Creating Custom Bossa Nova Phrases

Using the knowledge we obtained from the analysis of existing bossa nova rhythmic phrases we may attempt to create new rhythmic phrases that were not used before, or at least not in the most popular bossa nova songs that we analysed. The construction of those is straightforward, we just need to decide whether it would be a 2 or 4 ternary group phrase and what effect we would like to create.

Custom 2 Ternary Beat Group Phrase

Suppose for example that we wanted to create highly syncopated phrase based on 2 ternary group model. From what we saw earlier we know that in order to maximize syncopation effect we just need to maximize the distance between two ternary groups. That's easily accomplished by placing the first ternary group at the beginning and the second at the end of the phrase. That would result in a phrase containing additive rhythm component 3 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 3.

Such a phrase would be named 4332 using our system. This phrase in fact appeared in few songs, for example in O Pato on album O Amor, o Sorriso e a Flor and in Você e Eu (as 4333) on album João Gilberto, but that limited number of appearances cannot justify it's categorization as a basic bossa nova phrase, therefore we just mention it here as an example of building rhythmic phrases.

Exercise: Create 4 Ternary Group Phrase

In the previous lesson we showed 3 different rhythmic phrases having 4 ternary groups where each of the two measures contains exactly 2 ternary and 1 binary group. It can be showed that there are exactly 3 more possible combinations of the same kind (not counting reverse variants as separate phrases). For exercise try to create one of those phrases by yourself. Let it be the one with different beat group arrangements in first and second measure.

Other combinations are of course possible, more of this will be covered in Advanced section where we will analyse phrases that cannot be described as a simple superposition of additive and divisive rhythms.

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