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The Brazilian Partido Alto Rhythm

The Reverse Partido Alto: A Key Rhythmic Structure

One of the most important rhythmic structures in Brazilian music is the Partido Alto, which functions in a similar way to the clave in Cuban. Essentially, the Partido Alto is a two-bar rhythm that is repeated throughout the music and provides the fundamental phrasing for the melody, harmony, and backing figures of the music.

This piece of music uses a "reverse" Partido Alto, which starts with a quaver rest and then a strong note on the and of one. At first, this can be hard to get used to, as you are much more used to hearing the downbeat on one accented. So don't underestimate the importance of listening to the music (a lot!) before you can get comfortable with this rhythm. 

Using the Reverse Partido Alto in the Melody.

To practice the Reverse Partido Alto, start by playing it on your instrument using one note. Keep the notes short and staccato, and emphasize the first upbeat note slightly.

Understanding the Harmony of Latin Music

In addition to its unique rhythms, Latin music also features colorful harmonies that are often based on simple chord progressions. For example, in the A section of this tune, the harmony is based on a simple I-V-I progression. In C minor, this would mean playing C minor for four bars, followed by G7 for eight bars, then back to C minor for four bars. But Horace Silver embellishes this basic sequence with some chromatic side steps to add some flavour. 


By understanding the fundamentals of Latin rhythms and harmony, musicians can add a new dimension to their playing and composition. The Reverse Partido Alto is a key rhythmic structure that underpins much of Latin music, and it can be an excellent exercise for musicians of all levels. By incorporating this structure into your playing, you can add a new level of groove and authenticity to your improvised solos. 

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