Advanced Bossa Nova Phrase 4444

Before we move on with cutting and splicing rhythmic phrases, there is one important rhythmic phrase that we need to describe. It may also be represented by a polyrhythmic composition, but this time of two identical components, same simple divisive 2/4 rhythms, but shifted in phase for one beat, as showed below:

Using Bossa Nova Guitar numbering scheme resulting phrase is described as 4444. This phrase is sometimes used in samba where it is usually performed by surdo drums, while in bossa nova guitar playing it is almost exclusively used in song transitions (bridges) as well as in openings and closings. We present it here in an opening of Desafinado by Tom Jobim - Newton Mendonça, as played by João Gilberto in the first recording of Desafinado in 1958 and included on album Chega de Saudade from 1959.


This phrase has been used mainly in early bossa nova recordings by João Gilberto including Chega de Saudase, Meditacao, Bim Bom and Lobo Bobo, while in the cut-out form the half of this phrase (44) makes a important part in formation of many other advanced advanced phrases, and as such appears in many bossa nova song from the early period. This will be covered later in this section

Video Lesson: Desafinado

This is loosely based on the first recording of Desafinado by João Gilberto from 1958. All the rhythmic phrases, the key (E major) and majority of the chords came from that recording, while some chords were replaced by those played by João Gilberto in his subsequent recordings (transposed from Eb and D that João would use later). Additionally some chords were changed, most important being F#7/-5 that replaced 7 that João used originally and 9 that he would use later on.

The most challenging aspect of playing this song is maintaining smooth legato with quick and sometimes large chord jumps throughout the song as well as the large number of different chords (40). While rhythmic phrases are relatively simple, the melody is also somewhat tricky as it involves singing diminished fifth on top of F#7 chord (that's the reason behind 7/-5 replacement).

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