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Live Music at Brazilian Restaurant Rodizio

The Bossa Nova
Bossa nova is at its core a rhythm based on samba. Samba combines the rhythmic patterns and feel originating in former African slave communities with elements of European march music. Samba‘s emphasis on the first beat carries through to bossa nova (to the degree that it is often notated in 2/4 time). When played on the guitar, in a simple one-bar pattern the thumb plays the bass notes on 1 and 2, while the fingers pluck the chords in unison on the two eighth notes of beat one, followed by the second sixteenth note of beat two. Two-measure patterns usually contain a syncopation into the second measure. Overall, the rhythm has a swaying rather than swinging (as in jazz) feel. As bossa nova composer Carlos Lyra describes it in his song "Influência do Jazz", the samba rhythm moves "side to side" while jazz moves "front to back". In terms of harmonic structure, bossa nova has a great deal in common with jazz, in its sophisticated use of seventh and extended chords. The first bossa nova song, "Chega de Saudade," borrowed some structural elements from choro; however, later compositions rarely followed this form. Jobim often used challenging, almost dissonant melody lines, the best-known being in the tunes "Desafinado" ("Off-Key"). Often the melody goes to the altered note in the chord. For example, if the chord is DM7#11, the note sung in the melody line there would be G#, or the sharp 11. In the early bossa nova recordings, in terms of lyrical themes and length of songs (typically two to four minutes), bossa nova is very much a "popular music" style. However, its song structure often differs from European and North American rock-based music‘s standard format of two verses followed by a bridge, and a closing verse; bossa nova songs frequently have no more than two lyrical verses, and many lack a bridge. Some of João Gilberto‘s earliest recordings were less than two minutes long, and some had a single lyrical verse that was simply repeated.

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