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Bossa Nova

Bossa Nova

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The Style
Bossa Nova can be danced single or as a couple. The step sequences are danced usually in the rectangle in a soft pace, that permits sideways movements and hip sways. In solo figures, the one arm is put on the belly while the other arm carries out circling movements on hip height.

The Rhythm
Bossa Nova is danced in 4/4-time in the rhythm slow-quick-quick.

Past and Present

At the end of the fifties Bossa Nova was born in Rio de Janeiro by white kids of the middle-class. The term "Bossa" in the Brazilian slang of the cities has the meaning of a "special ability", whereas the Portuguese translation of Bossa Nova is "New Wave". Critics dragged the music to pieces - being no Samba but Jazz. In general public Bossa Nova was ignored. Its first big success outside Brazil quickened the alteration process in its home land.

Samba and Bossa Nova - as many other South American styles these sensual twins of Brazilian music can look back on a colourful and widespread past. In the late fifties the eccentric string freak João Gilberto added a cool and lively gimmick on his guitar to Samba. A long time ago the formerly native rhythm of the favelas had been a victim of commercialization, and the fresh air called Bossa Nova came right in time. The difference between Bossa Nova and the existing music styles was that the elements of a song as melody and rhythm are of equal rank. Even singing, performed in a typical nasal tone, was integrated discreet into music. The guitar often had a prime function for the rhythm as well as for the melody. Gilberto developed his own performance style, the so called violao gago ("stammering guitar").

At the same time the film "Orfeu Negro", with compositions of Tom Jobim, infected by the new rhythm, grew very popular. Finally the hip swing of the "Girl from Ipanema" founded the world-wide triumphant progress of the new beat from the Copacabana some years later. From that time on the percussive Samba from the favela mountains and the elegant Bossa Nova from the beaches underneath are flirting in the Brazilian pop music in many variations and blend their rhythm to irresistible mixtures. Today both twins are spread as independent music styles all over the world.