Music Theory

Bossa nova style and Latin rhythms : piano techniques

Latin music is so much known all over the world.

The word means a fusion of Latin-American rhythms with European harmonies. Bossa, salsa, merengue, samba, tango, reggae are just some of the famous Latin styles which dancers, musicians and listeners love so much.
I here introduce some bass styles in Bossa nova at the piano. I have not deepened Latin rhythms particularly; however, I have noticed they usually have a dotted modulation that is a frequent use of dotted notes. Moreover, harmonic instrument such as piano and guitar are essentially based on syncopated accompaniments.

Bossa nova bass pattern on the piano

Harmonically bossa nova bass lines are simple, above all on the fundamental and fifth based. In the picture, it is a C7 or C Maj7 chord represented.
Also for these rhythms, I remember you to emphasize all the upbeats with accents.

Example | piano left hand | bossa nova

Here is a variation of the previous example in a Dm7 – G7 chord progression.
Practice playing famous excerpts such as “How Insensitive” or “The Girl of Ipanema” but also the pop ones you may play in this style, using the bass accompaniment indicated for left hand.

Other bass-Latin scheme with piano

At last, I end by other schematic bass-Latin examples on a C7 or CMaj7 or CMin7.
This last example is on Dm7- G7 chords.
As soon you begin to know these bass techniques perfectly, make some improvisations: play the bass with these schemes and improvise with right hand, playing correct notes as indicated in the other pages.