In part 1 of this series, we analyzed Oscar Peterson’s fill-style comping on “Sweet Loraine” alongside Herb Ellis’ 4-in-the-bar style comping. In part 2 of this 3-part series, we are going to examine how to comp alongside a guitarist on a Bossa nova tune.

When comping in a Brazilian group, the guitarist serves as the rhythmic anchor and takes the dominant accompaniment role by comping traditional Brazilian rhythms. As a result, this frees up the pianist to be more spacious and melodic in it’s comping approach.

Check out the transcription PDF below as we listen to how Antonio Carlos Jobim uses melodic fills as a comping device to enhance the accompaniment on the bridge to “Girl from Ipanema”:

There are a few major reoccurring themes that appear in Jobim’s fill-style comping to take note of:

  • Be Aware of the Accompaniment Space as a Whole!
    • You notice that Jobim does not get involved in any heavy chordal or rhythmic accompaniment because that space is already occupied by the guitar. So in order to enhance the accompaniment, Jobim simply inserts tasteful melodic fills.
    • On the other hand, if you find yourself comping in a Brazilian group without a guitarist, you then as the pianist much adopt the role of the “guitarist” and comp the traditional Bossa nova rhythms.
  • Don’t Overplay!
    • In order to achieve maximum impact, it is important to not overuse melodic fills. In this excerpt from the bridge of “Girl from Ipanema” you notice Jobim only inserts 2 melodic fill phrases. In doing so, he leaves the audience asking for one more, not one less!
  • Looks for Spaces in the Melody
    • Notice how the placement of Jobim’s fills is always in between melodic phrases. Look for spaces in the melody to insert a melodic fill.
  • Simple and Melodic! 
    • Jobim’s fills are considered “tasteful” because they are simple and melodic. The phrases are no more than 1-2 bars in length and have a lyrical, melodic quality to them.



Bijan Taghavi is a pianist, composer, and educator currently based in New York, NY. For more information visit:

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Brenden Lowe

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