bossa nova flows

About a year ago I restarted playing the guitar, first at home and afterwards in parks across Vienna.

Since I wanted to compose some new chords, I was wondering which type of music was matching my current state. I felt like getting something relax, but not sad or too passive. I jumped then into bossa nova and enjoy it a lot since then.

Technicians may say that bossa nova is too broad and there are lots of music styles among this legacy from Brazil. But I am not an expert, I do it for fun. And thus I may call it and put in my world in the way I want.

The rythm is vibely, it makes me stand-up and start my day. The chords are warm and surprise me every minute. There is no exact structure and strings can be a bit complex (jazz musicians will find it familiar). Still I learned basic chords pretty fast and start improvising. Once I got the rythm, I could hear my guitar with pleasant sounds just by coming up with string experiments.

The vocals are appealing, and lyrics are commonly positive and invite to join. They are not that high or low, they are natural. Even if you did not understand portuguese, you can get the vibe if you put yourself on the song.

Start your bossa nova journey through a set of classic songs. Then you can choose at which temperature you want to keep it going. Do not use headphones, better hear it at home with good bass strength in a wireless speaker.

Do not stick to the same music you have to hear on the weekends, try new stuff and discover your own tastes.

Baby steps for compositions

Once I started playing guitar as a hobby, the idea of composing songs became reality. Putting your mind state and creativity in sounds is fun! After some time, those improvisations became parts of songs, which I reworked several times. And the last versions became those songs which where played together with friends.

Do you need a method for composing music? sure you should, a song from Ismael Miranda reminds us some basic steps for beginners:

  • A reason is needed: usually there is at least one thing that pops up in you mind during the day. That is a good reason for writing a text and/or trying out some notes related to that.
  • A constructive theme: avoid negative topics. Writing about broken hearts or how shitty is the world may look like being deep emotional. However, putting yourself around that attitude harms your vitality in the long term. Put lyrics and sound in front of you as a tool to lead in life.
  • And also inspiration: if course it may be difficult to compose in the middle of stress or during another activity. Choose some time during the day where you may have the serenity to put those senses into notes.
  • You must be patient, otherwise you will loose it: this is a good tip. Do not expect to come up with complete songs at the first try. Improvisation may be a good thing, but most of the time you have different versions of the same notes. Bring it to life, nurture it, let it grow, and leave it if that shall be the case.
  • Put seasoning on it: this is about having fun at the end. Play it and add those details that you enjoy. The songs are basically a reflect of your personality.

Try out putting your present state into sounds and lyrics. And enjoy uniting your dreams with your daily life.

Jam session or open mic?

This one goes to the music players. It is not just about nice sounds, but also passing your personal state to the outside world. Playing music is for me like a therapy and lets me connect with others, which quite balances the current digitalized yet impersonal venues.

If you play an instrument, then you may be interested to build your friends’ circle in Vienna with other musicians. Sounds like a plan, so where to start? for the last couple of years I noticed two particular types of events: jam sessions and open mics (microphones). Both are aimed to connect musicians, but are different in the context and type in interaction. So I decided to make a short list of characteristics for you to better decide:

What to expect in a jam session?

  • You will play with others: fun and knowing new people is guaranteed.
  • However, if you are not good enough, it will be fair that somebody else takes over your instrument.
  • It will last pretty long: you could play between 30 and 60 min without interruption. It is just about putting some chords on the table and/or following others.
  • There is an after party. Or even more, non-musicians will dance and make a party together with you.
  • You meet musicians with high spirit, most of them are having their 15 min of full fun.
  • There are always exotic instruments to watch around.

What to expect in an open mic?

  • Everybody will have 10 min to play their own songs. It is a chance to test and/or introduce your repertoire to a public.
  • It is smooth: just chill and relax hearing others while waiting for your turn.
  • There is also an after party of course, so you will also interact with others.
  • These events are more common during the week, there are at least 2 open mics during weekdays.
  • You meet musicians with good technique. Most of them are studying music and bring good inputs to learn from.

You probably found advantages and disadvantages for each type of event. Generally, I recommend you to go to open mics if you already have some songs and want to motivate others to join you. Also if you are in a chilly mood and just want to stay for a few moments.

On the other hand, jam sessions work better if you are willing to… jam around. There is no pressure to prepare a program. It is also more fun if you want to party a bit longer and want to mingle with the people.

Try both and check what suits you best.