Ghost Notes

Continuing with staccato style from previous lesson, sometimes we use a special type of staccato where a note is played in such a way that the sound is more percussive than obvious in it's pitch. The notes articulated in such a way are called ghost notes. In bossa nova those notes are typically played on the last beat of the measure in the anticipation of a chord change. Everything is performed as if the chord change is about to happen on that last beat except that the strings are not pressed against the fretboard, but just lightly touched, as if the intention is to mute them. Left hand fingers should be positioned at the same location over the fretboard as if the unmuted next chord is to be played. The pressure needs to be firm enough to prevent the vibrations of the open strings, but still light enough so they don't even come close to the frets in order to prevent the fret buzz.


There are many bossa nova songs where this style of playing was used. Outra Vez was chosen as it was the first bossa nova recording where it was used by João Gilberto.

Video Lesson: Outra Vez

The transcription for this lesson was based on the several recordings by João Gilberto, the first one with vocals by Elizeth Cardoso and released on Canção de Amor Demais, the second one where João sang and that was released on album O Amor, o Sorriso e a Flor and finally on the version that João Gilberto performed live in the famous Carnegie Hall concert in November 1962. Finally some minor changes were made based on Jobim's own instrumental recording from his album A Certain Mr. Jobim.

Please note that the first studio recording was played in B, while the second was either played in C or it was pitched up one semitone in the post-production. Since the live version was also played in B we have chosen B for this lesson. Jobim's instrumental version was played in D.

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