This article is about a song I heard via Pandora radio, called Pacoca, by Celso Machado.

The original piece was written for flute and guitar and it is a song with such character and personality, that made me wonder how would this sound if played with a mandolin? I knew the answer before I even asked the question. It would sound fantastic, as almost all pieces that are written for the flute when performed with mandolin.

This is the second article in the How-to-Play-Pacoca Article Series that I have created, to log my journey from selecting a music piece till recording and releasing it, hoping that it will inspire mandolinists to do it as well!

The first article was the Introductory article to the How-to-Play-Pacoca Article Series.

This second article is about the first phase of the journey:

Phase 1: Preparation

  • Find the music sheet of the piece and if possible a tab.
  • Search the internet for info about the composer
  • Try to play the mandolin part while listening to a recording, to get a feel of the rhythm.

Preparation Step #1: Finding the Music Sheet of Pacoca

I believe that composers deserve to be paid for their compositions, so they are able to keep doing what they do best, give joy to all of us. Therefore, although I was tempted to start looking around for a free Music Score or a tab of Pacoca, I decided I should do it right and go buy it.

My research lead me to an online music sheet shop, where I found the Music Sheet of Pacoca, included in a booklet with a nice front page.

Music Sheet of Pacoca from Celso Machado

The contents of the booklet where according  to the shop the following:

  • Pacoca (Choro)
  • Quebra Queixo (Choro)
  • Piazza Vittorio (Choro Maxixe)
  • Algodao Doce (Samba)
  • Sambossa (Bossa Nova)
  • Pe De Moleque (Samba)

I decided to buy it (price was 14,95 USD or 11,23 Euros) and I was very happy with my decision.

The book arrived in just three days, in perfect condition and packaging. It contained Pacoca that I was looking for, as well as other nice duets I will be trying later on.

Below is a link if you decide to purchase it too.

Musiques Populaires Bresiliennes
By Celso Machado (1953-). For flute and guitar. Classical. Grade 3. Score. 14 pages. Published by Editions Henry Lemoine (LM.24893)…more info

Preparation Step #2: Researching the composer (Celso Machado)

celso machado

My research revealed that Celso Machado is a virtuoso Brazilian guitarist, percussionist, multi-instrumentalist and composer. Drawing on his thorough study of classical guitar, Celso composes for guitar and ensemble.  His compositions are infused with the traditional music of Brazil: samba, chôro, baião, frêvo etc.

His compositions are published by Editions Henry Lemoine in Paris and are performed and recorded by both students and professionals around the World, from solo performances to guitar orchestras.  Many of his scores have been adapted for other instruments: piano, violin, cello, clarinet, pan pipes, harp etc

For more see: Link to Celso Machado site

Paçoca (Portuguese:[pɐˈsɔkɐ]), the name of the song, is actually the name of two different Brazilian dishes:

  • In Northeastern Brazil, especially in Fortaleza, Ceará, and in Rio Grande do Norte, it is a dish made of carne de sol (sun-dried beef), cassava flour and red onions, ground together in a mortar (pilão), which is why it is also known as paçoca de pilão in the rest of Brazil.
  • In other regions of Brazil, paçoca is a kind of candy made of ground peanuts and sugar. It began as a home-made candy in the interior of the state of São Paulo, but today it is manufactured commercially and can be found in supermarkets and shops.

The name “paçoca” comes from the Tupi word “posok” (pronounced /pɔsɔk/) which means “to crumble” or “to shatter”.

Source: Wikipedia


Preparation Step #3: Getting a feel of the rhythm and tune

The best way to start the learning procedure is to try to play the tune while listening to it (by ear). So here is my recording for you to try:

Pacoca, arranged for mandolin and guitar and performed by Chris!


But remember, you have first to tune the mandolin, otherwise playing along other performances will sound …disturbing! You can find information on how to tune your mandolin in the following articles here at theMandolinTuner:

I have found that when playing along youtube videos, it is a good idea to use a desktop music stand such as the one on the eft. This is because I am sitting on my desk to use my computer and at the same time playing my mandolin. So, having a desktop music stand makes my life easier!

Next steps

In the following articles, I will step you through the first two pentagrams of Pacoca, to help you understand how to play it. To make it easier, I will add a recording of the guitar part so you can play along, but also the mandolin part. I will also analyze the chords, to reveal the structure of the song and what makes it so nice.

So prepare for that and if you feel like you want to follow, I suggest you order to music score to have it ready, but only if you think it is a good idea, I do not want you to spend your money on something that is not useful for you. Once you have the score, here is a list of all articles for Pacoca for easy access:

Do you like Pacoca? Use the comments below to let me know!



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