Advanced Bossa Nova Rhythmic Phrases

In the previous section we described basic bossa nova phrase as a polyrhythmic combination of two separate rhythmic components, one additive in the form of 2(3) + 2(3) + .... and the other simple divisive 2/4 rhythm, both having length of exactly 2 measures (16 beats). Although this model is usable for most common bossa nova rhythmic phrases there is only a limited number of possible 2 and 3 beat group combinations. In the summary of the previous section we showed all of those phrases and it can be seen that together with reversing and last beat syncopation the maximum number of such phrases is just 28. While this looks like a large number of different rhythms in fact much more rhythmic phrases are in use in bossa nova.

In this section we will propose two additional schemes for building a rhythmic phrase. The first one takes a sequence of consecutive single beats (16th notes) as a building block and for the second model we split rhythmic phrases to 2 or more parts and combine different parts from different basic or advanced phrases to create a new phrase. Those phrases are mainly used in song transitions, openings and closings while sometimes they may also be used as one of the main rhythmic phrases.

Yet before we move on with advanced phrases we must take into consideration one important, but very often overlooked detail that can greatly influence the rhythmic feel of the rhythmic phrase and that is musical articulation. Depending on the type of articulation being used, the same phrase may feel more or less syncopated, more on this in the next few lessons.

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