Bossa Nova Drum Beat: A Step-by-Step Guide

How To Play Bossa Nova Drum Beat

The bossa nova drum beat definitely is a musical gem you will love:

This Brazilian groove not only is fun to play, but also really smooth sounding as well.

In addition, it can be a motivating challenge for drum beginners.

That’s why in today’s step-by-step guide, I’m sharing a favorite bossa nova drum beat.

We’re starting with the bass drum pattern in eighth notes as it is the fundation of our groove.

Playing The New Beat On The Drums: The Bass Is Our Basis

For drum beginners, it makes sense to lay down the basis of the bossa with the following kick pattern:

Drum Notes Bossa Nova Bass Drum

As you can see in the drums sheet music, you constantly repeat it.

You can also here the repetitive pattern in this MP3:

The fundation of our bossa drum groove includes

  • quarter notes,
  • eighth note rests
  • and eighth notes.

Instead of the rests, I could have also written down dotted quarter notes.

They are equally as long as a quarter and a eighth note rest.

The numbers below the rhythm indicate a way my preferred way of rhythmic counting.

Please note, that some drummers like to play the second kick a little louder than the first one.

If you want to, you can give this a try, too.

Also, you can add the hi-hat when the initial kick pattern runs smoothly.

You don’t have to do so, but stepping on the hi-hat will add another great sound nuance to the bossa:

Drum Beat Bossa Nova Explained

Here’s what it would sound like:

See why I chose the rests instead the dotted quarter notes?

Yes, we simply replaced the rests with the hi-hat.

Neat, isn’t it? 🙂

Adding The Ride To Our Bossa Nova Drum Beat

The next step of learning our bossa is to add our ride cymbal.

You add it to our kick basis laid down in eighth notes.

Have a look at our drums sheet music:

Drumming ideas

Just like the bass drum, the ride pattern stays the same.

Listen to it:

And this is the basis of kick plus hi-hat and the ride pattern:

Bossa Nova Drums Beat without Clave

Finally: The Complete Beat With The Clave

Our bossa nova drum beat isn’t complete yet.

We definitely need to add something more:

The clave played as a rim-click.

Rim what?

That’s the clicking sound you get when putting your drum stick horizontally on your snare drum head and playing it.

You might also heard of the rim-click as being called

  • sidestick
  • or cross-stick

In this video by Mike Barnes, the rim-click is well explained:

In addition to the rim-click, we do need something else for learning a full bossa nova on the drums:

It’s the so-called clave, a rhythmic key.

Here’s what the clave pattern looks like.

3-2 Son Clave Pattern

As you can see, we have a two-bar rhythm.

3-2 Clave Pattern

Not only for this reason, it’s important to know how to play the clave.

Make sure to count it!

And – if you really want to feel it – listen to some bossa nova music.

You understand the clave pattern?

Now it’s time to add it to our groove basis made of

  • the kick,
  • ride cymbal
  • and (perhaps) the hi-hat.
Drum Beat Bossa Nova No Hi-Hat

Including the hi-hats:

Free Drum Notes Bossa Nova

And here’s a complete summery of the guide for the sheet music folder:

PDF Notes Bossa Nova Drum Beat

More Tips For Learning The Bossa Nova Drum Beat

The bossa nova is a wonderful drum rhythm.

However, you have to understand it to be able to play it.

Also, feeling the rhythm is crucial.

For this reason, I highly recommend

  • learning the bass drum pattern first,
  • adding the ride and
  • then take your time learning the clave.

When you’ve mastered each of these steps, you can combine them.

But take it sloooow in the beginning.

I highly recommend:

Practice so slow, you can’t get it wrong.

If a slow tempo works out for you, add some more bpm to your metronome.

Sooner or later, you will be able to play our lovely new beat.

Have fun doing so!

And also, make sure to listen to the music you’re going to play on the drums.

This helps you feel your art on a much deeper level.

Oh, and feel free to ask any questions down in the comments below.


drummer manu


How do you like the bossa nova drum beat I shared in this step-by-step guide?


If you’re wondering, the MP3s in this guide are made with MuseScore.

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Author: Manu Holmer

Hi, I'm Manu Holmer, nice to meet you! As a professional drummer and drum teacher, my vision is to help others transform their lives with the power of music. Let's not only play the drums. Feel the rhythm & and walk to our own beats!

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