send suggestions via email:

4.5 – playing together

The conversation with João Bosco revolves around his practice in the “adaptation” of the guitar played “solo” – which in this case refers to the performance of “guitar and voice”, with the melody being hummed vocally – for a guitar which favors the “sharing” [i] of the music with the other musicians in the group, and eventually, with the public. A description that directly deals with the idea of “arrangement” and that aims to reach the public’s expectation that just there “expects a certain sonorous result”.



00:00 adaptation?

I get impressed with the flexibility of the structures that you develop on the guitar.

I realize that when you play alone, you’ve got an arrangement,

and when you play with the band you can adapt,

sometimes softening a little the low pitch of the thumb…


Yeah, it is possible to adapt…


Essentially it is the same gesture, [i]

but it seems that you soften it a little, in a reaction that transforms it.

What do you have to say about it?


I “also” think that you save a little when you’re doing “solo”.

so that the other people may participate in your song.

Because, if you do everything you do on the “solo”, it won’t work out.

When you are alone, the guitar fills in the spaces,

from bass to treble, like in an orchestra. [i]

01:05 alone the guitar fills in all the spaces in the orchestra

01:48 sharing

 02:10 Agnus Sei (João Bosco/Aldir Blanc)

I’ll play this music “Agnus Sei”,

which was the first guitar and voice song that I recorded in 1972. The music has this groove:

[plays only two bars of the groove transcribed below]



[now in the third bar demonstrates the so called “flexibility” [i] of the structure, which also accepts the following variation]



When I play this with the band, the bass player does this

[plays the line he had been playing with the thumb on “full” groove, herein written in F-clef correspondent to the bass]



and I do

[plays the guitar part transcribed in the score below while sings the line of the bass



There the guitar has another role,

different from that it has when I play alone. Because when I play alone, I play like this…

[executes in a third manner what would be the same groove, now making use of a legato in the fifth string]


And then follows his singing according to the possibilities gathered throughout the over- 40-year period handling this song.




This is an example of how you share the music.

You leave the bass player doing that and you do something else.

You may, for instance, make another division

[develops the tuplet (or triplet) information, which – present in the singing – questions the bar proposed by the guitar. The tuplets alternating between two blocks of chord establish a 3-to-2 polyrhythmic game]




You keep adorning,

and leave the structure for the bass player, in his groove with the drummer.

This is “sharing a piece of music”.

If I’m going to do the same thing as he is,

we”ll be doing the same thing together, and it is not necessary.

Then playing together, sharing music, has a lot to do with your reducing your participation,

you do, you start distributing what you do.


In some cases – like in this specific piece – the composer-guitar-player adapts the guitar so that the bass player can develop his/her own inflection. It is quite common – even for him – to play with the bass player “doubling” the design of the line executed by the thumb of the “full” guitar (worth mentioning this is a usual resource inherent to the jazz guitar language). For example, in Corsário (João Bosco e Aldir Blanc)[i], the guitar in all the recordings by João Bosco presents the “full” guitar arrangement.  A fact present both in the recordings and solo performances and in those that count on the support of the band. João Bosco’s right-hand thumb not letting that the arrangement be changed so that each one “could do his part” can be verified in the live recording that has the abovementioned bassist Nico Assunção playing and developing that idea even further.


Occupying other spaces




It is about a process substantially different from what happens in the written tradition linked with the erudite repertoire, in which the importance of detailing aspects on the music sheet such as the articulation grows insofar as the formation gets denser, as Sérgio Assad puts it.



00:00 I even thought that the interpreter had to know

Most of the guitar music sheets that I have read along life have far too little information.

And I even thought that the interpreter had to know and did not need so much information. [i]

But when you’re playing with other musicians,

if you have this issue, let’s say, the marked articulation,

showing what you want to do, it gets complicated.

Because it is not you and just you solving the problems.

It is you together with other people.


It is significant the contrast between what João Bosco considers a process of sound distribution, which “only works when playing together”, and what Sérgio Assad views as a difficult or complicated musical situation, in a concert ambience, when questions such as that of articulation are not duly marked in the music sheet.

  1. LINK with the idea “sharing music is quite different from being in your room” presented in – 4.3 – a sala, o banheiro e a praça

  2. The example presented by João Bosco is that of a gesture that is completely “readapted”. However, we can see that, in most of his songs, the chord openings used in the left hand repeat from the “solo” (or “complete”) version to the “in band” (or “adapted”) version, fitting in these cases to the right hand, no more than this “relieving” of the gesture that opens space for other instrumentalists. To what João Bosco refers only through the “also” in the first line of his answer to follow.

  3. LINK with the idea “(Berlioz) sums it up, saying that the guitar is a ‘small orchestra’” presented in – 4.1 – guitar-piano – in the statement by Marco Pereira.

  4. LINK with the idea “It is difficult to express a guitar (like that of João Bosco or Gilberto Gil) only in the figures. The ideal, currently, is the filming ”presented in – 6.1 – see making:“ Jimbo no Jazz ”- in the testimony of Luiz Tatit.

  5. LINK with the idea “The edited scores of Guinga’s songs do not present a detail in terms of the expressive entities of the song” presented in – 6.5 – a poetic thing within a song with swing.