Bossa Nova music originated in Brazil in the 1950s and ’60s. Bossa Nova means “The New Thing” or “The New Trend”, and was first played in the beachside neighbourhoods of Rio de Janeiro. It’s a very laid-back and relaxed style of music that developed from the more upbeat and energetic Brazilian samba; it contains rhythmic elements from samba but has more sophisticated jazz-inspired harmony and more complex melodies.
Bossa Nova is traditionally performed by voice (or a melody instrument) and guitar with gentle percussion. Some of the most famous bossa nova musicians are the guitarist, singer and composer João Gilberto, composer, pianist, guitarist and singer Antônio Carlos Jobim, singer Astrud Gilberto and saxophonist Stan Getz. Here’s a picture of João Gilberto and Antônio Carlos Jobim playing their guitars together:
Listen to Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz performing one of the most famous Bossa Nova tunes, The Girl from Ipanema, composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim: