How To Play Brazilian Guitar – Part 1

I started getting into Brazilian music in college.  Like a million other jazz students across the country I was playing really bad versions of Blue Bossa, Black Orpheus, and Girl From Impanema.

But I was hooked!  It was different from than any guitar playing I’d heard.

I started listening the greats –  Tom Jobim, Elise Regina, Joao Gilberto and others.  As well contemporary artists like Joyce, Caetano Veloso, and Maria Rita.

Over the years, these styles have influenced me greatly and have become a huge part of my personal sound.

This is Part 1 a series on playing great Brazilian guitar.  It’s meant for any guitarist interested in learning the basics of the Brazilian style.  My goal for you is that you’ll have the tools to play confidently in the style in minimal time.

Here’s an appetizer of what we’re going to dive into – Desafinado played by Joao Gilberto – One of the most famous Brazilian vocalists and guitarists.

In this post we’re going to tackle the basics of Bossa Nova rhythm guitar.  Let’s get started!

“West Coast Blues: Live Recording + Clinic on Chord Subs”

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Okay, if you’re a music nerd like me and love talking about ii V substitutions, you’re going to love this.  If not, I’d recommend just hitting the play button and enjoying some great music!  Links below.  Music nerds… keep reading.

Full length – about 10 min. long.

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a 1:30 edit.

This tune is like the holy grail of ii-V substitutions.  I remember when I first heard it and looked at the sheet music I was totally confused.  I thought, “How can you take ii-V and just move them down in half steps a bunch of times and have it sound amazing!?”

Substitutions.  That’s how.  And lots of them. (more…)

Being a Beginner Again

I was recently reminded of a this great quote.


“The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again — less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
- Steve Jobs


I’ve been blessed to have some modest success working in music.  I’ve had some very cool opportunities and have accomplished many of my goals.  I’m of course not on Jobs’ level, but I definitely feel the pressure and heaviness of always wanting to project the image of success among my friends and colleagues – even when it’s not there as much as I’d like.  Maybe you can relate to that too.