Slightly Out of Tune

The last two weeks I’ve been working on the Jobim tune “Desafinado”. In English it means “Slightly Out of Tune”, hence the name of this blog.

If one gets out the real book to learn this tune, you will find many errors in the melody and in the chords. I learned it by EAR and then looked at the music. I was appalled. Down below I have listed those errors (for those interested).

I didn’t just trust my own ears, I checked what I obtained by referring to the Jobim Songbook (that is known for it’s accuracy) and had my instructor with really incredible ears listen along during my lesson.

Generations of jazz musicians have played this tune wrong. In the Real Book 5th edition, the music was even missing four bars. So you have musicians who learned it from a book playing the song with four measures missing….or worse, one guy playing the version with four bars missing and the drummer playing the longer version 🙂

Those four bars are no longer missing in the updated editions, but musicians are still making a bunch of errors:
There are four bars within the song that the musicians still all play wrong? Why? Because they learned from a book. Even if you listen to the Stan Getz recording he is playing the wrong changes. I love Getz’s playing, but he is playing the wrong changes.

One would think that as a person learns a song, one would respect the composer and the composition enough to take the time to actually LISTEN to what they intended. In this case, simply get the Jobim recording and see if what is written on the page is representative of the recording.

I am amazed how many musicians rely only on books or sheet music to learn music. Don’t assume the books are right, assume they are wrong and verify.

I believe books are helpful (especially when your ears aren’t up to par), but you’ve got to train your ears to hear the material eventually. You might as well get started now.

In this case, we are talking GENERATIONS of jazz musicians playing “Desafinado” wrong. Not just in performance, but on numerous recordings.
An entire culture affected by a badly transcribed “real book.” One guy learned it from the book and he played with other musicians who learned it the same way…the wrong changes got passed down musician to musician and pretty soon you are left with something the original composer didn’t even intend.

So PLEASE, the next time you want to learn a song, try learning the song by ear first and then compare to the sheet music. Respect the music and always verify what you have learned.

Here are the errors:
Measure 11 is a D MAJOR, it is not a D7b9
Measure 13 is a G9 (the melody is supposed to be on an A, not an Ab)
Measure 14 IS a G7b9 because now the melody is Ab
Then here is the gravest error of all,
Measures 29 through 32 are COMPLETELY wrong, it does not go
Amaj Bbdiminished Bmin7 E7
The correct changes are
Amaj Abaltered G7 F#7
Why would anyone want to change the original changes? They are absolutely beautiful
As you can see, they aren’t even related.

Then in measure 38 the chord is a Cmaj7 (not a F#-7)

There are a lot more errors, but that’s all I’m listing for now

Jody Written by:

Professional Musician of 27 years. I've played Banjo and Acoustic Guitar on the stages of Carnegie Hall, The Grand Ole Opry, and The Ryman Auditorium. I've also played in six different countries.

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