Third Basic Bossa Nova Phrase

Next we will show phrases created by polyrythmic composition of rhythms that start with a ternary beat group. The first may be created by composition of 3 + 3 + 2 and 2/4 in the first measure while second measure contains basic phrase (2 + 3 + 3).


It was used in A Felicidade by Jobim/de Moraes as recorded on Orfeu Negro soundtrack by Agostinho dos Santos with guitar accompaniment played by Roberto Menescal.


This phrase is also used in O Nosso Amor from the same soundtrack. It appears in Samba de Uma Nota So recorded by João Gilberto on O Amor, o Sorriso e a Flor in 1960, but is much more used in it's syncopated variation as will be shown later. Note that here Agostinho dos Santos sings melody exclusively on weak beats.

Third Basic Bossa Nova Phrase Variation

Similar to what we had in second basic phrase, by switching second and third beat groups in chord voice we get composite rhythm of 3 + 2 + 3 and 2/4 rhythms, while the second measure remains unchanged. This results in syncopated beat 6 of first measure and this variation feels a bit more syncopated.


We'll show this rhythmic phrase in the same recording of A Felicidade:


Again the melody goes on weak beats only. This is very impotrtant aspect of this song, almost the whole melody goes on weak beats. Syncopation in melody was often used by Jobim, most notably in Chega de Saudade, Samba de Avião and Retrato em Branco e Preto.

Video Lesson: A Felicidade

Like in previous examples, here staccato is used as well. In this song however, there is also noticeable muting of the bass string. As we showed before, this emphasises rhythmic part of the sound and can be used whenever we wish the bass string sounds more like a bass drum.

The variation of the phrase (4212) is similar to the first basic bossa nova phrase (1212), differing only in one beat, as in here the beat 4 is played instead of beat 3 that is played in the first basic phrase. Those two phrases can often be used interchangeably, which is something that can be heard in this song, as well as in many other bossa nova songs from the early phase.

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