Learn the vibrant guitar styles of bossa nova, tango and rumba with this lesson in South American rhythms

João Gilberto
João Gilberto is often referred to as the father of bossa nova (Image credit: Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images)

Welcome to our feature designed to explore a range of South American rhythms. Each has its own name and own particular sound, and its performers are highly proud and protective of each one’s authenticity.

What I hope you’ll gain from the lesson are some core techniques and concepts to help you build a vocabulary in these vibrant styles. We have chosen six contrasting rhythms from this exciting continent, and for each we have recorded a 16-bar  performance piece, with backing track to practise along with. 

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Jon Bishop

Jon Bishop is a UK-based guitarist and freelance musician, and a longtime contributor to Guitar Techniques and Total Guitar. He's a graduate of the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford and is touring and recording guitarist for British rock 'n' roll royalty Shakin’ Stevens.