Advanced Bossa Nova Phrase 7777

The final example of a single beat phrase contains all 16th notes. As a complete phrase it is sometimes used in samba canção, but not that much in bossa nova. However, the part of this phrase appears sometimes as a building block of other advanced bossa nova rhythmic phrases discussed later in this section, therefore we describe it here for the sake of completeness.


Using Bossa Nova Guitar numbering scheme the resulting phrase is described as 7777. This rhythmic phrase may be composed by combining the different rhythms played by different instruments, percussions and vocals in samba and bossa nova, so it does have a polyrhythmic origin.

As the matter of fact in many samba and bossa nova songs when we combine all the notes played by various instruments and voices to a composite rhythm, very often we get all 16th notes. There is a remark from Gerry Mulligan from the famous video with Jobim where they play Samba de Uma Nota So in which he says that 'the rhythm section is playing all 8th notes' (he was probably confused by the fact that sometimes bossa nova and samba rhythms were transcribed in 4/4 instead of 2/4 time signature, therefore he mentioned 8th instead of 16th notes, leaving Jobim confused for few seconds as well). On another occasion Jobim compared samba to an ocean where all the space is occupied by beats until the sound (of beats) becomes continuous, just like the sea.

That 'all 16th notes' paradigm becomes especially important when singing in bossa nova is involved. We have already seen how singers often filled in missing beats, that is beats that were not played by guitar accompaniment. We will also show how filling in those beats with vocals plays an important role in some of the most popular bossa nova songs.

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