Bossa Nova chords

Bossa Nova is a relative hard style to learn, mostly because of the rhythmic practice that make use of syncopated patterns. This is an introduction that mainly focuses on chords you can use to begin play in the Bossa Nova style.

There is one specific chord group you can use and combine with fitting rhythms to instantly make your guitar sound Bossa Nova. The name of the chord is 6/9 (sixth with an added ninth). And it is movable, in other words: you only need to learn one shape. A tip for better remember the chord, compare C6/9 to C6 (X3221X) and C9 (X3233X).

Here is a diagram of C6/9 chord followed by D6/9 chord:






As you can see, you use the same shape for both chords and only move it two steps up the fretboard to get from C top D. Therefore, it is no need to show all 6/9 chords by diagrams. Instead, we focus on the movable shape:

6/9 chord shape

You could strum the chord, but should as well try fingerpicking. A tip is to sometimes include the bass note on the string above the root.

Positioning the fingers

The shape can be a little difficult because you need to press down two strings with one finger. The long finger is pressing down the root (second string), the index finger pressing down both third and fourth strings, the middle finger pressing down the fifth and the little finger pressing down the sixth.

There is also possible to play a simplified version of the chord:

6/9 chord shape alternative

Bossa Nova rhythm

A Bossa Nova rhythm commonly consists of syncopated patterns which means that the accents are not lying on the typical beats. To put it more concretely: you are strumming “between the beats”. Listen to artists such as João Gilberto and Luíz Bonfá to get a feel for it.

Other chords

There are of course more than one sort of chord used in Bossa Nova. If you are familiar with jazz guitar you will have a big advantage; otherwise, you should try to learn minor 9th, dominated 9th and 7/b9 chords.


Examples of progressions in the style of Bossa Nova:

C6/9 - Dmaj7 - Am7

F#m7 - E6/9 - B13

D6/9 - Emaj7 - A6/9 - F#m9 (see tab)

tab chord progression

As said before, this is just an introduction to the style, for more in-depth lessons is a recommended site.

Jam tracks

Here are sound tracks with only drums to jam with in bossa style.

Jam track 1
Jam track 2
Jam track 3

<< See all styles