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Bossa Nova

Since about 1940 Brazilian musicians are using the word "bossa". It means something like "a new way of doing". In the late fifties of the twentieth century the adjective "nova" was added to the substantive "bossa" and served to indicate the popular city music that was made by the young people of the middle class in Rio de Janeiro. The "new" thing ("nova" means "new") was that the exciting elements were stripped of the samba by combining it with elements from cool jazz, the new jazz music from the United States. The first apostles of the bossa nova like Carlos Lyra, Robert Menescal, and Ronaldo Bôscoli embraced and introduced the soft guitar sound from Barney Kessel in the bossa nova. On the DVD "Coisa Mais Linda - História e Casos da Bossa Nova" Roberto Menescal gives another explanation for the intimate and soft character of bossa nova. One day someone asked him in an interview: "Why bossa nova has this thing so gentle, so intimate, so soft?". This is his answer: "I was thinking a little bit about it and discovered after years and years that it was because of construction of the apartments in Copacabana, those kind of buildings that began to arrive in Copacabana with 18 or 20 apartments per floor and 5cm thin walls. During daytime we worked to earn money. At night we went to someones house and began to play about 10pm, and the people downstairs started knocking: "Hey, this noise, I want to sleep!" We started singing: "Peça..." and diminished our volume: "Peça...". And in the end with almost speaking voice: "Peça, não faça, me abraça...". And we got used to play and sing that soft. Until today you see João Gilberto in his show doing everything quietly and everyone is paying attention. Nara said it this way: "If someone is speaking during your show, do not try to raise your volume but play even softer so that your audience is going to be quiet with you thus creating a nice atmosphere.""

Gradually the bossa nova movement grew until it started dominating the Brazilian music scene with musicians like pianist António Carlos Jobim, composer/poet Vinícius de Moraes, guitarists João Gilberto, Baden Powell, and Luiz Bonfá, and singer Elizeth Cardoso. The 1959 album "Chega de saudade (No more blues)" from João Gilberto marked the beginning of the bossa nova revolution in Brazil. The album became a big success and musicians abroad took notice. A concert in New York´s Carnegie Hall in 1962 with the Brazilians Gilberto, Jobim, and Bonfá, and the American saxophonist Stan Getz, and guitarist Charlie Byrd, introducing the bossa nova in the United States. The enormous success of the hit "Girl from Ipanema", sung by Astrud Gilberto and composed by Jobim, settled the bossa nova definitively as an important part of the music from the beginning of the sixties in as well the United States as in Europe. Also the worldwide success of the film "Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus)" from 1959 contributed to the growing interest in Brazilian music. Between 1961 and 1963 more than one hundred bossa nova albums were released in North America. With that the bossa nova and the samba are the most important export articles from Brazilian music.

Most important bossa nova composers are: António Carlos Jobim, Vinícius de Moraes, Carlos Lyra, Roberto Menescal, João Donato, Marcos Valle, Paulo Sérgio Valle, and Baden Powell.

Some bossa nova songs you should listen to
Title Musician Composer Album Year
O Amor em paz Eliane Elias António Carlos Jobim - Vinícius de Moraes Eliane Elias sings Jobim 1998
Chega de saudade João Gilberto António Carlos Jobim - Vinícius de Moraes João voz e violão 2000
Samba do avião Ivan Lins António Carlos Jobim Jobiniando 2001

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