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Daniel Jobim, the grandson of the song's composer, Antônio Carlos Jobim, performed "Girl from Ipanema." As Jobim played the piano and sang, 36-year-old Brazilian supermodel, Gisele Bundchen, made a long walk across the stadium, portraying the Girl From Ipanema in a gold sequin gown and 5-inch stilettos.

What was also amazing is that over 40 years after Grandfather Jobim wrote the song, the stadium of thousands knew every word, singing along with the grandson in a touching moment of national pride.




My thanks to the following writers for their insights on the "Girl from Ipanema":

BILL DEMAIN is the author of The Sterling Huck Letters and Behind the Muse: Pop and Rock's Greatest Songwriters Talk About Their Work and Inspiration. As a music journalist, he has written for such publications as MOJO, Entertainment Weekly, and Performing Songwriter.

JOHN L. WALTERS is a British editor, musician, critic, and composer. Walters also writes about creative music (including jazz, electronica, and world music) for The Guardian.

SARAH BROWN from The Culture Trip.

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Douglas Niedt is a seasoned, successful concert and recording artist and highly respected master classical guitar teacher with 50 years of teaching experience. He is Associate Professor of Music (retired), at the Conservatory of Music and Dance, University of Missouri-Kansas City and a Fellow of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management—Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Doug studied with such diverse masters as Andrés Segovia, Pepe Romero, Christopher Parkening, Narciso Yepes, Oscar Ghiglia, and Jorge Morel. Therefore, Doug provides solutions for you from a variety of perspectives and schools of thought.

He gives accurate, reliable advice that has been tested in performance on the concert stage that will work for you at home.