Bossa Nova, the Misunderstood
World Music Proof. Charles Boss Nova: The Misunderstood ” Tall and tan and young and lovely, The girl from Panned goes walking and, When she passes each one she passes goes, Ah.
‘ ” These are the flirts lyrics of, probably, one of the most famous boss nova songs sung by Frank Sinatra. The melody of the song is as smooth as the singer, the rhythm is laid back, and the lyrics are simple. Unfortunately, Frank Sinatra portrayal of this dossal Nova classic Is detrimental to the music’s Image. The Boss Nova should not lust be considered lounge music, for It is much more than that.The Bobs Nova Is a style of Latin music that has subtle complexities and deserves much more credit than is given; once people have been exposed to what these complexities are, it is plain to see that there is quite a bit to the Boss Nova. When listening to the boss nova, most people In America think that the music resembles Jazz (In a laid back way) more so than it does samba. This might have to do with the fact that we, in America, listen to Jazz much more often than we listen to samba rhythms causing our ears to be prone to noticing the Jazz aspects of the music and somewhat disregarding the mamba aspects.
And on top it all, because the boss nova resembles Jazz but In a laid back way, the tendency Is to believe that It Is laid back because the music Is not as complicated. The fact is however, that boss nova is a lot like jazz in the sense of its complicated harmonies, syncopation, swing and improvisation, but the structure Itself, the melody, off-key sound, Is very much Like the samba. So in order to understand how complex this music actually Is, we must understand the roots of the boss nova. The primary genre that Boss Nova takes after is the Latin music entitled “Samba”The Samba was first developed in RL De Jeanine, at the time the capitol of Brazil, during the beginning of the 20th century. To understand this area a little more, It Is important to note that there are three major ethnic influences to this musical genre. First, there is the music that was brought to Brazil by the slaves that were coming in from Africa. Second, there is influence from the people of Europe, more specifically, the people of Portugal.
Finally we have the music from the native Indigenous people of Brazil.These three ethnic groups are responsible for what samba music is today which is prevalent when we listen to the music itself. The African influence is very noticeable in samba. As we know, call and response and polymath played by multiple Instruments simultaneously are common characteristics in traditional African music. Another common characteristic that Is shared between the Samba and African music is the tonal quality of the singers 1 OFF main goal of the singers. Instead what is important in both traditions is involving the public, getting everyone to sing and dance (which is especially important in samba for samba is music for dance).As many of us know, Brazil (especially ROI De Jeanine) s the home of the well known celebration of Carnival.
It is at this special occasion where the Samba is really featured and shown off for the entire world to see. Many “Scales De Sambas” compete in a parade-like event where they use this music along with dance to tell stories about history, mythology, and present day situations that are part of Brazil. Recently, the Boss Nova was actually included in part of an scales De samba’s routine for Boss Nova is part of Brazier’s music history.It is in these “scales De sambas” where it is prevalent to see exactly what their music is about. The music has a fast-paced beat with a heavy emphasis on percussion. The melodic aspect comes mostly from singing and not so much the instruments that are being played. In these parades, the battery includes the people who actually play the instruments while the rest of the congregation dances and sings.
Through the parade’s duration, the dance and costumes tell a story. The Batavia has three primary instruments, the surd’s, agog, and tambourine.The surds is a membranous that acts as a bass drum and normally comes in three different sizes that vary in pitch. These instruments are the heart of the entire ensemble. The tambourine is also a membranous that is normally played with one stick while the hand that holds the drum is used to mute which helps accentuate some beats and muffle others. The agog acts as the melodic instrument even though there are only two notes that can be played. The agog is an dopamine that resembles two different sized cow bells attached together.
Samba is normally played at a fast tempo and contains many overlapping complicated rhythms accentuate the first note while playing in duple meter. Also, a lot of the time you will hear an emphasis on threes while playing in duple (you will either hear this through accents or triplets). When listening, we can hear the syncopation between the different rhythms due to the polymath of the music. One might ask how samba then relates to the Boss Nova if the music itself is fast, loud, and has an emphasis on percussion and not so much melody or lyrics.The structure of the Boss Nova is pretty much identical to that of samba except much more laid back; it is “samba broken down to its bare essentials” (The Brazilian Sound, 55). However, the structure is not the only aspect of mamba that relates to the boss nova, the melody is similar as well. The boss nova has quite a distinct Latin feel to the melody, which can only be attributed to samba.
The way in which the music sounds has a lot to do with the instruments that are played. Samba does have an enormous influence to the genre itself but the instrumentation used in boss nova, is much more similar to that of Jazz music.Though there may be the occasional tambourine, the most common instruments heard in the boss nova are the acoustic/classical guitar which is played without a pick, piano, horns, Jazz flute, etc. I believe this is a main reason why people believe that the boss nova is more related to Jazz, because the Jazz instruments create a jazzy sound where as the sound of the samba is much more raw. However, Jazz did not solely influence the instrumentation used in boss nova but also influenced the music itself. Though the structure and melody of the boss nova does primarily come really derive from Jazz.Jazz itself, is one of the first world renowned original art forms that derived from North America.
It is a genre that descended from the blues and has many features that are associated with the blues including syncopation, winging, call and response, polymath, and of course, improvisation. As most of us know, the base of this music comes from African descent which is why syncopation, polymath, call and response, and improvisation are such major components of the music. All of these characteristics are features of traditional African music. The boss nova uses quite a few of these Jazz characteristics.First, we have the complicated harmonies that are heard in the chord structure, which is usually played by the guitar or the piano. Both in Jazz and the boss nova, there is the use of the seventh and extended chords. Boss nova is similar in rhythmic aspects as well.
One of which is the syncopation between instruments and the swinging feel of the music. However, when I listen to boss nova, I hear more of a swaying feel instead of a swinging feel (where the rhythm goes side to side rather than front to back), which I attribute more to samba rather than Jazz.Nonetheless, there is definitely a Jazz influence in the way in which the instruments are played mostly because it is Jazz instruments making the music. With the comprehension of how the music is structured and played, the next important feature to understand of boss nova are the lyrics. The beginning of this paper began with three lines of the famous song “Girl from Panned” sung by the late Frank Sinatra. What people must understand however, is that boss nova was never meant to be sung vibrato with lyrics that have no real substance.Instead, this music is meant to have deep meaningful lyrics that usually express sadness and a longing for something or someone.
For example, the lyrics of “Girl of Panned” translated from the original Portuguese version, is about a girl with this golden body from Panned that is the most beautiful thing on earth and how alone and sad the singer is because the beauty is not his. This meaning is quite different then that of Sinatra version which is of a girl who everyone is an “ah” when she walks by.And though some can argue that Sinatra version does portray somewhat of a longing, the way in which the lyrics are expressed are far less poetic and deep than that of the original Portuguese version. The lyrics are also meant to be sung differently then in typical songs. I mentioned the simplistic complexity of boss nova, the way in which the lyrics are sung is one of the major aspects of this idea. Instead of singing word long with vibrato and perfect pitch, true boss nova engineers sing their songs a little off-key in a style called desalinate.This isn’t to say that they are worse singers because of it; the off key gives the lyrics a texture that allows the melody to somewhat “float” over the instrumentals.
To add to this, lyrics, though they are poetic, the words themselves are not only used for their meaning but also for the way in which they sound. The words actually add to the rhythm by creating this syncopation between the guitar and percussion. This is done by accenting certain syllables in the words, making words short, and lengthening the sounds of others. Boss nova in essence is very laid back and easy listening.However, that does not mean that this great genre is at all simple. To the contrary, it is very complex which could be held accountable by the complex musical genres that influenced the boss nova. The complicated rhythms from samba and harmonies rhythm, and on top of it all having these poetic meaningful verses.
The boss nova is not Just lounge music but is much more than that. It is a mixed breed that was made through the blending of genres and adding its own unique touch. It deserves a lot more credit than it is given. Bibliography Morale, Deed.