Sep 21, 2014

"Doce de Coco" and "Tangerine"

I just can't resist this stuff. Check out the "B" section to Jacob do Bandolim's choro "Doce de Coco" (coconut candy*), a Brazilian classic, and compare it to the American jazz standard "Tangerine" by Victor Schertzinger. The harmonic structures are suspiciously similar. Some details differ, but the basic shape is:

  • mm 1-12:  II  V  I  three times
  • mm 13-14:  modulation up a major third, to the key of the III ( I  VI  II  V in the new key)
  • mm 15-16: set up return to II in the original key
  • mm 17-22:  Like mm 1-6
  • mm 23-24: bVIIdom, acting as subV of the following V of II
  • m 25:  II
  • m 26-27  II  V  I  to the relative minor
  • mm 28-32  progression differs somewhat

Chord charts are below.

"Tangerine" dates to 1941; Jimmy Dorsey's version was #1 in the charts for 6 weeks. "Doce de Coco" was composed in 1951. Jacob, a very fine musician, would almost certainly have known the earlier tune.

Here's Jacob do Bandolim - the "B" section in question starts at 0:47:

Here's a mellow version of "Tangerine" with Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins:

Yes, I know, the harmonic similarity isn't obvious at first listen - the tunes have a very different character otherwise. But check out the chord charts, below. The charts are in different keys, so you'll have to transpose. Click to enlarge.

*Comment from my friend Carlos: A better literal translation is coconut brittle. This is a popular brittle you find in street markets in Brazil, which you buy in chunks, looks like peanut brittle we have here. Doce de coco can also be made as a thick paste, like a jam that you eat with a spoon, or roll into small truffles. But in the context of the song (I found some lyrics online) it actually means "sweetheart" or "cutie pie", also a common popular expression.

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