Bossa Nova songs often use complex harmony sequences and a variety of seventh chords with special extension tones. As appealing as it is to play the most famous songs straight away, it makes sense to start with simple songs. “Easy” here refers to the number and difficulty of the chords as well as the length of the form and the complexity of the rhythm. Particular attention should be paid to being able to play the songs rhythmically and fluently. Despite all the beautiful chords, Bossa Nova is also and above all a genre shaped by the Brazilian rhythm tradition.
Easy Bossa Nova Songs
Samba da Bênção
Vinicius de Moraes
Vinicius de Moraes is known as the “poet” of bossa nova but he has also composed several pieces, mostly in collaboration with Tom Jobim or Baden Powell. Samba da Bênção has an ostinato melody that can be accompanied throughout with three simple chords.
Menina Moca is not an “original” bossa nova song and is more reminiscent of samba due to its melody and faster tempo. Stan Getz & Laurindo Almeida included the song in their repertoire and helped it gain greater popularity. It can be accompanied with basic chords seventh chords.
Só danço samba
“I only dance samba” and yet it’s bossa nova! One of the few Tom Jobim songs on this list – his pieces often contain more complex chord progressions. Here he uses the simple structure of a typical jazz standard. In the key of D major there is a beautiful guitar accompaniment with simple but very typical Bossa Nova chords.
Na tonga da mironga do kabuletê
Vinicius de Moraes
The meaning of this strange title is not entirely clear, it is probably a protest song against the military dictatorship in Brazil at the time. Vinicius certainly also chose the title because of its poetic sound. The song is – similar to Samba da Bencao – simple and, above all, rhythmically structured.
The Berimbau is a traditional Brazilian instrument with one string. Baden Powell paid homage to the sound in this piece. The A part consists of simple Dm7 and Am7 chords, in the chorus the chord progression becomes a little more complex.
Manha de Carnaval
The guitarist Luiz Bonfa has written an absolute hit with Manha de Carnaval. To this day it is one of the most popular pieces for entering the world of bossa nova. The standard also enjoys great popularity among jazz musicians.
Aquarela do Brasil (Brazil)
Ary Barroso was not only one of Brazil’s greatest composers in the first half of the 20th century. He was also a trained lawyer, poet and football commentator. What a career!
Samba DE ORFEU
Another piece by Luiz Bonfa – like “Manha de Carnaval” composed for the soundtrack of the film Orfeu Negro . On the fantastic live recording Solo in Rio 1959, Bonfa plays a virtuoso version of the song. But it can also be accompanied with a few simple chords and impresses with its contemplative melody.
Canto De OSSANHA
Canto de Ossanha is the second piece by virtuoso guitar artist Baden Powell on this list. Although he was able to improvise incredibly complex guitar arrangements, his compositions are often characterized by basic structures. The special, mysterious atmosphere that Baden Powell creates in the first part is extraordinary and gives the song its special charisma.
Estrada Do Sol
The Street of the Sun leads to a simple guitar accompaniment – almost! Although this introspective song by Tom Jobim has a simple structure and mostly very easy chords, there is a short passage at the end that is more difficult to play. Still recommended!
Here you can find the entire playlist of bossa nova songs for beginners: