Bossa Nova

Brazilian bossa nova: Vinicius de Moraes foi, além de compositor, poeta e jornalista.

What’s up, galera? Today is all about the Brazilian Bossa Nova! Do you know this type of music? If so, do you love it? Let’s dive into the history of Bossa Nova, some of its songs, famous singers and their discography!

Brazilian Bossa Nova History

Brazilian Bossa Nova was born in 1958, when João Gilberto, one of the most important composers of this movement, released the tracks Chega de Saudade/Bim Bom. But the term Bossa was used for the first time by Noel Rosa in a song called Coisas Nossas in the 30’s. Bossa Nova refers to a specific rhythm, swing, and sound that is intricately intertwined with the history of this music. This movement is all about embracing innovation and pursuing new horizons.

Besides João Gilberto, Tom Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes were essential figures to the development of this new music style. There are also other musicians and composers who joined this movement, like Dorival Caymmi and Wilson Simonal, among others.

Although some people think Bossa Nova is part of the Samba family, it has always been considered an elite style. Samba originated in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, populated predominantly by black people. Bossa Nova, on the other hand, has its roots in the South Zone of the city; especially the neighborhoods of Copacabana and Ipanema, which are predominantly affluent, white parts of the city.

Bossa Nova Composers and Singers

João Gilberto: João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira was born on June 10th, 1931 in Juazeiro, Bahia. One of the biggest stars of the Bossa Nova movement in Brazil, considered by many people to be its pioneer. He was a Brazilian composer, singer and guitarist.

Tom Jobim: One of the Bossa Nova creators. Antônio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim, known as Tom Jobim, was a born in Rio de Janeiro on January 25th, 1927 and died on December 8th, 1994 in New York. He was a Brazilian composer, pianist, maestro, singer and guitarist.

Vinícius de Moraes: One of the founders of movement along with João Gilberto and Tom Jobim, Marcus Vinícius de Moraes was born in Rio de Janeiro, on October 19th, 1913. Being a true multihyphenate, Vinícius was a Brazilian poet, composer, diplomat, writer and journalist.

Bossa Nova Discography

Bossa Nova’s discography is vast and culturally rich. We have picked out some of the best and most famous Bossa Nova music for you to explore this new world! Join us in taking a closer look and listening to these incredibly talented Bossa Nova singers.

The Girl from Ipanema

Tom Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes created one of the most (maybe the most) famous Bossa Nova songs. Garota de Ipanema or simply The Girl from Ipanema. It tells the story of a beautiful woman who captures the attention and admiration of everyone as she walks along the beaches of Ipanema, a neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. The lyrics describe her grace, charm, and captivating presence. The song reflects the romanticized image of a carefree and vibrant lifestyle associated with the beach culture of Rio de Janeiro.

Chega de Saudade

“Chega de Saudade” is one of the most famous bossa nova songs ever recorded, and it is closely associated with the Brazilian musician João Gilberto. The song was composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim, with lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes, and it was first released in 1958.

João Gilberto’s rendition of “Chega de Saudade” is particularly notable because it marked a significant departure from the traditional Brazilian music styles that preceded bossa nova. Gilberto’s delicate and intimate guitar playing, along with his understated vocal delivery, became hallmarks of the bossa nova genre. He developed a unique style of guitar playing called “violão gago” or “stuttering guitar,” characterized by syncopated rhythms and a soft touch.

Águas de Março

“Águas de Março,” also known as “Waters of March” in English, is a famous Brazilian song composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim. It was first released in 1972 as part of Jobim’s album “Matita Perê”. The song’s lyrics describe a series of everyday images and experiences, often related to the rain and the month of March. The lyrics are filled with metaphors and symbolic references, creating a poetic and introspective atmosphere.

“Águas de Março” is known for its repetitive and rhythmic structure, with short phrases and a call-and-response format between Jobim and his then-wife, Elis Regina, who recorded a popular duet version of the song. The song features Jobim’s signature bossa nova sound, blending elements of samba and jazz.

Samba de Uma Nota Só

“Samba de Uma Nota Só,” also known as “One Note Samba” in English, is a classic bossa nova song. Antonio Carlos Jobim composed it, and Newton Mendonça wrote the lyrics. It was first released in 1960 and has since become a popular standard in the bossa nova repertoire. The song’s lyrics playfully describe the limitations of a melody that consists of only one note, emphasizing the importance of rhythm and the cleverness required to create a compelling song from such simplicity.


“Corcovado” is a famous bossa nova song composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim, with lyrics by Gene Lees. It was first released in 1960 and has since become one of Jobim’s most beloved compositions. The title “Corcovado” refers to the iconic mountain located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which is home to the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer. The song’s lyrics paint a serene and romantic picture of the mountain and its surroundings, evoking a sense of tranquility and longing.

If you love Brazil and our music, come get to know the Christ with us! We have a RioLIVE! activity that will take you there, where you can learn Portuguese and experience Rio de Janeiro from above!

Now it’s your turn!

Read the sentences and mark them V for verdadeiro (true) and F for Falso (false):

  1. Bossa Nova foi criada nos anos 20. (   )
  2. Bossa Nova era muito popular nos bairros cariocas ricos. (   )
  3. João Gilberto foi o pioneiro deste movimento. (   )
  4. Tom Jobim nasceu em Salvador. (   )
  5. Vinícius de Morares nasceu em 1913. (   )

That’s it, my friends! Which was your favorite part of our Bossa Nova discography? What did you think about our Bossa Nova singers? Subscribe to A Dica do Dia for daily tips about Brazil and the Portuguese language. Don’t forget to follow our Facebook Page to check out what our school is up to!

Bye, bye!
Hugs from Rio de Janeiro!

  Click in the links below to see more related Dicas
Best Brazilian Songs
Caetano Veloso
Carmen Miranda


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