Bossa nova
Overview
 
Bossa nova (ˈbɔsɐ ˈnɔvɐ; literally "New Trend") is a style of Brazilian music. Bossa nova acquired a large following in the 1960s, initially consisting of young musicians and college students. Since its birth, the bossa nova movement contributed with its style and a number of songs to the standard jazz repertoire
Jazz standard
Jazz standards are musical compositions which are an important part of the musical repertoire of jazz musicians, in that they are widely known, performed, and recorded by jazz musicians, and widely known by listeners. There is no definitive list of jazz standards, and the list of songs deemed to be...

.
In Brazil, to do something with "bossa" is to do it with particular charm and natural flair, as in an innate ability.
Encyclopedia
Bossa nova (ˈbɔsɐ ˈnɔvɐ; literally "New Trend") is a style of Brazilian music. Bossa nova acquired a large following in the 1960s, initially consisting of young musicians and college students. Since its birth, the bossa nova movement contributed with its style and a number of songs to the standard jazz repertoire
Jazz standard
Jazz standards are musical compositions which are an important part of the musical repertoire of jazz musicians, in that they are widely known, performed, and recorded by jazz musicians, and widely known by listeners. There is no definitive list of jazz standards, and the list of songs deemed to be...

.

Origin of the term "bossa nova"

In Brazil, to do something with "bossa" is to do it with particular charm and natural flair, as in an innate ability. In 1932, Noel Rosa
Noel Rosa
Noel de Medeiros Rosa was a Brazilian songwriter, singer, and guitar/banjo player. One of the greatest names in Brazilian popular music, Noel gave a new twist to samba, combining its Afro-Brazilian roots with a more urban, witty language and making it a vehicle for ironic social commentary.Noel...

 used the word in a samba, which went "O samba, a prontidão e outras bossas / São nossas coisas, são coisas nossas" ("The samba, the readiness and other bossas / Are our things, are things from us"). As yet, the exact origin of the term "bossa nova" remains uncertain. What is certain is that the term "bossa" was used to refer to any new "trend" or "fashionable wave" within the artistic beach-culture of late 1950s Rio de Janeiro. The term finally became known and widely used to refer to a new music style, a fusion of samba and jazz, when the now famous creators of "bossa nova" referred to their new style of work as "a bossa nova", as in "the new thing."

Brazilian author Ruy Castro
Ruy Castro
Ruy Castro is a Brazilian author and journalist. In 1996 he was a co-winner of the Prêmio Jabuti. He is known, in part, for his writings concerning Bossa nova.- References :...

, in his book Bossa Nova, claimed that "bossa" was already in use in the 1950s by musicians, as a word to characterize someone's knack for playing or singing idiosyncratically. He cites a claim that the term "bossa nova" might have first been used in publicity for a concert given in 1958 by the Grupo Universitário Hebraico do Brasil (University Hebrew Group of Brazil), consisting of Sylvinha Telles, Carlinhos Lyra, Nara Leão, Luizinho Eça, Roberto Menescal, et al. They were likely using the term "bossa nova" then as a generic reference to what they were doing in music at the time, which had no particular name yet. However, the term took hold as the definition of their own specific artistic creation, which became known as "bossa nova", and is often simply known as "bossa" today.

Origins and history of "bossa nova" musical style

The musical style evolved from samba but is more complex harmonically and less percussive. Bossa nova emerged primarily from the upscale beachside neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro as opposed to Samba's origins in the favelas of Rio. Certain similar elements were already evident, even influencing Western classical music like Gershwin's Cuban Overture
Cuban Overture
Cuban Overture is a symphonic overture or tone poem for orchestra composed by American composer George Gershwin. Originally titled Rumba, it was a result of a two-week holiday which Gershwin took in Havana, Cuba in February 1932...

 which has the characteristic 'Latin' clave
Clave (rhythm)
The clave rhythmic pattern is used as a tool for temporal organization in Afro-Cuban music, such as rumba, conga de comparsa, son, son montuno, mambo, salsa, Latin jazz, songo and timba. The five-stroke clave pattern represents the structural core of many Afro-Cuban rhythms...

 rhythm. The influence on bossa nova of jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 styles such as cool jazz
Cool jazz
Cool is a style of modern jazz music that arose following the Second World War. It is characterized by its relaxed tempos and lighter tone, in contrast to the bebop style that preceded it...

 is often debated by historians and fans, but a similar "cool sensibility" is apparent.

Bossa nova was developed in Brazil in the mid 1950s, with its creation being credited to artists including Johnny Alf
Johnny Alf
Alfredo Jos da Silva, popularly known as Johnny Alf, was a Brazilian musician, sometimes known as the "Father of Bossa Nova"....

, Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antônio Carlos Jobim
Antônio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim , also known as Tom Jobim , was a Brazilian songwriter, composer, arranger, singer, and pianist/guitarist. He was a primary force behind the creation of the bossa nova style, and his songs have been performed by many singers and instrumentalists within...

 and João Gilberto
João Gilberto
João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira, known as João Gilberto , is a Brazilian singer and guitarist. His seminal recordings, including many songs by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, established the new musical genre of Bossa nova in the late 1950s.-Biography:From an early age, music...

. One of the first songs was "Bim-Bom
Bim-Bom
"Bim Bom" is considered the first bossa nova song. It was composed by João Gilberto around 1956. The song wasn't recorded until July 1958 when Gilberto released it under Odeon Records along with his version of the first produced bossa nova song, "Chega de Saudade", which had been released by...

"(Gilberto). Bossa nova was made popular by Dorival Caymmi
Dorival Caymmi
Dorival Caymmi was a Brazilian singer, songwriter, actor, and painter active for more than 70 years beginning in 1933...

's "Saudade da Bahia" and Elizete Cardoso
Elizete Cardoso
Elizeth Moreira Cardoso , was a singer and actress of great renown in Brazil....

's recording of Chega de Saudade on the Canção do Amor Demais
Canção do Amor Demais
Elizete Cardoso's 1958 album Canção do Amor Demais is officially considered the first bossa nova album, mostly because it was the first time João Gilberto's guitar beat was heard. With all songs on the LP composed by Vinícius de Moraes and Antonio Carlos Jobim, it had an immense influence on the...

LP
LP album
The LP, or long-playing microgroove record, is a format for phonograph records, an analog sound storage medium. Introduced by Columbia Records in 1948, it was soon adopted as a new standard by the entire record industry...

, composed by Vinícius de Moraes
Vinicius de Moraes
Marcus Vinicius de Moraes , known as Vinicius de Moraes and nicknamed O Poetinho , was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Son of Lydia Cruz de Moraes and Clodoaldo Pereira da Silva Moraes, he was a seminal figure in contemporary Brazilian music...

 (lyrics) and Antonio Carlos Jobim (music). The song was soon after released by Gilberto.

The initial releases by Gilberto and the internationally popular 1959 film Orfeu Negro ("Black Orpheus")(film score by Luiz Bonfá
Luiz Bonfá
Luiz Floriano Bonfá was a Brazilian guitarist and composer best known for the compositions he penned for the film Black Orpheus.-Biography:...

) brought significant popularity of this musical style in Brazil and elsewhere in Latin America, which spread to North America via visiting American jazz musicians. The resulting recordings by Charlie Byrd
Charlie Byrd
Charlie Lee Byrd was a famous and versatile American guitarist born in Suffolk, Virginia. His earliest and strongest musical influence was Django Reinhardt, the famous gypsy guitarist. Byrd became the American guitarist who best understood and played Brazilian music, especially the Bossa Nova genre...

 and Stan Getz
Stan Getz
Stanley Getz was an American jazz saxophone player. Getz was known as "The Sound" because of his warm, lyrical tone, his prime influence being the wispy, mellow timbre of his idol, Lester Young. Coming to prominence in the late 1940s with Woody Herman's big band, Getz is described by critic Scott...

 cemented its popularity and led to a worldwide boom with 1963's Getz/Gilberto
Getz/Gilberto
Getz/Gilberto is a jazz bossa nova album released in 1964 by the American saxophonist Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist João Gilberto, and featuring composer and pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim. Its release created a bossa nova craze in the United States and internationally...

, numerous recordings by famous jazz performers such as Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Jane Fitzgerald , also known as the "First Lady of Song" and "Lady Ella," was an American jazz and song vocalist...

 (Ella Abraça Jobim
Ella Abraça Jobim
Ella Abraça Jobim or Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Antonio Carlos Jobim Songbook is a 1981 studio album by Ella Fitzgerald, devoted to the songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim....

) and Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was an American singer and actor.Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became an unprecedentedly successful solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, after being signed to Columbia Records in 1943. Being the idol of the...

 (Francis Albert Sinatra & Antônio Carlos Jobim
Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim
Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim is a 1967 studio album by Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim.The tracks were arranged and conducted by Claus Ogerman and his orchestra....

). Since that time, the bossa nova style maintains a lasting influence in world music for several decades and even up to the present.

The first bossa nova single to achieve international popularity was perhaps the most successful of all time, the 1964 Getz/Gilberto recording "The Girl From Ipanema
The Girl from Ipanema
"Garota de Ipanema" is a well-known bossa nova song, a worldwide hit in the mid-1960s that won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965. It was written in 1962, with music by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes. English lyrics were written later by Norman Gimbel.The...

", edited to include only the singing of Astrud Gilberto
Astrud Gilberto
Astrud Gilberto is a Brazilian samba and bossa nova singer. She is well known for the Grammy Award-winning song "The Girl from Ipanema".-Biography:...

, Gilberto's then wife. The resulting fad was not unlike the disco
Disco
Disco is a genre of dance music. Disco acts charted high during the mid-1970s, and the genre's popularity peaked during the late 1970s. It had its roots in clubs that catered to African American, gay, psychedelic, and other communities in New York City and Philadelphia during the late 1960s and...

 craze of the 1970s. The genre would withstand substantial "watering down" by popular artists throughout the next four decades.

An early influence on bossa nova was the song "Dans mon île" by French singer Henri Salvador
Henri Salvador
Henri Salvador was a French Caribbean singer.-Biography:Salvador was born in Cayenne, French Guiana. His father, Clovis, and his mother, Antonine Paterne, daughter of a native Indian from the Caribbean, were both from Guadeloupe, French West Indies...

, featured in the 1957 Italian movie Europa di notte
Italian films of 1959
A list of films produced in Italy in 1959 :-External links:* at the Internet Movie Database...

by Alessandro Blasetti
Alessandro Blasetti
Alessandro Blasetti was an Italian film director who influenced Italian neorealism with the film Quattro passi fra le nuvole...

; the song was distributed in Brazil and covered later by Brazilian artists Eumir Deodato
Eumir Deodato
Eumir Deodato is a Brazilian pianist, composer, record producer and arranger, primarily based in the jazz realm but who historically has been known for eclectic melding of big band and combo jazz with varied elements of rock/pop, R&B/funk, Brazilian/Latin, and symphonic or orchestral music.Mainly,...

 (Los Danseros en Bolero - 1964) and Caetano Veloso
Caetano Veloso
Caetano Emanuel Viana Teles Veloso , better known as Caetano Veloso, is a Brazilian composer, singer, guitarist, writer, and political activist. Veloso first became known for his participation in the Brazilian musical movement Tropicalismo which encompassed theatre, poetry and music in the 1960s,...

 (Outras Palavras - 1981). In 2005, Henri Salvador was awarded the Brazilian Order of Cultural Merit, which he received from singer and Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil
Gilberto Gil
Gilberto Passos Gil Moreira , better known as Gilberto Gil or , is a Brazilian singer, guitarist, and songwriter, known for both his musical innovation and political commitment...

, in the presence of President Lula
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva , known popularly as Lula, served as the 35th President of Brazil from 2003 to 2010.A founding member of the Workers' Party , he ran for President three times unsuccessfully, first in the 1989 election. Lula achieved victory in the 2002 election, and was inaugurated as...

 for his influence on Brazilian culture.

Instruments

Bossa nova is most commonly performed on the nylon-string classical guitar
Classical guitar
The classical guitar is a 6-stringed plucked string instrument from the family of instruments called chordophones...

, played with the fingers rather than with a pick
Guitar pick
A guitar pick is a plectrum used for guitars. A pick is generally made of one uniform material; examples include plastic, nylon, rubber, felt, tortoiseshell, wood, metal, glass, and stone...

. Its purest form could be considered unaccompanied guitar with vocals, as exemplified by João Gilberto
João Gilberto
João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira, known as João Gilberto , is a Brazilian singer and guitarist. His seminal recordings, including many songs by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, established the new musical genre of Bossa nova in the late 1950s.-Biography:From an early age, music...

. Even in larger, jazz-like arrangements for groups, there is almost always a guitar that plays the underlying rhythm. Gilberto basically took one of the several rhythmic layers from a samba ensemble, specifically the tamborim
Tamborim
A tamborim is a small, round Brazilian frame drum of Portuguese and African origin.The frame is 6" in width and may be made of metal, plastic, or wood. The head is typically made of nylon and is normally very tightly tuned in order to ensure a high, sharp timbre and a minimum of sustain...

, and applied it to the picking hand.

Though not as prominent as the guitar, the piano
Piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

 is another important instrument of bossa nova; Jobim
Antônio Carlos Jobim
Antônio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim , also known as Tom Jobim , was a Brazilian songwriter, composer, arranger, singer, and pianist/guitarist. He was a primary force behind the creation of the bossa nova style, and his songs have been performed by many singers and instrumentalists within...

 wrote for the piano and performed on it for most of his own recordings. The piano has also served as a stylistic bridge between bossa nova and jazz, enabling a great deal of cross-pollination between the two. In addition to the piano, the electronic organ
Electronic organ
An electronic organ is an electronic keyboard instrument which was derived from the harmonium, pipe organ and theatre organ. Originally, it was designed to imitate the sound of pipe organs, theatre organs, band sounds, or orchestral sounds....

 is also prominently featured on many classic bossa nova tracks, such as "(So Nice) Summer Samba
Summer Samba
Summer Samba is a 1966 bossa nova song by Brazilian composer Marcos Valle, with English-language lyrics by Norman Gimbel; the original Portuguese lyrics came from Paulo Sérgio Valle, brother to the composer.The song was first popularized by the Walter Wanderley Trio in 1966 — the album Rain...

" by Walter Wanderly
Walter Wanderly
Walter Wanderley , pronounced "VON-DER-LAY", was an organist and pianist, born in Recife, Brazil and best known for his lounge and bossa nova music....

.

Drums
Drum kit
A drum kit is a collection of drums, cymbals and often other percussion instruments, such as cowbells, wood blocks, triangles, chimes, or tambourines, arranged for convenient playing by a single person ....

 and other percussion
Percussion instrument
A percussion instrument is any object which produces a sound when hit with an implement or when it is shaken, rubbed, scraped, or otherwise acted upon in a way that sets the object into vibration...

 are generally not considered essential bossa nova instruments. Nonetheless, there is a distinctive bossa nova drumming style like that of Helcio Milito
Helcio Milito
Hélcio Pascoal Milito is a Brazilian jazz samba/bossa nova drummer who has worked with some of the biggest names in bossa nova, including musicians like Luiz Bonfá, João Gilberto, Astrud Gilberto and Luíz Eça. He has also helped make film scores for several Brazilian movies. He has been known to...

 and Milton Banana
Milton Banana
Milton Banana was a bossa nova jazz drummer. A self-taught musician, he is best known for his collaboration with João Gilberto and Stan Getz and for his work with the trio he founded....

, characterized by continuous eighths on the high-hat (mimicking the samba Pandeiro
Pandeiro
The pandeiro is a type of hand frame drum.There are two important distinctions between a pandeiro and the common tambourine. The tension of the head on the pandeiro can be tuned, allowing the player a choice of high and low notes...

) and tapping of the rim or "rim clicks" in a clave pattern. The bass drum usually plays on "1-&3-&1".

Lush orchestral accompaniment is often associated with bossa nova's North American image as "lounge
Lounge music
Lounge music is a retrospective description of music popular in the 1950s and 1960s. It is a type of mood music meant to evoke in the listeners the feeling of being in a place — a jungle, an island paradise, outer space, et cetera — other than where they are listening to it...

" music. It is present in many of Jobim's own recordings, and in those of Astrud Gilberto
Astrud Gilberto
Astrud Gilberto is a Brazilian samba and bossa nova singer. She is well known for the Grammy Award-winning song "The Girl from Ipanema".-Biography:...

. Dusty Springfield
Dusty Springfield
Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'BrienSources use both Isabel and Isobel as the spelling of her second name. OBE , known professionally as Dusty Springfield and dubbed The White Queen of Soul, was a British pop singer whose career extended from the late 1950s to the 1990s...

 would both feature and epitomize this element on her Philips
Philips Records
Philips Records is a record label that was founded by Dutch electronics company Philips. It was started by "Philips Phonographische Industrie" in 1950. Recordings were made with popular artists of various nationalities and also with classical artists from Germany, France and Holland. Philips also...

 recording of "The Look of Love
The Look of Love (1967 song)
"The Look of Love" is a popular song composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and sung by Dusty Springfield, which appeared in the 1967 spoof James Bond film Casino Royale.-Songwriters:...

", a song written by Burt Bacharach
Burt Bacharach
Burt F. Bacharach is an American pianist, composer and music producer. He is known for his popular hit songs and compositions from the mid-1950s through the 1980s, with lyrics written by Hal David. Many of their hits were produced specifically for, and performed by, Dionne Warwick...

 and Hal David
Hal David
Harold Lane "Hal" David is an American lyricist. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York. David is best known for his collaborations with composer Burt Bacharach.-Career:...

, and one of the most respected American pop interpretations of the bossa nova. (That version is not the Phil Ramone
Phil Ramone
Phil Ramone is a South-African violinist, composer, recording engineer, and record producer.-Biography:As a young child in South Africa, Ramone was a musical prodigy, beginning to play the violin at age three and performing for Queen Elizabeth II at age ten...

 version Springfield first recorded.) The unique aural texture of bossa strings, when used, is an important secondary characteristic of the genre. Bossa nova is at heart a folk
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

 genre, and not all bossa nova records have strings
String instrument
A string instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, they are called chordophones...

.

Structure

Bossa nova has at its core a rhythm
Rhythm
Rhythm may be generally defined as a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions." This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time may be applied to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or...

 based on samba
Samba
Samba is a Brazilian dance and musical genre originating in Bahia and with its roots in Brazil and Africa via the West African slave trade and African religious traditions. It is recognized around the world as a symbol of Brazil and the Brazilian Carnival...

. Samba combines the rhythmic patterns and feel originating in former African slave communities. Samba's emphasis on the second beat
Beat (music)
The beat is the basic unit of time in music, the pulse of the mensural level . In popular use, the beat can refer to a variety of related concepts including: tempo, meter, rhythm and groove...

 carries through to bossa nova (to the degree that it is often notated in 2/4 time). However, unlike samba, bossa nova doesn't have dance steps to accompany it. 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
Syncopation
In music, syncopation includes a variety of rhythms which are in some way unexpected in that they deviate from the strict succession of regularly spaced strong and weak but also powerful beats in a meter . These include a stress on a normally unstressed beat or a rest where one would normally be...

 into the second measure. Overall, the rhythm has a "swaying" feel rather than the "swinging" feel of jazz. As bossa nova composer Carlos Lyra
Carlos Lyra
Carlos Lyra is a Brazilian singer and composer of numerous bossa nova and Música Popular Brasileira classics. He was born on May 11, 1939. Along with Roberto Menescal, he was a primary figure of the younger generation of bossa nova musicians who closely followed the inception of the style by João...

 describes it in his song "Influência do Jazz", the samba rhythm moves "side to side" while jazz moves "front to back". Bossa nova was also influenced by the blues
Blues
Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre that originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads...

, but because the most famous bossa novas lack the 12-bar structure characteristic of classic blues, as well as the statement, repetition and rhyming resolution of lyrics typical of the genre, bossa nova's affinity with the blues often passes unnoticed.

In terms of harmonic
Harmony
In music, harmony is the use of simultaneous pitches , or chords. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction and chord progressions and the principles of connection that govern them. Harmony is often said to refer to the "vertical" aspect of music, as distinguished from melodic...

 structure, bossa nova has a great deal in common with jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

, in its sophisticated use of seventh
Seventh chord
A seventh chord is a chord consisting of a triad plus a note forming an interval of a seventh above the chord's root. When not otherwise specified, a "seventh chord" usually means a major triad with an added minor seventh...

 and extended chords. The first bossa nova song, "Chega de Saudade", borrowed some structural elements from choro
Choro
Choro , traditionally called chorinho , is a Brazilian popular music instrumental style. Its origins are in 19th century Rio de Janeiro. In spite of the name, the style often has a fast and happy rhythm, characterized by virtuosity, improvisation, subtile modulations and full of syncopation and...

; 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.

Aside from the guitar style, João Gilberto's other innovation was the projection of the singing voice. Prior to bossa nova, Brazilian singers employed brassy, almost operatic styles. Now, the characteristic nasal vocal production of bossa nova is a peculiar trait of the caboclo
Caboclo
A caboclo or caboco is a person of a mixed Brazilian Indian and European ancestry. In Brazil, a caboclo is a specific type of mestiço as is the mulato, a person of a mixed Afro-Brazilian and European ancestry....

 folk tradition of north-eastern Brazil. Gilberto managed to dramatically reduce that to a subtle near-whisper.

In the early bossa nova recordings, in terms of lyrical themes and length of songs (typically two to four minutes), bossa nova's was very much a popular-music style. However, its song structure often differs from European and North American popular 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, while 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.

The lyrical themes found in bossa nova are women, love, longing, and the best of youth.

There are two types of bossa nova: the early bossa nova (beginning in the late 1950s), and the bossa nova after the coup d'état of 1964. The musical lyrics of the late 1950s depicted the easy life of the middle- to upper-class Brazilians, though the majority of the population was in the working class. However, in conjunction with political developments of the early 1960s (especially the 1964 coup d'état), bossa nova's style became more "angry", with lyrics becoming more thematically charged, referring explicitly to people's struggles and liberty.

Modern developments

From the mid-nineties, various other European artists reached out to bossa nova for inspiration, incorporating electronic music and creating styles such as BossaElectrica and TecnoBossa. New singers like Bebel Gilberto
Bebel Gilberto
Bebel Gilberto is a Brazilian popular singer often associated with bossa nova. She is the daughter of João Gilberto and singer Miúcha. Her uncle is singer/composer Chico Buarque...

, daughter of bossa nova co-creator João Gilberto and singer Miúcha, and new European bands like Nouvelle Vague
Nouvelle Vague (band)
Nouvelle Vague is a French musical collective led by musicians Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux. Their name is a play on words, meaning "new wave" in French, and "bossa nova" in Portuguese...

 and Koop
Koop
-People:*C. Everett Koop, the Surgeon General of the United States from 1982-1989*Wanda Koop, a Canadian painter*Booba, a French rapper also known as B2O and Élie Yaffa-Culture and entertainment:...

, used modern approaches to further interpret this soothing style of music. Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Joshua Sondheim is an American composer and lyricist for stage and film. He is the winner of an Academy Award, multiple Tony Awards including the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, multiple Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Laurence Olivier Award...

 used a bossa nova rhythm to connote a "nightclub" feeling in his song "The Ladies Who Lunch" from the album Company
Company (musical)
Company is a musical with a book by George Furth and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The original production was nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards and won six....

(1970).

Notable Bossa Nova artists

  • Laurindo Almeida
    Laurindo Almeida
    Laurindo Almeida was a Brazilian virtuoso guitaristand composer who made many recordings of enduring impact in classical, jazz and Latin genres...

  • Badi Assad
    Badi Assad
    Badi Assad is a Brazilian singer, songwriter and guitarist in the jazz and worldbeat genres.She was born in the state of São Paulo, but grew up in Rio de Janeiro until she was twelve...

  • Luiz Bonfá
    Luiz Bonfá
    Luiz Floriano Bonfá was a Brazilian guitarist and composer best known for the compositions he penned for the film Black Orpheus.-Biography:...

  • João Bosco
    João Bosco
    João Bosco de Freitas Mucci, better known as João Bosco is a noted Brazilian singer-songwriter with a distinctive style as a guitarist...

  • Chico Buarque
    Chico Buarque
    Francisco Buarque de Hollanda , popularly known as Chico Buarque , is a singer, guitarist, composer, dramatist, writer and poet...

  • Charlie Byrd
    Charlie Byrd
    Charlie Lee Byrd was a famous and versatile American guitarist born in Suffolk, Virginia. His earliest and strongest musical influence was Django Reinhardt, the famous gypsy guitarist. Byrd became the American guitarist who best understood and played Brazilian music, especially the Bossa Nova genre...

  • Oscar Castro-Neves
    Oscar Castro-Neves
    Oscar Castro-Neves is a Brazilian guitarist, arranger, and composer who is considered a founding figure in Bossa nova. He was born as one of triplets and formed a band with his brothers in his youth. At 16 he had a national hit with Chora Tua Tristeza. Many of the early Bossa Nova musicians began...

  • Gal Costa
    Gal Costa
    Gal Costa is a Brazilian singer of popular music.-Early life:...

  • Eliane Elias
    Eliane Elias
    Eliane Elias is a Brazilian jazz pianist, arranger, vocalist and songwriter.-Biography:...

  • Quarteto em Cy
    Quarteto em Cy
    Quarteto em Cy is a Brazilian girl group originally composed of four sisters hailing from Ibirataia, a town located in the Brazilian state of Bahia: Cybele, Cylene, Cynara and Cyva - their real first names. They started performing in 1959, appearing on local television in that year...

  • Gilberto Gil
    Gilberto Gil
    Gilberto Passos Gil Moreira , better known as Gilberto Gil or , is a Brazilian singer, guitarist, and songwriter, known for both his musical innovation and political commitment...

     (early years)
  • Bebel Gilberto
    Bebel Gilberto
    Bebel Gilberto is a Brazilian popular singer often associated with bossa nova. She is the daughter of João Gilberto and singer Miúcha. Her uncle is singer/composer Chico Buarque...

  • João Gilberto
    João Gilberto
    João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira, known as João Gilberto , is a Brazilian singer and guitarist. His seminal recordings, including many songs by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, established the new musical genre of Bossa nova in the late 1950s.-Biography:From an early age, music...

  • Astrud Gilberto
    Astrud Gilberto
    Astrud Gilberto is a Brazilian samba and bossa nova singer. She is well known for the Grammy Award-winning song "The Girl from Ipanema".-Biography:...

  • Antonio Carlos Jobim
    Antônio Carlos Jobim
    Antônio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim , also known as Tom Jobim , was a Brazilian songwriter, composer, arranger, singer, and pianist/guitarist. He was a primary force behind the creation of the bossa nova style, and his songs have been performed by many singers and instrumentalists within...

  • Edu Lobo
    Edu Lobo
    Eduardo de Góes "Edu" Lobo is a Brazilian bossa nova singer, guitarist, and composer. He achieved fame in the 1960s as part of the bossa nova movement...

  • Nara Leão
    Nara Leão
    Nara Lofego Leão was a Brazilian bossa nova and MPB singer and occasional actress. Her husband was Carlos Diegues, director and writer of Bye Bye Brasil....

  • Carlos Lyra
    Carlos Lyra
    Carlos Lyra is a Brazilian singer and composer of numerous bossa nova and Música Popular Brasileira classics. He was born on May 11, 1939. Along with Roberto Menescal, he was a primary figure of the younger generation of bossa nova musicians who closely followed the inception of the style by João...

  • Maysa Matarazzo
    Maysa Matarazzo
    Maysa Figueira Monjardim , better known as Maysa Matarazzo or simply Maysa, daughter of Alcibíades Guaraná Monjardim and wife Inah Figueira and paternal granddaughter of Manuel Silvino Monjardim and wife Ursulina Guaraná, was a singer, composer, and actress from Brazil...

  • Newton Mendonça
    Newton Mendonça
    Newton Ferreira de Mendonça was a musician, composer, and lyricist. He began as a pianist in 1950. In 1953 he started working with Antonio Carlos Jobim, something for which he is best known. Mendonça went on to co-compose music and lyrics for Desafinado, Meditação, and Samba de uma nota só...

  • Roberto Menescal
    Roberto Menescal
    Roberto Menescal is a Brazilian jazz guitarist important to the founding of bossa nova. In many of his songs there are references to the sea. He is also known for work with Carlos Lyra. Menescal has performed in a variety of Latin music mediums, including Brazilian pop, Música Popular Brasileira,...

  • Sérgio Mendes
    Sergio Mendes
    Sérgio Santos Mendes is a Brazilian musician. He has released over thirty-five albums, and plays bossa nova heavily crossed with jazz and funk....

  • Vinicius de Moraes
    Vinicius de Moraes
    Marcus Vinicius de Moraes , known as Vinicius de Moraes and nicknamed O Poetinho , was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Son of Lydia Cruz de Moraes and Clodoaldo Pereira da Silva Moraes, he was a seminal figure in contemporary Brazilian music...

  • Paula Morelenbaum
    Paula Morelenbaum
    Regina Paula Martins Morelenbaum is a Brazilian singer, born in Rio de Janeiro. She and her husband Jaques Morelenbaum were in the band that toured with Antonio Carlos Jobim from 1984–1994....

  • Paulinho Nogueira
    Paulinho Nogueira
    Paulinho Nogueira , was a Brazilian guitarist, composer and singer. He was an eclectic composer and his influences ranging from Bossa Nova to Bach....

  • Hermeto Pascoal
    Hermeto Pascoal
    Hermeto Pascoal is a Brazilian composer and multi-instrumentalist. He was born in Lagoa da Canoa, Alagoas, Brazil. Pascoal is a greatly beloved musical figure in the history of Brazilian music, known for his abilities at orchestration and improvisation, as well as being a record producer and...

  • Rosa Passos
    Rosa Passos
    Rosa Passos is a Brazilian singer and guitarist born in Bahia.Passos began playing piano at age thirteen, but after listening to Dorival Caymmi and João Gilberto she abandoned the instrument to become a singer. In the late 1960s, Passos began appearing on television and at music festivals...

  • Agustín Pereyra Lucena
  • Baden Powell de Aquino
    Baden Powell de Aquino
    Baden Powell de Aquino usually known simply as Baden Powell, was one of the greatest Brazilian guitarists. He explored the instrument to its utmost limits, playing it in a distinctive, unique manner, incorporating virtuoso classical techniques together with popular harmony and swing...

  • Elis Regina
    Elis Regina
    Elis Regina Carvalho Costa, known simply as Elis Regina was an important singer of Brazilian popular music. She became nationally renowned in 1965, after singing Arrastão in the first edition of TV Excelsior festival song contest, and soon joined O Fino da Bossa, a television program on TV Record...

  • Elza Soares
    Elza Soares
    Elza Soares is a Brazilian samba singer. She was married to Brazilian football player Garrincha.Born and raised in a favela in Rio de Janeiro, Soares took part in a singing contest presented by the renowned Brazilian musician Ary Barroso, and received the highest marks. In the late 1950s, Soares...

  • Sylvia Telles
    Sylvia Telles
    Sylvia Telles was a Brazilian jazz samba and bossa nova singer of the 1950s and 1960s. Perhaps one of the most highly spoken of singers of the time, Telles preceded the advent of bossa nova, and then began covering songs by such influential composers as Antonio Carlos Jobim, and worked with others...

  • Toquinho
    Toquinho
    Antônio Pecci Filho , better known as Toquinho , is a Brazilian singer and guitarist. He is well-known for his collaborations, as composer and performer, with Vinicius de Moraes.-Childhood and musical studies:...

     (Antônio Pecci Filho)
  • Marcos Valle
    Marcos Valle
    Marcos Kostenbader Valle is a Brazilian singer, songwriter and record producer. He has produced works in many musical styles, including bossa nova, samba, incidental music and fusions of American/European rock, soul and dance music with Brazilian styles.-Biography:Valle's talent was evident from...

  • Caetano Veloso
    Caetano Veloso
    Caetano Emanuel Viana Teles Veloso , better known as Caetano Veloso, is a Brazilian composer, singer, guitarist, writer, and political activist. Veloso first became known for his participation in the Brazilian musical movement Tropicalismo which encompassed theatre, poetry and music in the 1960s,...

  • Bola Sete
    Bola Sete
    Bola Sete was a Brazilian guitarist. Sete played jazz with Vince Guaraldi as well as with Dizzy Gillespie. His song "Bettina" was featured on the "Tribe Vibes" breakbeat compilation, as it had been sampled by the musical group A Tribe Called Quest.Born in Rio de Janeiro, Bola Sete's name means...

  • Zimbo Trio
    Zimbo Trio
    The Zimbo Trio is a Brazilian instrumental ensemble, established in 1964 in São Paulo, and originally comprising Amilton Godoy , Luís Chaves and Rubinho Barsotti...

  • Wanda Sá
    Wanda Sá
    Wanda Sá is a Brazilian bossa nova singer and guitarist, active from 1964 to the present day.Her first guitar teacher, when she was 13, was Roberto Menescal. Later, she worked with Sérgio Mendes in his group Brasil '65, and also with Marcos Valle and Kátya Chamma...


Bossa nova in pop music outside of Brazil

Over the years the genre of bossa nova has reached beyond its Brazilian and jazz roots, influencing popular music and other popular rhythms.
  • American entertainer Pat Boone
    Pat Boone
    Charles Eugene "Pat" Boone is an American singer, actor and writer who has been a successful pop singer in the United States during the 1950s and early 1960s. He covered black artists' songs and sold more copies than his black counterparts...

     scored a hit in 1962 with "Quando, Quando, Quando
    Quando, Quando, Quando
    "Quando, Quando, Quando" is an Italian pop song from 1962, in the bossa nova style, with music written by Tony Renis and lyrics by Alberto Testa....

    ", with music by Tony Renis and lyrics by Alberto Testa.
  • American Jazz musician Dave Brubeck
    Dave Brubeck
    David Warren "Dave" Brubeck is an American jazz pianist. He has written a number of jazz standards, including "In Your Own Sweet Way" and "The Duke". Brubeck's style ranges from refined to bombastic, reflecting his mother's attempts at classical training and his improvisational skills...

     released the album Bossa Nova U.S.A. in 1962, mixing Jazz with Bossa Nova.
  • In 1963, Elvis Presley
    Elvis Presley
    Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King"....

     released the hit song "Bossa Nova Baby
    Bossa Nova Baby
    "Bossa Nova Baby" is a song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and recorded on May 27, 1963, in RCA Studio B, in Nashville, Tennessee by Elvis Presley as part of the soundtrack of the 1963 motion picture Fun in Acapulco....

    ". The song's only link with bossa nova, however, is the name, as there is nothing in the musical composition of the song that resembles bossa nova.
  • Also in 1963, Eydie Gorme
    Eydie Gormé
    Eydie Gormé is an American singer, specializing, with her husband, Steve Lawrence, in traditional pop music, in the form of ballads and breezy swing. She has earned numerous awards, including the Grammy and the Emmy...

     had a Top 10 hit with the song "Blame it on the Bossa Nova
    Blame It on the Bossa Nova
    "Blame it on the Bossa Nova" is the title of a song written by Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann which was a 1963 hit single for Eydie Gormé, reaching #7 on the Hot 100 in Billboard in March 1963.-Background:...

    ".
  • The Beatles
    The Beatles
    The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

    ' "And I Love Her
    And I Love Her
    "And I Love Her" is a song recorded by The Beatles, written mainly by Paul McCartney . The fifth track on their third album, A Hard Day's Night, it was released 20 July 1964 with "If I Fell" as a single by Capitol Records in the United States, reaching #12 in Billboard.The Beatles performed "And I...

    " (1964) and the Kinks
    The Kinks
    The Kinks were an English rock band formed in Muswell Hill, North London, by brothers Ray and Dave Davies in 1964. Categorised in the United States as a British Invasion band, The Kinks are recognised as one of the most important and influential rock acts of the era. Their music was influenced by a...

    ' "No Return
    Something Else by the Kinks
    Something Else by The Kinks, often referred to as just Something Else, is the fifth UK studio album by English rock group The Kinks, released in September 1967. The album marks the final involvement of American producer Shel Talmy in The Kinks' 1960s studio recordings; henceforth Ray Davies would...

    " (1967) are both in the style of bossa nova.
  • In 1967, Frank Sinatra
    Frank Sinatra
    Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was an American singer and actor.Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became an unprecedentedly successful solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, after being signed to Columbia Records in 1943. Being the idol of the...

     performed several songs with Antônio Carlos Jobim.
  • Also in 1967, The Doors
    The Doors
    The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, California, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore, and guitarist Robby Krieger...

     released the hit song "Break on Through (To the Other Side)
    Break on Through (To the Other Side)
    "Break on Through " is a song by The Doors from their debut album, The Doors. It was the first single released by the band and was unsuccessful compared to later hits, reaching only #126 in the United States...

    ", which featured a prominent bossa nova style drum beat by drummer John Densmore
    John Densmore
    John Paul Densmore is an American musician and songwriter. He is best known as the drummer of the rock group The Doors.-Early life and The Doors:Born in Los Angeles, Densmore attended Santa Monica City College and Cal...

    .
  • Robert Palmer
    Robert Palmer
    Robert Palmer may refer to:*Robert Palmer , English singer-songwriter; known for "Bad Case of Loving You ", "Addicted to Love" and "Simply Irresistible"...

    's 1988 album, Heavy Nova, fused bossa nova rhythms with hard rock and blue-eyed soul
    Blue-eyed soul
    Blue-eyed soul is a media term that was used to describe rhythm and blues and soul music performed by white artists, with a strong pop music influence. The term was first used in the mid-1960s to describe white artists who performed soul and R&B that was similar to the music of the Motown and...

    .
  • In 1990, alternative-rock band Pixies released an album "Bossanova
    Bossanova
    Bossanova is the third album by the American alternative rock band Pixies, released in August 1990 on the English independent record label 4AD in the United Kingdom and by Elektra Records in the United States. All of Bossanovas original material was written by the band's frontman Black Francis; it...

    ".
  • In 1995, George Michael
    George Michael
    George Michael is a British musician, singer, songwriter and record producer who rose to fame in the 1980s when he formed the pop duo Wham! with his school friend, Andrew Ridgeley...

     released "Jesus To A Child
    Jesus to a Child
    "Jesus to a Child" is a song by British musician George Michael. The song peaked at number 1 in Britain and Australia, and at number 2 in the mainland European charts. The song has also become George Michael's highest direct entry in the American charts. The song is one of George Michael's...

    ", a song influenced by the bossa nova style. The song was dedicated to his former lover, Brazilian Anselmo Feleppa (who died in 1993).
  • In 2006, The Black Eyed Peas
    The Black Eyed Peas
    The Black Eyed Peas are an American pop group , formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1995. The group includes rappers will.i.am, apl.de.ap, and Taboo, and singer Fergie. Since the release of their third album Elephunk in 2003, the group has sold an estimated 56 million records worldwide...

     recorded the song "Mas Que Nada
    Mas Que Nada
    -Song information:In 2006, Mendes re-recorded the song with The Black Eyed Peas and additional vocals by Mendes' wife, Gracinha Leporace; a version that is included on his album Timeless. In Brazil, the song is well-known for being the theme song for the local television channel Globo's Estrelas....

    " on Sérgio Mendes' album Timeless
    Timeless (Sergio Mendes album)
    Timeless is a 2006 album by Sérgio Mendes. It features neo soul and alternative hip hop guest artists, most prominently will.i.am, who also produced most of the songs. It was released February 14, 2006 by Concord Records and will.i.am music group...

    .
  • In 2006, Taiwanese singer Jay Chou
    Jay Chou
    Jay Chou is a Taiwanese musician, singer-songwriter, music and film producer, actor and director who has won the World Music Award four times. In 1998 he was discovered in a talent contest where he displayed his piano and song-writing skills. Over the next two years, he was hired to compose for...

     recorded the Mandarin-language song "迷迭香" ("Rosemary")
  • Before her solo career, singer Lani Hall
    Lani Hall
    Lani Hall is an American singer and the wife of Herb Alpert.-Music career:Her first public appearances occurred in Old Town Chicago in early 1966. At one of those performances, she was heard by Brazilian Bossa Nova pianist/bandleader Sérgio Mendes, who happened to be on tour in Chicago...

     sang in the band Brasil '66.
  • José José
    José José
    José Rómulo Sosa Ortiz , known by his artistic name José José, is a Mexican singer.Referred in the entertainment world as "El Príncipe de la Canción" , José José is best known for his romantic ballads and renowned for his vocals...

     started his musical career playing the bass and double bass in a bossa nova trio named "Los PEG".
  • Shakira
    Shakira
    Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll , known professionally as Shakira , is a Colombian singer who emerged in the music scene of Colombia and Latin America in the early 1990s...

     was strongly influenced by bossa nova in her 2005 song "Obtener un sí".

Further reading

  • Castro, Ruy (transl. by Lysa Salsbury). Bossa Nova: The Story of the Brazilian Music That Seduced the World. 2000. 1st English language edition. A Capella Books, an imprint of Chicago Review Press, Inc. ISBN 1-55652-409-9 First published in Brasil by Companhia das Letras. 1990.
  • McGowan, Chris and Pessanha, Ricardo. The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova and the Popular Music of Brazil. 1998. 2nd edition. Temple University Press. ISBN 1-56639-545-3
  • Perrone, Charles A. Masters of Contemporary Brazilian Song: MPB 1965–1985. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1989.
  • Mei, Giancarlo. Canto Latino: Origine, Evoluzione e Protagonisti della Musica Popolare del Brasile. 2004. Stampa Alternativa-Nuovi Equilibri. Preface by Sergio Bardotti; afterword by Milton Nascimento. (in Italian)

External links

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