I'm preparing a Bossa Nova Tune and it will feature a Singer, Guitarist, Pianist(me) and some percussion. Now i want the guitar to play the typical Bossa Nova rhythm but I don't know what do play with the piano. I don't want to duplicate the rhythm with the guitar. I'm thinking of adding some fills, sustained chords, etc... with the piano. So I need some suggestions for the arrangement, maybe some songs that have the arrangement I'm looking for. Thank You

2 Answers 2


Go to the source, check out how Antonio Carlos Jobim plays piano on either of these classic recordings:


You can clearly see he is not trying to provide rhythm or groove (he leaves that to the guitar, which he himself played on the “Wave” album) but instead does the things you mentioned and more, fills, sustained chords and much more. It is very understated but that makes what he plays really be noticed.

Then again, sometimes the piano/keys can do a lot of rhythmic playing and it can work great as in this amazing recording by Elis Regina:

I think the guitar carrying the rhythm and the piano complementing is a more typical and time tried approach. It lets the music breathe a bit more but you can’t argue that there’s some great stuff going on in that Elis recording!


Adding to John's answer, there's usually a bass playing - in most pop-type music - and Bossa is no different. That's a job for the piano player's left hand, at least.

Guitar often has the rhythm job, along with the percussion/drums (and bass!), so that's the rhythm sorted. As John says, listen to some Bossa tracks, and it's there most of the time, and will inspire your writing of those parts.

As for the rest of the piano playing, some sustained chords, stabs and lines which may contrast with what the vox is doing, or even playing a harmony line will be enough - but don't play over the vox, but with it.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.