How Insensitive - Jazz Guitar Chord Melody

How Insensitive (Insensatez)

(by A.C. Jobim)

How Insensitive (aka Insensatez in portuguese) is one of the most played and recorded latin tune in jazz history. It has a long form resembling, believe it or not, a Chopin piece somehow… English lyrics by Norman Gimbel. Its popularity is probably due to the mood it creates: dark yet has some brilliant passages within.

I must admit, I enjoy playing this piece so much that it’s on the setlist at virtually every gig I play! Whether it’d be solo guitar, in a duo, trio or quartet, we always find a place to squeeze this one in.

The rather long (32-bar) form makes it really fun to improvise over, especially because the two last sections are very similar in a few interesting ways.

To summarize the harmony, How Insensitive chords are pretty interesting: the start is in the general vicinity of D minor with a little momentary twitch on a C minor chord. Then it moves to bVI and bII major chords (Bb and Eb) only to ‘fall back’ down to a D minor tonality.

The two last sections both start on a Cm7, and you got to watch out not to confuse them (i.e. getting lost in the form!) So the first time around you get a descending root motion with passing diminished … only to wind back on Dm! And the second time a nice parallel motion on Cm7-F7, Bm7-E7 that also gravitates to Dm for the ending.

How Insensitive: Chord Melody

Here’s the chord melody. Since there’s a lot of chords going in this form and since the melody is often based on extensions (13th, 9ths, etc.), this arrangement is mostly suited for intermediate players:

The PDF includes the leadsheet (standard notation), the chord melody arrangement (in TABS) and a last sheet with basic chord shapes for comping. Enjoy!

Suggested Listening

It’s funny, every time I think of this tune, Pat Metheny comes to mind. I believe he has played and recorded it many times … I’ve seen some “live” versions on Youtube that are worth checking out! All time favorite: We Live Here DVD. Neat rendition of the melody by uncle Pat, plus some nice arranged punches by Antonio Sanchez:

Pat Metheny DVD - plays How Insensitive beautifully

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