UD#53 Latin Rhythms: Picking Patterns for Bossa and Samba!

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Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 11.47.07 AMLatin Rhythms: Picking Patterns for Bossa and Samba!  (UD#53)
from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek

Here’s a video of me playing a tune called Blue Bossa with my Mya Moe baritone, Martin T-1 and a little help from my looper pedal. Please give the video a look. It will give you an idea of the type of the rhythm and groove that I am interested in teaching today.


Before I start talking about technical details like fingering and counting I’d like you to get a really clear idea of the rhythm that we are going to play.

Here I clap the rhythm of a basic Bossa Nova beat please give it a listen, try to clap along and get this simple rhythm “in your bones”:

For learning purposes purposes I assign some spoken syllables to the rhythm that go like this:

“Pinch  Ja  Boo Ja “

This may seem a little bizarre but please bear with me. Please learn to say “Pinch Ja Boo Ja”  in the Bossa Nova rhythm. We’ll associate a picking hand movement with each of these syllables later in the lesson. We are laying the ground work! Click the below to listen:

Let’s put it together…

Below is a little video that demonstrates a simple Bossa Nova picking pattern using the  “Pinch  Ja  Boo Ja” method. I play a simple chord progression to demonstrate:

| Am                    | D7                      |


| Dm                     | G7                      |

Then I play through the chords to Blue Bossa! There is a chart for Blue Bossa at the bottom of the page for your reference.

Enjoy the video:

Okay! Please, work on the basic Bossa Nova rhythm until you are very comfortable with it. When you are ready for more here is a challenge for you.


I want to show you a rhythm that I have been using since it was shown to me by my Argentinian musician friend Carlos Ortega. I always thought it was Bossa Nova pattern but I have recently learned that it is a Samba pattern. I use it on Bossa Nova tunes though!

I am going to present this SAMBA rhythm the same way I presented the simple BOSSA rhythm.

Here’s a recording of me clapping the SAMBA rhythm then I add the “Pinch Ja Boo Ja” syllables to it. Hopefully with what you have learned so far you will be able to figure out the picking pattern. Give it a try! Just a quick heads up. This Samba pattern is TWICE as long as the Bossa pattern:

Please click the image above to hear the recording

Here’s a video of me demonstrating the Samba rhythm and also applying it to the chords of Blue Bossa:

Okay that’s all for this week. I have been spacing out my newsletters these days to work on the chord melody book. I am planning to do another episode for Ukulele in the Dark the same time next month. Look forward to spending time with you then!Below you will find a chart for Blue Bossa and tab for today’s two Latin rhythms.All the best,


-click image for printable version-

Here is a tabbed out version of the two patterns. You may notice the classical picking hand notation: “p.i.m.a”
Thumb=p  Index=i  Middle=m  Ring finger=a

-click image for printable version-


P.S. I am regularly adding new lessons to Ukulele in the Dark. Please subscribe to my mailing list below to receive every lesson right when it comes out. Be sure not to miss a thing!


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