Welcome to another week of Rhythm Through Diversity on Metronome Online. This time we will be exploring bossa nova, a musical form developed in the 1950s in one of the world’s largest cultural capitals, the famous Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Rhythm and time in music are closely related to the development of culture, history and background of people in different communities and bossa nova doesn’t fall far from that. Let’s take a look at this popular style of samba.

Milton Banana, a drummer who played with João Gilberto and Stan Getz, is said to have coined the bossa beat as a way to simplify the beat of the samba, introducing innovative syncopation and unconventional chords. Closely related to the work of Gilberto and his guitar playing, the bossa nova was a way of asserting the rhythm of samba onto the classical guitar.

Bossa nova was a way of asserting the rhythm of samba onto the classical guitar.

With Brazilian music giants like Antônio Carlos Jobim, Baden Powell, Vinicius de Moraes and US jazz artists such as Stan Getz, Paul Winter and Quincy Jones, advocating for the style, bossa nova quickly took the world by storm. A 1963 hit ‘Mas que Nada’ was a wide success and a vehicle to popularize this newly found samba style. Bossa’s rhythm patterns are based on samba, whose second beat treatment is similar to the bossa nova. On the classical guitar a one-bar pattern would include the thumb playing bass on beats 1 and 2, with the chords plucked on the two eighths of beat one, followed by a second sixteenth note of beat two. When two-measure patterns are used the rhythm contains a syncopation carrying into the second measure.

What better way to get an understanding about music than by listening. Let’s take a look at the master himself, João Gilberto playing Desafinado, in a live concert video! Try to feel the groove. 😉