THE BOSSA NOVA
Bossa Nova is a Samba that is played in a somewhat minimal or essential style, often very soft and soﬀused, without any special vocal emphasis or tremolo, on a medium fast or even slow rithm in some songs - it rarely overcomes 80 beats per minute - but with a dogged stride, which is usually due to the characteristic guitar playing style, mainly attributed to Joao Gilberto, as well as to the rithmic ﬁgure played by the drummer with his left hand on the border of the snare drum. The so called batida - this became the standard denomination of the guitar playing style of Joao Gilberto and his followers - is a particular manner to touch the guitar strings with the right hand: without arpeggio, but alternating the use of thumb with the simultaneous ﬁngerpicking of the remaing strings, typically from the 2nd to the 4th, a guitar playing style already in use by some brazilian traditional popular musician such as Dorival Caymmi.
The novelty stands in the new way to combine rithm and harmony. As a matter of fact, the accompaniment is realized by a continuos line of descending bass semitones, in such a manner to produce the sensation that the guitar rithm is running back the beat time. The appearance of Bossa Nova was in coincidence with the birth of the so called protest or opposition songs of the ”on the road movement” in the early sixties, years of political unrest even in Brazil, that led to the coup d’etat or putsch in 1964. However, at variance with the traditional popular music, which was mainly related to low standing economical poverty, Bossa Nova was born within a bourgeois class and environment, thanks to musicians and lyrics-writers of great culture and strong technical background.
The oﬃcial date of birth of Bossa Nova is generally put into coincidence with the coming out of the record Can¸c˜ao do amor demais of the singer Elizete Cardoso, music written by Antonio Carlos Jobim and lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes, released in April 1958. This album contained Chega de saudade, the symbol-track of Bossa Nova, in which guitar was played by Jo˜ao Gilberto with his renowned style. The success of Chega de saudade, interpreted by Elizete Cardoso and even more in the further version by Jo˜ao Gilberto himself, was resounding. This song is universally considered as the benchmark of the Bossa Nova style, especially in view of the famous batida, that everybody in Brazil attempted since then to imitate.
The international fame for the Bossa Nova was reached in the ﬁrst half of the sixties, mainly thanks to Tom Jobim and Jo˜ao Gilberto. Later on, the great jazz saxophonist Stan Getz imported the new brazilian rithm into his 1962 record Samba Jazz (with the guitarist Charlie Byrd) and in the album Getz/Gilberto, with the great masters Tom Jobim and Jo˜ao Gilberto, in both cases reaching an enormous success. Getz/Gilberto, released in March 1964, is considered the record that popularized Bossa Nova worldwide and was one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time.