Partido Alto is originally the name for a special style of samba music. As with the clave, the term is now used as a common description for a specific rhythm.

Characteristic of the Partido Alto is the alternation between several beats that fall on  or between the beats. The rhythm commonly referred to as Partido Alto is in two bars and, like the clave rhythms, can also be started in the second bar  (reversed):

Partido Alto
Partido Alto "reversed"

As always, practice clapping the rhythm first and tapping your foot along with the basic beat. Pick a simple chord and pluck the partido alto rhythm with your fingers while your thumb plays the quarter notes. Choose a second chord and practice changing chords within the pattern as well.

The Master of Partido Alto - JOAO BOSCO

Watch the great guitarist, composer and singer Joao Bosco perform the Partido Alto in his piece “Incompatibilidade de gênios”. He plays the reversed rhythm:

In addition to the Partido Alto, which is played very quickly, Joao Bosco uses another typical trick. He varies his picking pattern of the treble strings, simulating the sound of an agogo bell, a typical samba rhythm instrument.

You can follow the notation of the whole song on Soundslice. It is a wonderful chord sequence and by slowing down the interactive sheet music you can try to make this incredible groove your own! 

You can find the PDF to “Incompatibilidade de gênios” in the shop:

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Example #1: Blue Bossa

The following rhythm has found a very common use as a standard accompaniment pattern for Latin-Jazz Tunes:

This example shows the typical structure of a partido alto rhythm: a two-bar rhythmic pattern. The first and last two beats fall on the basic pulse, the rest of the accents are set between the beats. This results in four beats each on stressed and unstressed beats. If this pattern is transferred to the guitar and the bass tones are added in half notes, as with the clave rhythms, the result is the following accompaniment pattern:

Such patterns and their variations are often used to accompany jazz pieces with a bossa/latin flavor. Check out the section on the Latin/jazz standard Blue Bossa to practice the full partido alto accompaniment.  

Example #2: Triste

This Chord progression t is taken right off Tom Jobims recording of his song “Triste” on his 1967 Album “Wave”:

The two chords here are an AMajor7(9) and an Aminor7(9).

It the same rhythm as in example #1, but this time notated in sixteenth notes in a 2/4 time signature. The peculiarity lies with the type of voicings: the combination of fretted notes at the 6th (or 5th fret) and the open B- and E-string creates a beautiful dissonance that enriches the otherwise simple chord types.


Now get your guitar and create something with these wonderful rhythms!  

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