Basic Musical Components
All Brazilian music styles have composite rhythmic structure. It is produced by having several and sometimes many percussion instruments playing different rhythms simultaneously, creating what is known as a polyrhythm or a composite rhythm. Performing such a rhythm on a guitar typically involves extracting the rhythms played by different parts of the percussion ensemble, that might include either the loudest or most prominent parts or even a subset of the beats played by a certain part.
Such a procedure typically results in creation of various types of rhythmic figures. In this section we will analyse and classify those figures and propose simple numbering scheme to ensure their easy memorization.
In our discussion we make no distinction between samba and bossa nova music. As bossa nova appeared as a new way of playing samba music in 1950's, both styles share the same origin. Many older samba songs have been recorded in bossa nova style using the same rhythmic phrases and as a consequence we may find the same rhythmic figures in both music styles.
Before we go further we need to define some basic terms that we will use in the analysis in order to avoid ambiguities and possible misunderstanding. In case you are familiar with music terminology you may wish to skip some lessons or go directly to other sections.