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.


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.


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 a full partido alto accompaniment.  

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