I'm trying to learn by ear the chord progression of "Copacabana" by Barry Manilow. I'm having some trouble with making sense of the chorus because it feels like so much is changing so fast. Here's what I have so far:

Fm7 Bb7 Eb7

Fm7 Bb7 Eb7

Bb7 Fm7 Gm7 C7

Fm7 Bb7 Gm7 C7 Adim7 D7


I get that the first two lines are 2-5-1 progressions, but how do I make sense of the rest?

  • I suggest double-checking your transcription. I think there are some different chords in lines 3 and 4 which might allow the progression to make more sense.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jun 10 at 3:51
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    OT: please avoid any "help me", "pls", etc., both in the question body and in its title. Such remarks are useless (nobody will stop what they are doing just because they read "please help me"), distracting (such wording is meaningless while doing research) and fundamentally pointless, since they don't change the relevance of what you're asking. Always try to write proper titles in your questions, summarizing what you're actually asking: anything in the title that doesn't do that is just useless noise that won't help anybody (including you). See How to Ask. Commented Jun 11 at 3:14

1 Answer 1


If you want to "cheat", owing to the popularity of Barry Manilow's 1978 song Copacabana there are plenty of scores such as

from which it is easier to analyze chord progression as the intermediary step.

I "cheated" but I did modify some chord symbols to align better with what I hear in the original recording up to the minute 2:15. For the purpose of harmonic function analysis I also simplify / modify the chord symbols based on the more prominent chord notes in the recording, ignoring the -5th, 7th, -9th, 9th, etc. especially when they are only found in the melody.



Gm9         | Fm9       | Gm9      | Fm9      Gm9     |


Fm7    Bb9  | Ebmaj7    | Am7  D   | Gm               |

Fm7    Bb9  | Ebmaj7    | Am7  D   | Gm               | 

D7(-9) Gm   | D7(-9) Gm | Cm   D7  | Gm D7/f# Bb7/f   |


Fm     Bb   | Ebmaj7    | Fm   Bb  | Ebmaj9 C9        |

Fm     Bb   | Csus4  C7 |

Fm     Bb   | Gm     C  | Fm       | D7               |

Bridge (same as Intro) to repeat from the beginning



Most scores curiously use a key signature with 3 flats but apart from the Chorus the piece spends a lot more time centered in G minor (including the ending), so to the ear it sounded as if the key is G minor. I agree with the 2nd score above that the key signature should have been 2 flats.

I would say that the Verse goes back and forth between Eb major and G minor although largely in (and ends in) G minor. But the Chorus stays solidly in Eb major (confirming your perception that the Chorus begins with a 2-5-1 progression) until the abrupt D7 chord at the very end to modulate back to G minor. What may threw you off is the prominent C major chords at the end of lines 1 and 2 below, which is the dominant to the ii chord (Fm) and how the 3rd line seems to be in F minor (1-4-2-5-1) before the final D7 chord. But since the melody of the 3rd line stays in Eb major (thanks @JohnBelzaguy) the progression can also be conceived in Eb major as 2-5-3-6Maj-2.

  • For the Intro (in G minor), I wouldn't call it a "progression" since it's just Gm9 and Fm9 chords shifting back and forth, ending in Gm9.

  • Verse: mostly in G minor

    2-5-1 in E-flat major followed by 2-5-1 in G minor.

    2-5-1 in E-flat major followed by 2-5-1 in G minor.

    5-1-5-1-4-5-1 in G minor ended with 3 accented chords Gm D7/f# and Bb7/f (a quarter note each) to make a quick modulation back to E-flat major preparing for the Chorus.

  • Chorus: in E-flat major

    2-5-1-2-5-1-6Maj (C9)

    2-5-6Maj (Csus4 then C7)

    2-5-3-6Maj-2 ending with D7 (dominant of G minor) to modulate back to G minor.

  • Bridge (in G minor) before repeating the Verse + Chorus is the same as the Introduction.

  • What you refer to as chorus 1&2 are typically labeled verse and chorus since they are different material. There are issues with your interpretation of chorus 2. What you refer to as an aborted modulation is simply a V/IIm. Moving on from there the chorus doesn’t modulate to F minor, it is still all Eb major, reinforced by the fact that the melody continues to revolve around Eb. At that point. The final line is simply IIm-V7, IIm-V7/Iim, IIm, then it modulates back to G minor with a V7 of that key. Commented Jun 10 at 15:23
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    @JohnBelzaguy Thanks, I have to relabel the sections into Verse and Chorus. Looks like the most damaging to my analysis is "the fact that the melody continues to revolve around Eb" at the end of the Chorus. In addition, your interpretation is simpler; why introduce modulation if it's not needed, right? I think what throws me off is the persistent E-natural in the last line, which shouted to me: "I'm a leading tone" and because 6th chord in E-flat major is C minor. So how would you account for the E natural in the chords? Also, do you think the Verse is okay? I'll revise this answer later. Commented Jun 10 at 15:44
  • if you are talking about the E in the C7 it is the leading tone of the sedondary dominant, C7, which resolves to the IIm chord. This C7 functions the same way as the C9 earlier in the chorus, leading to Fm7. Commented Jun 10 at 16:36
  • Yes, the verse is ok. It can have an alternate interpretation though. The interesting thing about the verse is that it seems to start in Eb but heavily tonicizes the Gm with the 2-5, and also with the fact that the verse ends in G minor. The two keys are not relative major/minor but are closely related. Eb is the bVI of Gm and G minor is the IIIm of Eb so a logical alternate approach would be to think of the verse as G minor and the chorus as Eb major. Commented Jun 10 at 16:42
  • Another comment is that I would take these chord changes with a grain of salt. They’re not completely accurate but they do show the harmonic function well enough. One big example is in the verse the Am7-D7’s are really minor 2-5’s, Am7b5-D7b9. Commented Jun 10 at 16:47

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