The song Corcovado, by Stan Getz and Astrud Gillberto, begins with a light piano and sound of an upright bass before the vocal track begins. The intro is minimal, with a thin texture best characterized by an airiness that extends throughout the song. The thin texture places emphasis on each of the instruments as well as the vocals, all of which have different melodies or rhythmic functions rather than mimicking one another. The tempo is kept through both the upright bass and marimbas, with a relatively slow tempo used throughout. However, towards the midpoint of the song, the saxophone solo begins to increase the pulse slightly, resulting in a medium tempo.
The mood of the song is relaxed, romantic and contemplative; Immediately upon hearing the song begin, one could easily imagine a quiet and smoky lounge while sipping on wine. The song is very effective at conveying this mood throughout, which makes it very enjoyable to listen to; one could listen actively, paying attention to the each lyric, or listen to it in the background and it would still have the same calming effect. The dynamics of the song remain constant, with little change; the only variation would occur during the saxophone solo, which creates a new melody that does not mirror the vocals. The tonal color in the song is similarly consistent, created by the slow and steady pulse of the bass line, the mellifluous vocals, and lilting saxophone that complements the track. The tonal color therefore creates a soothing mood that remains throughout the song, with a consistent overall texture that only becomes slightly more uptempo toward the end of the track, following the saxophone.
The song follows strophic form, as each of the stanzas contain the same vocal melody accompanied by the constant percussion, which does not change between verses. The lyrics similarly work well in both Portuguese and English, as Gillberto is able to shift from one to the other in a natural, non-distracting way. The two languages complement each other, rather than contrast, so using both languages concurrently is a better method than relying on one language exclusively.
The use of the tenor saxophone is perhaps the thread that keeps the song intact and gives it a particularly unique feel. Each slight melody produced by the saxophone at the end of each verse, along with the solo in the middle of the song, is different; although the vocal melody and percussion remain constant, the saxophone is what provides variation and keeps each stanza from sounding identical. After the vocals end, the song closes with the saxophone holding a note while there is a slight increase in the amount of percussion to signify the song’s end. This is an effective close to the song, as it provides a new point of emphasis with the shift in both the tempo and volume of the percussion, while naturally indicating the end of the song in a manner that is readily identifiable to the listener.
The best way to describe the mood of the song is contemplative, wistful, romantic and calming. I would listen to this song after completing this assignment for these reasons; it can match many different moods but does not become overwhelmingly maudlin. There is a hint of sadness throughout, but this is not a painful sadness, but rather one that recognizes previous heartache while still instilling a feeling of hope. At the same time, the variations in saxophone give the ear a different point of focus, so that the song does not become the same repeated loop. The simplicity of the song is perhaps its most effective quality, as it is able to convey so many different emotions with relatively few instruments and a subdued vocal.