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Bossa Nova Latin Piano Lesson, if Bruno Mars was born in Brazil

This is the next in the series of using Latin Rhythms to change the style of songs. This week we look at the Bossa Nova. This is an excellent thing to try for any pianist – it challenges both your rhythmic ability and your right-left hand coordination.

Latin Piano Lesson – Rhythm and Coordination

Firstly, set up the bass using the root and fifth of the chord. Use dotted rhythms (dotted quarter notes/crotchets and eight note/quaver) playing on the 1st, 4th-5th, 8th back to 1st quavers/eighth notes.

Son Clave in Latin Piano Lesson Patterns

Secondly, add the Son Clave pattern. The Claves are the two wooden sticks that are hit together that from an important part of Latin percussion tracks. In this case I use a 3+2 clave pattern, meaning that there are 3 notes in the first bar and 2 in the next. The pattern is syncopated and falls on the 1st, 4th, 7th quavers/eighth notes in the first bar and the 3rd and 6ths in the second bar, although some teachers place it on the 3rd and 5th in the second bar.

Melody in Latin Piano Lessons

Then, pick a melody that is all eighth notes (quavers) or lots of long notes and create a Bossa Nova cover. I chose Marry You by Bruno Mars because this has exactly those rhythmic characteristics.

Advanced Latin Piano Lessons

The Son Clave is common to most Latin music. However, for a truly authentic Bossa Nova, you have to consider its African origins for the RH rhythm. The rhythm between the 2 hands forms “Du, Du, Syncope, Syncope, Du, Du-day” using a fusion of Gordon and Kodaly style rhythmic syllable words. The RH falls on quavers 1, 3, 5, 6, 8 in the first bar and 2, 4 plus 7 in the second bar.

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