Caetano Veloso

In the turbulence of the late 1960s, the Tropicalia movement sprang, again from Bahia. This was an art movement of absurdic backlash against the normal, and in music its prominent practitioners were singer/songwriters Caetano Veloso and his sister Maria Bethania, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa and Tom Z?.

Musical Tropicalia used advanced or obscure lyricism and poetic word-play as an art form and, more importantly to the Brazilian legacy, introduced electric instruments from rock music-- electric guitar and bass.

The Tropicalia movement lasted only about two years, transforming in the wake of the increasing repression by the military government into MPB or M?sica Popular Brasileira, a general term for a broad group of popular music that retained roots of Samba, Forr? and other more regional forms, along with the electric instrumentation.

Tropicalia stars Veloso, Bethania, Gil and Costa became, and remain, some of the biggest names in MPB, but when they criticized the government, Veloso, Gil and Chico Buarque were all exiled while Costa remained in Brazil singing the songs that passed the censors. To get around the censorship, songwriters started using allegory, as in Buarque’s “Apesar de Vo?e” (In Spite Of You).

In the wake of British and US rock music’s cultural invasion, some popular music adapted more “western” sounds, derided by critics as “ie-ie-ie” (yeh-yeh-yeh) music, and also developed the Trio El?trico sound. The Bossa Nova artists saw an erosion of public support for their music and some began moving to the US.

Even today, the popular (read: best-selling) contemporary music features a revolving showcase of Rock (HAW-ke), Rap (HA-pe), Funk, or whatever the world (particularly the US) is doing. Rap, adapted to Brazilian styles, has become a voice for the downtrodden, as in the music of Recife’s Chico Science (recently killed in a road accident). And the Bloco Afro movements have infused a lasting influence.

Alongside these, Samba remains a permanent fixture, the most universal and distinctively Brazilian musical pulse, while the established Chorinho and Bossa Nova styles never fall out of fashion. Through it all, Brazilian music continues to be a melting pot of styles from within and without, always generating new, fresh and enticing ideas.