Rock Drumming System

Drum Beats – The bossa nova

Weather you hear it in elevator music, wedding music, brazilian music, or ballroom dance music, the Bossa Nova groove is more popular than you think. This beat became popular in the Latin communities, such as brazil and other afro-cuban nations, and has been around for many years. It has a distinct sound to it, one that every drummer must understand. Being able to groove to this style of music is very rewarding. You will notice right away that it is unlike any rock or pop beat you have ever played.  So how do you play the Bossa Nova? It actually isn’t that hard if you take your time.

The Bossa Nova shares some common relations to the samba. In fact, the Bossa Nova and Samba are both very similar; the only real difference is the speed in which you play them at – the Samba being the fast of the two. The life of these beats comes from the bass drum.  The unique loop of the bass drum creates a feel that gives life to these songs. This should be the first thing you learn when you are tackling the Bossa Nova, as once you get this, the rest falls into place quite easily.

Remember to start slow with this beat, as the Bossa Nova is not supposed to be a fast groove anyways. The bass drum is played in patterns of 2. These are 8th note beats, and are best played heel down to get a softer sound. The Bossa Nova groove is about feeling, not about loud sounds, so make sure you are not pounding your bass drum too hard. Try this exercise:

Once you have the feet going, try to add your hi hat or ride cymbal overtop. Simply play 16th note beats.

Now this is where the beat will get a little tricky for some of you. If you haven’t already read up on the clave rhythm, do so now. The clave is a fundamental pattern in all Latin and Afro-Cuban music, so take a few minutes and read up on the different clave patterns. For this beat, we are obviously going to incorporate the Bossa Nova clave. You can play this on any drum voice, but it is most effective on your snare rim. Use the cross sticking method on your snare to get the best sound for your rim shot. Over top of the bossa nova pattern, play the 2/3 Bossa clave. It is a good idea to play this with the 3/2 clave as well.


This is the most common Bossa beat. You will hear this in a lot of different music. Practice this beat with dynamics, and at a slow tempo. If you play this pattern too fast ,you will eventually run in to the Samba pattern, which we will go over in another section! Have fun playing this, as there is soo much you can do with it!

By: Dave Atkinson

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