Wave – Antonio Carlos Jobim

Here is an adaptation for Ukulele, Guitar and Congas of a bossa nova standard by Antonio Carlos Jobim composed in 1967: Wave.

To begin, I want to say that the album Wave is my favorite bossa nova album. And then, there is this green psyche cover with the giraffe!
Of course, we could debate at length about the most emblematic songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Chega de Saudade, Desafinado, One Note Samba or the inevitable Girl From Ipanema.

Basically, all his compositions count. Also, the influence of Carlos Jobim on several generations of musicians is obvious.

Why this song.

This is definitely one of my favorite standards. Indeed, I find that this song gives off something incredibly positive and fresh. Also, despite the rich and sophisticated music, I find this composition full of evidence and simplicity.


First the key, in D major. Then the form, here an AABA with A of 12 bars and B of 8 bars.

It is the A that interests me most in terms of the harmonic grid. The key points are, in my opinion, measure 1 which gives the tone: D major. Then degree IV bar 5 with G major. Then I love the degree IV which turns into degree IV minor with G minor. This sequence is common and one finds it in full of pieces of the time (la vie en rose, new york new york etc…)

And finally, bars 11 and 12 which looks like a II V to go on C major? Strange conclusion to a D major grid, isn’t it? From my point of view, it is mainly a question here of creating an ambiguity between D major and D minor. Indeed this ambiguity is, in my eyes, one of the keys of the blues. In this way, while being in a very bossa nova rhythmic and harmonic context, this end of the grid evokes a very groovy blues side.

One could also speak about the convoluted melody which develops on a rather broad amplitude, almost 2 octaves. Or of the alternation of talkative phrases, separated by full notes.

Parc de Belleville - Mastomo
Parc de Belleville, Paris 20ème © Mastomo

Video capture.

For this multi-track, I chose to first film and record the guitar. Then the congas. This way, when I recorded the ukulele, I had everything in my ears to be comfortable playing the theme as well as improvising a solo.

Score and tablature.

If you wish, my adaptation is available in pdf format just below this text.
This is a non-commercial sharing.