Blue Bossa Guitar Chord Study

The Easy Guide to Jazz Guitar Chords


One of the most common non-swing rhythms that jazz guitarists explore when learning how to comp over tunes is the Bossa Nova groove. While many of us learn to play Brazilian Jazz tunes in our practice routine, learning how to pay an authentic Bossa or Samba groove on the guitar can be tricky, especially for those players who didn’t grow up in Brazil.

To help you get a handle on how to play an authentic and cool-sounding groove over any Brazilian Jazz tune you are learning, we’ve put together a fun to play and engaging chord study featuring a popular Samba/Bossa groove that you can get under your fingers and apply to your playing today.

What’s in This Blue Bossa Chord Study

You can see in the Blue Bossa chord study below that there is text below many sections of the tune to indicate a certain chord shape or Bossa technique being used at that part of the tune.

To help you understand these concepts further, here are short background descriptions for each of the important chord and Bossa concepts covered in the chord study below so that you can understand the building blocks of this exercise.


m9 Chords – Whereas jazz guitarists prefer m7 chords for minor sounds, it is very common in Brazilian music to use m9 chords instead. These m9 chords, 1-b3-5-b7-9, have a bit of a “softer” sound than m7 chords, and help create the smooth sounding quality that we associate with Bossa music.

7b13 Chords – Here, there is a bit of voice leading at play where you are moving from the E note on top of the Dm9 chord for example, to the Eb on top of the G7b13 chord, to the D on top of the Cmaj9 chord. This type of half-step movement on top of chords is commonly found in the playing of many Brazilian guitarists.

Maj9 Chords – Again, this is a softer version of the Maj7 chords that many jazz guitarists prefer to use for their Imaj7 and IVmaj7 chord voicings.

m11b5 Chords – Here, you are replacing the 3rd of Dm7b5 with the 11th in a commonly used alternate shape for a m7b5 chord. When adding this chord into your playing, you can play the m11b5 to the m7b5, or vice-versa, in order to create some melodic movement on top of the chord changes.

Bossa Bassline – During the chord study you will notice that the thumb plays bass notes on 1 and 3 of each bar, mostly the root note but sometimes the 5th or a chromatic note can be added in to create movement as well. When playing these bass notes, you should accent the 3rd beat in order to create a more authentic Brazilian feel with this chord study.

Anticipated Chords – You will notice that between bars one and two, and the first and second bars of each two-bar group, the chord in the second bar is played on the & of 4 in the first bar. This anticipated chord movement is common in Brazilian music, and it will be one of the hardest parts of learning this chord study, or any Brazilian tune on the guitar. So, take your time, isolate these moments and work them on their own before going back and trying to work the study as a whole.

Syncopated Accents – As was the case with the accented 3rd beat in the bass notes, you will want to accent the up beat chords a little in order to create the swing feel that you hear in Brazilian music. You don’t have to play heavy accents, but just making the upbeats a little louder than the downbeats will help get the authentic Brazilian feel you hear on classic recordings.

Blue Bossa Chord Study


Blue Bossa Guitar Chord Study-png (1)

Blue Bossa Backing Track

To help you work on this tune further in the woodshed, here is a short backing track that you can jam along to as you continue to explore these chords and rhythms further in your jazz guitar practice routine.



Further Reading


Do you have any questions about this Blue Bossa Guitar Chord Study? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


The Easy Guide to Jazz Guitar Chords

  1. Mike C.Mar 18, 2014 at 7:27 pm


    What is your take on the debate about the correct chords for this song? Chuck Sher’s New Real Book cites Cm6 chords, which I may be hearing in McCoy Tyner’s accompaniment on Joe Henderson’s original recording. There are other changes in that transcription, as well, such as the occasional Bb7 chord, etc. For such a simple tune, there are a lot of variations of what the correct changes are.

    • Matt WarnockMar 18, 2014 at 7:31 pm

      Hi Mike, I’ve seen the F7 in some charts, but never heard anyone play it on a gig so I stick with Cm7 for those two bars. As far as m6, you can use that sound, for me, m7, m9 and m6 are all shades of the same color, so within a performance of this tune I would alternate between all three depending on what the soloist is doing at any given time.

  2. HamiltonMar 20, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    At a time when there’s a daily stampede to get into your email inbox with all kinds of stuff, I’ve got to say that your tips/lessons have been really good, refreshing and helpful. Thank you for taking the time to share your craft and gift with many. May the gift of giving grant you the life of your dreams,daily. Keep Jammin’

  3. Bob ClarkeMar 20, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    Is there a sound track with these Bossa numbers? I wasn’t able to hear it, if the link was provided (I didn’t see a link). I have enjoyed your jazz lessons thus far.

    • Matt WarnockMar 20, 2014 at 11:36 pm

      Thanks Bob. You might need to update your browser to hear the audio, the player is right above the tab notes.

  4. chuck potzerMar 21, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    This was a fun and relatively easy lesson for me after recently having gone through the Carlos Arana bossa nova study book….a very good foundational to intermediate level book with CD examples,music and tabs. The best I’ve found of the several I own.

    The chord change in Blue Bossa from Fm7 to Dm7b5 is so subtle and sweet…and typical of the style. Please keep it coming. Thanks.

  5. Sharon Kathleen JohnsonMar 21, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Reminds me of “Girl from Ipanema”.

  6. EniMar 22, 2014 at 8:29 am

    Many thanks for sharing. I am still not in this league of players yet but the simpleness of your notes furnishes me with the encouragement I need to plod on

  7. TKMar 22, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Thanks for this – filled in some questions I’d had for years.

  8. GCTMar 23, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Great lesson and comments on Brazilian styling

  9. PoupakApr 2, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    I love it , 2 months ago I had a performance and this one was in the repertoire . first day learning all the chords seemed difficult to me but gradually after practicing I could play it without looking at the paper 🙂

  10. milkmannnvMar 10, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    Thank you for the nice chord comping lessons.They have really helped solidify my chord vocabulary,song structure and melodic chord phrasing.Thanks again!:)

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