This article with guitar video lesson is a good start if you´re interested playing in the Bossa Nova style. I´ll show and discuss an easy comping exercise to a chord progression and then a Bossa Nova pattern with the same chord progression with coloured chord which I also show in the video.
Bossa Nova is a Brazilian music style that mixing the Brazilian samba rhythms with the North American jazz music and it became a permanent part of the jazz repertory, to judge by the number of compositions by Jobim in the "real book", the collection of lead sheets and charts professional musicians most often consult. There are 12 of Jobim’s songs in that book; only one North American composer has more in the same source.
The tune ”Girl from Ipanema” by Jobim which is in the ”real book” made the Bossa Nova well known over the world.
To get into the Bossa Nova style, listen to composers and artists as:
Antônio Carlos Jobim, Astrud Gilberto, João Gilberto and Luiz Bonfa
…and songs as The Girl from Ipanema, Desifinado, Corcovado.
Picture of Antônio Carlos Jobim
João Gilberto was obsessed to find new ways of playing the guitar. To the Bossa Nova he took rhythms from the Brazilian samba and applied it to the guitar. The style is most commonly played with the nylon string guitar and finger pluck. It´s combining the bass with samba rhythms in various patterns.
Before you start practice the chord progression in the video lesson and if you´ll find those chords and rhythm difficult you can start with the exercise below that´s built on the same chords but with easier chord shapes.
ll Cmaj7 l Am7 l Dm7 l G7 ll
Here are the easy exercise chord tabs:
Start to listen to the audio example of the easy exercise:
…and here´s the easy rhythm to Cmaj7:
As you´ll see the bass is on the 5th string and will keep the same rhythm through the progression. In Bossa Nova the rhythms are interacting each other so to the chords there is another rhythm. You´re playing the chords with index, middle and ring finger on the 3rd, 2nd and the 1st strings to the exercise.
Start practice the bass and chords separately before you putting these rhythms together. You can also split the bar in two pieces and practice the 1st half bar to start with and when you master that
you practice the 2nd half. Then you´ll putting them together.
Down below are the rhythms and chords to the easy Am7, Dm7 and G7 chord. The bass is on different strings but the chords are played on the same strings in the right hand through the progression. Play the bars twice.
In the video lesson I´ll show a common Bossa Nova pattern.
Here´s the chord progression.
ll Cmaj9 l Am11 l Dm9 l G13 ll
Here are the chord tabs to the video lesson.
As you´ll see they are coloured with 9th, 11th and 13th tones which is common in the style.
Down below you´ll see the rhythm pattern to the Cmaj9 chord.
You´ll play the bass with the thumb and it´s pending between 5th and 6th string. The chord tones are played with index, middle and ring finger on the 4th, 3rd and the 2nd string. On the 4th beat it´s a hit on the strings to get a rhythmic effect. Do the same here as in the exercise example that you start practice the bass and the chords separately before you putting them together. As in the exercise you can also split the bar in two pieces and practice the 1st half bar and when you master that you´ll practice the 2nd half before you putting them together.
Here are the rhythm pattern to the Am11, Dm9 and the G13 chords.
As you´ll see the bass differs to these chords otherwise it´s the same fingering and strings in the right hand as to the Cmaj9 chord. I´ll show everything how to playing it in the video lesson to the article. Play the bars twice.
Download the pdf sheet to the easy exercise chord progression here:
Bossa Nova easy exercise.pdf
…and here´s the pdf sheet to the video lessons chord progression:
Bossa Nova chord progression.pdf
Here´s the video lesson:
Hope you´ll find this lesson useful.
Thomas Berglund is a musician that has played in many different styles through the years. He also work as a guitar teacher and have a YouTube channel with guitar lessons, releases and concert videos. To find out more you can visit his Website and YouTube channel