Bossa Nova Guitar patterns 2 – Partido Alto

How to play a samba? In this lesson I’ll go over one of the most common samba patterns, the Partido Alto. To give you somewhere to play it I’ll go over some chord voicings  and a very common progression for Bossa Nova pieces.

The Chords in two variations

All the examples in this lesson are in the key of C major. The progression that I am going to use through out this lesson is this one:

|C6/9|C6/9 |D7|D7|

|Dm7|G7 |C6/9|G7|

These 8 bars are found (though sometimes in other keys of course) in many famous pieces like “Girl From Ipanema”, “Só Danço Samba” Though in some cases the V is replaced by it’s tritone substitute (which would be Db7 in this key)

The chord voicings I’ll use are very typical for this style of music. I suspect that one of the reasons is that it is fairly easy to play the 1 – 5 bassline with them. 

The chord voicings are shown in example 1:


Since i am going to demonstrate two different variations of the groove I need to sometimes have a chord voicing where I have the top string included. The note I add is shown in the example in brackets. In the video I talk a bit about how you need to change the way you play the chord to add that note. In later examples it will become clear what we need it for. 

The Partido Alto pattern

The basic version of this groove has two layers. The bass part is, as it was in the first Bossa Nova lesson, just a 1 to 5 movement. And also here we repeat the one if necessary because we can’t go to the fifth as a bass note.

The chord pattern is a bit more complicated as it is two bars long and starts on the 4&. The absence of a 1 on the strongest beat in the period is quite typical for latin music. When you work on this groove you should probably start with the chord pattern by itself. Once that feels easy to play you can move on to the whole groove.

It is also useful to note that these Samba and Bossa Nova grooves are felt in half, so you feel only the strong beats, ie. 1 and 3. I demonstrate this in the video as well.

The basic version of the groove is shown in example 2:


The variation of the groove is splitting the chord part in two layers. The idea is that there are two phrases in the chord pattern, one only consisting of off beats and the other of beats. The variation places an accent on the last chord in each phrase. The accent is the higher part of the chord.

This is shown in example 3:


As with the bass-line you can leave out the accent if it is not possible to fit it in there.

Taking the groove through the progression!

If we take our 8 bar progression and play the groove through that we end up with example 4:


And of course we can also use the variation with the accent when playing the chords:


Play some Brazilian music!

When you play these examples (and hopefully you can extend them to a whole song) you can really feel how this music is really written for guitar. The arrangement of the bass and the chords sits very well together in the groove. I also find it really nice that one guitar part really contains the whole rhythm section of a style. That is not so often the case.

Take it further with this solo lesson

If you want to dig into some ideas for soloing over Blue Bossa then you can check out my webstore lesson:

Blue Bossa Solo 1


Should you want to study the examples I went over in the lesson you can of course also download them as a pdf here:


It is important to hear some “real” examples of these grooves then you can check out these songs:

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you want to hear.

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