Bossa Nova

With our South American roots, it’s no surprise that we’re into all types of art here at Fazenda.

Music plays a big part of our culture back home, which is why this week we’re talking about a fantastic style of music from Brazil, called Bossa Nova.

What is Bossa Nova?

Bossa Nova was first developed in the 1950s in Brazil, with it seeing a steady increase in popularity across the 50s and 60s. It’s now one of the best-known Brazilian music styles in the world, with lots of modern genres taking influence from Bossa Nova sounds.

João Gilberto, one of the pioneers of the genre (Image credit - NPRmusic)

João Gilberto, one of the pioneers of the genre (Image credit – NPRmusic)

Literally translating to ‘new trend’ or ‘new wave’, Bossa Nova was a new style of music with a jazz and samba fusion that the world had never seen before. Syncopated rhythms mixed with smooth melodies in such a mesmerizing way that the style spread like wildfire across South America.

In the 1960s, Americans in the music industry began to notice this unique style of music. Realising the potential behind this genre, some artists started recording their own Bossa Nova songs for distribution across the US. The style was an almost instant hit, with some tracks even winning awards, such as “No More Blues” by João Gilberto, which won a Grammy Hall of Fame.

Instruments

The acoustic guitar is often the most predominant instrument in a Bossa Nova track. Even with very complex tracks, there is usually a guitar that provides the underlying rhythm, giving the song some structure. Drums and percussion instruments often play alongside this guitar, providing a whole host of interesting sounds. One of the more interesting instruments that is sometimes used is called a berimbau, which translates to ‘musical bow’, however this has become less common as time has passed.

The intriguing berimbau (Image credit - Capoeira Connection)

The intriguing berimbau (Image credit – Capoeira Connection)

Famous Classics

João Gilberto 

Easily the biggest name in the Bossa Nova genre, João has sung or helped produce some of the most famous Bossa Nova tracks ever, with many considered to be works of art. Whether he’s singing or has taken part in the production of the track, you know it’s going to be good.

João was still performing at 86 years old (Image credit - Folha de S.Paulo)

João was still performing at 86 years old (Image credit – Folha de S.Paulo)

“The Girl from Ipanema”

Perhaps the most famous Bossa Nova song ever produced, it’s thought that this was the song to truly kick the genre into the mainstream. It captured the essence of what Bossa Nova is about, mixing a laid-back, yet complex rhythm with intriguing vocals. You will have probably heard this and others when visiting us, Fazendeiros.

It’s a name that is close to the heart of any Bossa Nova lover, and you’ve more than likely heard the song before.

“No More Blues” 

This classic song performed by João Gilberto is often recognised as the first Bossa Nova track ever recorded. The Portuguese title is “Chega de Saudade”, with ‘saudade’ meaning ‘intense longing’ and ‘chega’ meaning ‘no more’.

The song has a strong emotional tone, and João has actually been known to perform the song live with his daughter.

“The Most Beautiful Thing” 

A very gentle song that’s considered beautiful by many, this track has been performed by many artists, but no-one delivered it with quite the subtlety and emotion of João Gilberto.

It’s about a woman he finds so beautiful that he compares her to a flower, singing “You are more beautiful than the flower, I wish, the flower of spring, had all this aroma, of beauty that is love.”

What do you think about Bossa Nova, Fazendeiros? Do you have any recommendations that you think are worth listening to? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or over on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.