Bossa Nova is, like Rock and Blues, a music that was invented on guitar. It has also become an essential part of Jazz and Pop repertoire in terms of must know grooves. In this lesson I am going to show you a one bar Bossa Nova pattern and some jazz chords so that you use this groove to play through the song Blue Bossa.
Bossa Nova lessons
I have been getting requests for a Bossa Nova tutorial for the last 2 years. I decided to make it a small series because I think each groove deserves a lesson in itself. When you work on this it is better if you take them one at a time. That way you get really familiar with the feel and how to phrase them.
The song Blue Bossa is not actually a Brazilian Bossa Nova tune, but since it is a very common tune and with a short form it is a good vehicle to practice this groove.
As you can see in the video I chose to play my Ibanez AS2630 and not my Nylon string electric. This is because I usually use that guitar when I am playing this type of music and mostly because it is a much better instrument…
Chords for Bossa Novas
Let’s first have a quick look at the chords we need. For this groove we are playing chords with the root in the bass and the chord voicings are fairly common. If you want to check out more voicings that work well for Bossa Nova rhythms like the one I am covering here you can check out my lesson How To Play Jazz Chords
As I mostly do I have not included the extensions in the name of the chord since you can just as easily chose other voicings with other extensions.
One of the nice things about Bossa Nova patterns on guitar is that they are mostly two layers. In that way the guitar is in fact laying down the whole groove and nothing else is needed to accompany the melody.
The first part of the groove is the bass movement. In Samba’s and Bossa Nova’s the bass movement is usually a root and fifth bassline as shown in example 2.
For some reason I have very often come across tutorials where there is an upbeat for all bass notes. I almost never hear that when I am listening to records so I think it is something that was added along the way by mistake.
The 2nd line of example 2 is the bassline and then the one bar rhythm for the chord on top of it. When you play you want to have it sound like 2 layers as well.
At first just play the bass and then try to add the chords on top, and try to get comfortable playing the groove with one chord. In the example I am using the Cm7 chord from the song.
Blue Bossa with the groove
When using the groove on the song it is always possible to use a 5th as a lower note for the bass except when the root is on the 6th string. This is the case on the G7 and the Ab7. In both cases I just repeat the root as a bass note. In my experience the higher 5th usually does not sound that good and is quite tricky to get in there. The only other chord where you need to take care with the bass note is the Dm7(b5). Here you need to play the lower Ab (which is what I have written out) and if you don’t like the sound of this you can always choose to play the root(D) twice.
How to practice the groove
One way to get better at playing this music is to use a drumloop like you can find in DrumGenius. This is what I am playing over in the intro to the video. It also contains a loop that is exactly corresponding to the groove that I went over in this lesson.
As you can tell this groove is a slow or medium groove so when you come across faster songs. There are other slightly more complicated grooves that I will try to cover in later lessons. I always found this groove a very good place to start and a solid foundation to explore this style further.
If you want to dig into some ideas for soloing over Blue Bossa then you can check out my webstore lesson:
If you want to hear some “real” examples of this groove then you can check out these two songs:
If you want to study the examples I went over in the lesson you can of course also download them as a pdf here:
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