59 Brazilian Popular Music: An Anthropological Introduction (Part III) Rafael José de Menezes Bastos

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Brazilian Popular Music: An Anthropological Introduction (Part III)
Rafael José de Menezes Bastos


Antropologia em Primeira Mão é uma revista seriada editada pelo Programa de Pós-Graduação em Antropologia Social (PPGAS) da Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC). Visa a publicação de artigos, ensaios, notas de pesquisa e resenhas, inéditos ou não, de autoria preferencialmente dos professores e estudantes de pós-graduação do PPGAS.

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Antropologia em primeira mão / Programa de Pós Graduação em Antropologia Social, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina. —, n.1 (1995)- .— Florianópolis : UFSC / Programa de Pós Graduação em Antropologia Social, 1995 -

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ISSN 1677-7174

1. Antropologia – Periódicos. I. Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina. Programa de Pós Graduação em Antropologia Social.

Brazilian Popular Music: An Anthropological Introduction (Part III)*

Rafael José de Menezes Bastos**
The Twentieth-Century
- The Second Half (continued): The 1960's-1990's
- 1960's-1970's
When Brazil entered the 1960's, its popular music formed a true planet. This resulted from what cumulatively happened in the 1950's, which so were not so bad. As said, they were the time of birth of Bossa and baião and of updating of Old Guard music, involving samba and choro as genres for the entire year. Bossa consolidated itself during the 1960's -also through its dissidence, "Canção de Protesto" ("Protest Song")- and has shown up to now to have a great perennialty (Castro 2001, Távola 1998). As to baião and all the great variety of genres with a Northeastern origin -as xote, embolada and others- which after has passed to be identified under the umbrella of forró, also they have reached vigorously the present (Ramalho 2000, Dreyfus 1996, Teles 2000, Vieira 2000). The same has happened with the universe of Old Guard (Cazes 1998: 141-146, Livingston 1999) and other genres already integrating Brazilian popular music backbones, i.e., Caipira & Sertaneja music (Oliveira 2004), bolero & samba canção (Araújo 1999), frevo (Teles 2000) and others. So the referred backbones arrived at the 1960's richer and much more diverse than they were before, and simultaneously exhibiting a strong sense of unity and solidity.
The 1960's and 1970's strengthened this picture profoundly, particularly from 1964 on, with the growingly stronger intervention of the state in the communications sector promoted by the military regime. Then television passed to have an each time greater importance in the country, what had serious impacts in the divertissement sector, including the recording industry (Ortiz 1988, Morelli 1991, Dias 2000). Television was launched in Brazil in 1950, crossing the 1950's as a local means limited to the cities where there existed stations, particularly São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In 1960, video tape begun to be used, turning it possible that live programs could be diffused in other locales where they had not been produced. Also in 1960, through microwave, television integrated Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Brasília and Goiânia. This integration growingly reached other cities and towns toward the formation of each time more encompassing networks. As the military coup had as strategic finality to transform Brazil into a consume society based in monopolist accumulation (Ortiz 1988), the government took consequential measures to make it easier the importation of electronic equipments and components by TV stations and factories of TV apparatuses (Lorêdo, 2000: 60). In 1969, the first TV network transmission by satellite was made, what was generalized during the 1970's. In 1970, the production of TV apparatuses reached 860 thousands unities, what turned it unnecessary their importation. As to advertising, already in 1968 television concentrated 44.5% of all the national investment in the sector (Ortiz 1988: 128-130). As to the dimensions of the networks, by the middle of the 1970's they were so big that small towns of the countryside were included in it (Milanesi 1978). Also the recording industry -involving LPs, single and double compacts and cassette tapes- as well as that of home disc-players grew vigorously. This has transformed the country into one of the largest phonographic market in the world, from the end of the 1970's on (Morelli 1991, Dias 2000, Menezes Bastos 1999).
Simultaneously, the military regime -particularly from 1968 on with the edition of "AI-5"- mounted a powerful system of political-ideological control of cultural production. This was based not only on repression, expressed by a draconian censorship of everything that -being pertinent to the fields of culture and arts- could reach the public, especially lyrics of songs (very rarely their music themselves), books, magazines and other similar items. Being also constitutive, the referred system of control also had as its support the foundation of public stations of TV -or the intervention on private ones- toward the production of cultural and artistic works which could positively satisfy the so called "Doutrina de Segurança Nacional" ("National Security Doctrine"), a pervasive corpus of ideology designed by right wing intellectuals, typically those linked to the "Escola Superior de Guerra" ("War Superior College") [Comblin 1980, Ortiz 1988].
As a result of all that, popular music, which had vanguard, irreverence and rebellion as its more strong rhetoric marks in Brazil during the middle and late 1960's -particularly through "Canção de Protesto", "Tropicalismo", "Clube de Esquina" and "Jovem Guarda" ("Young Guard")-, entered the 1970's dominated by constraint. This had as consequence the exile of some of its major members: Geraldo Vandré (nickname of singer, songwriter Geraldo Pedrosa de A. Dias; Paraíba 1935-), Caetano Veloso (singer, songwriter, essayist; Salvador 1942-), Gilberto Gil (singer, songwriter, guitarist; Salvador 1942-), Chico (nickname of singer, songwriter, novelist Francisco Buarque de Hollanda; Rio 1944-]) and Milton Nascimento (singer, songwriter, guitarist; Rio, 1942-). Vandré, the greatest name of "Canção de Protesto", due to persecution and censorship exiled himself initially in Chile, living in many countries after (1968-1982 [see Marcondes, ed.: 804-5]). The following two, leaders of "Tropicalismo", were imprisoned by the military and had to leave the country, moving to England where they lived during 1969-70. Chico, although not put in jail by the regime, suffered a so strong censorship that had to move abroad, to Italy (1969-70). Nascimento, the leader of "Clube de Esquina", moved to the United States (1968-69).
It is not the case of constructing the 1970's as another ugly duckling of Brazilian popular music, dominated by dilution and the alike. Much to the contrary, the decade shows important conquests, through the work of landmark individuals, bands and musical circles that were able to create popular music in ways not immediately under vigilance by the regime. This was the case, as already said, of Old Guard samba and of forró. As to the former, Elton Medeiros (singer, songwriter; Rio 1930-), Martinho da Vila (nickname of singer and songwriter Martinho José Ferreira; Rio 1938-) and Paulinho da Viola (singer, songwriter, guitarist; Rio 1942-) were particularly important in the period and continue to be until now. Regarding forró and its pop reinvention, some of the more significant musicians with their careers launched in the 1970's were Alceu Valença (singer, songwriter, guitarist; Pernambuco, 1946-), Raimundo Fagner Lopes (singer, songwriter, guitarist; Ceará 1950-), José Ednardo Sousa (singer, songwriter, guitarist; Ceará 1945-), Geraldo Azevedo (singer, songwriter, guitarist; Pernambuco 1945-), Dominguinhos (nickname of singer, songwriter, accordionist José Domingos de Morais; Pernambuco, 1941-), Zé Ramalho (nickname of singer, songwriter and guitarist José Ramalho Neto; Paraíba 1949-) and Elba Ramalho (singer; Paraíba 1951-). Among bands, "Novos Baianos" ("New Bahians"; see Galvão 1997) and "Secos e Molhados" (untranslatable) were very important. Both groups lasted only for parts of the decade but some of their members are still now important names of Brazilian popular music. For the first band, it is the case of Morais Moreira (nickname of singer, songwriter Antonio Carlos Moreira Pires; Bahia 1947-). Regarding the second, of Ney Matogrosso (nickname of singer Ney de Sousa Pereira; Mato Grosso 1941-). "Os Mutantes" ("The Mutants") could be cited as another band of the 1970's but it was much more visible during the late 1960's until 1972, when Rita Lee (singer, songwriter, guitarist; São Paulo 1947-) abandoned it to produce her solo career, extremely productive until now. As to musical circles, the 1970's were the scenario of consolidation of "Música Instrumental Brasileira" ("Brazilian Instrumental Music"; the so called "Brazilian Jazz") -independent from then on of its environment in Bossa Nova (Piedade 2003)- and of choro, similarly in search of autonomy in relation to Old Guard samba (Cazes 1998: 141-146, Livingston 1999). The decade was also the time when has begun the national dissemination of Carnival music from Bahia, initially based on the "trio elétrico" (literally, "electric trio"; a movable truck with an originally strings and percussion band, taking the dancing crowd throughout the streets of a city; see Góes 1982). The 1970's were also the epoch of strong dissemination of "sambão" -also called "sambão jóia" (both terms are untranslatable)-, linked especially, among others, to individual singers Benito di Paula (Rio 1941-), Luiz Ayrão (biographic data not available) and the duo Antonio Carlos (Bahia 1945-) & Jocafi (Bahia 1944-). "Sambão", a kind of pop samba usually immersed in the universe of dramatic passion, has been considered "brega" ("vulgar") by sectors of the intelligentsia (Araújo 1987, 1988; Araújo, P. 2002). Finally, the decade was also the point of departure for a more academic approach to popular music in Brazil, in universities, colleges and seasonal meetings also called festivals but without being competitive. This has generated an important production of essays, articles, books, theses and dissertations in fields such as sociology, anthropology, communication, music and others; songbooks with transcriptions and the growingly generalized use of the system of ciphers based on functional harmony; and the possibility of one getting a diploma in popular music in universities.
In 1965, through the "1º. Festival de Música Popular Brasileira" ("1st Festival of Brazilian Popular Music") promoted by "TV Excelsior" in São Paulo, television not only consecrated the main arena of Brazilian popular music for during the rest of the 1960's and part of the 1970's -the competitive musical festival (see Vilarino 1999, Ribeiro 2002, Mello 2003). It simultaneously created an updated trend of it, expressed by a new usage of the term "Música Popular Brasileira" (literally "Brazilian Popular Music") and its acronym, "MPB". Later on, television also established the crucial space of dissemination of some of the main lineages of the referred trend -the live musical show.
The festival as a competitive popular music event in Brazil dates from the 1930's and even before with the "concursos de composição" ("composition competitions") connected to carnival in Rio (Tinhorão 1981: 177). The model of "TV Excelsior"'s referred one follows this tradition, being at the same time tributary of that one linked to radio, especially as expressed in its already studied live shows (“programas de auditório”) and “programas de calouros” (“talent search programs”) [Tinhorão 1981: 175). Note that television in Brazil begun to be done basically by migrants from radio and not, as in the United States and some European countries, from cinema (Ortiz 1988). Finally, the festival under comment seems to pursue also the model dictated by San Remo's Italian Song Festival (Tinhorão 1981: 175). Anyway, the "1st Festival of Brazilian Popular Music" inaugurated a new phase in the Brazilian popular music scenario, constituting a critical place of encounter involving television, the press, the recording industry, musicians and the audience. As to the latter, college students immersed in the fights that opposed conservative and innovative wings constituted its core. As studied, since the 1930’s the field of popular music in the country -involving both musicians and the audience- has been divided between those identified with the canon formed by Brazilian popular music backbones and those in search for progressive positions. The analytical problem here is that this opposition has been done in Brazil at least in three seldom congruent spheres -political, ideological and aesthetical-, and so it is not easily reducible to the classic antinomy right/left, much usually read in macro political-ideological terms. The participation of the audience in the live transmissions of the festivals was extremely active, characterized by the intense use of claps, boos and catcalls, what in some cases arrived to physical aggression involving the musicians and the audience divided in factions. This combat disposition crossed many fields -particularly those linked to culture and art- reaching college's campuses, the press, the world of magazines dedicated to popular music -a sector that grew expressively in the period- and producing strong intellectual debate (see Barbosa, org. 1966; Schwartz 1978).
The term "Música Popular Brasileira" until the late 1950's was used in the country -typically by folklorists- to identify the universe of folk music, characterized as eminently rural. A classic such as Alvarenga (1960) consecrates this kind of usage, according to which what presently is known as "popular music" in Brazil was an exemption, only accepted if seen as legitimate in terms of the country's folk tradition (see especially pp. 283-301). "Música popularesca" ("music of the populace") was the derogative label applied to all the rest. Rangel (1962) -by a journalist- was one of the first books in the country to employ the term to point to popular music as a genuine type, similarly to folk and art music. Of course this genuinety was also selective as the author studied only "Carioca" music in the tradition of samba and choro. Vasconcelos (1964) amplified this position, approaching the phenomenon -yet having Rio as scenario- with a historical perspective. Tinhorão (1966) consecrated it, additionally inaugurating a more sociological and political treatment of the theme. What happened since the festival in comment was that the expression "Brazilian popular music" -significantly replaced by the acronym "MPB"- passed to identify only the individual and trends which could be recognized as Bossa's heirs. This included Chico Buarque, Edu Lobo (nickname of singer, songwriter, arranger Eduardo de Góis Lobo; Rio 1943-), Elis Regina (singer; Rio Grande do Sul 1945 – São Paulo 1982) and the members of the "Canção de Protesto", "Tropicalismo" and "Clube de Esquina" circles. All the rest was residual, what provoked the creation of an expression to indicate the new trend -"música de festival" ("ad hoc festival music") [see Miller 1968].
Finally MPB's festivals established a new kind of television live musical shows, directly linked to MPB main lineages. This was the case, immediately after the referred first festival, of the show "O Fino da Bossa" ("The Best of Bossa"), of "TV Record" of São Paulo, under the guidance of Elis Regina and Jair Rodrigues (singer; São Paulo 1939-). Elis Regina was the main interpreter of the first festival's winner song, the famous "Arrastão" (untranslatable [a typically Northeastern folk practice of fishing]) by Edu Lobo (music) and Vinícius de Moraes (lyrics; singer, songwriter, poet; Rio 1913 – 1980). In 1967, the same "TV Record" launched "Disparada" (perhaps "Herd of Cattle Bolt"), a show under the leadership of Vandré, winner of the 2nd "TV Record"'s Festival, of 1966, with a tune with the same title, tied in first place with "A Banda" ("The Band") by Chico Buarque. Similarly, in 1968 "TV Tupi" of São Paulo hired Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil to command the show "Divino Maravilhoso" ("Divine Marvelous"). Gil and Veloso were extremely successful in the 3rd Festival promoted in 1967 by "TV Record" of São Paulo although they only obtained respectively its second and fourth places. These shows were profoundly consequential for "MPB" as they were constructed as spaces not only for its dissemination but also cultivation and celebration: on the one side they had as conductors names each time more invested with prestige in the scenario of popular music in the country. On the other, they had as habitual guests similarly growingly conspicuous musicians: Chico Buarque, Edu Lobo, Gal Costa (nickname of singer Maria da Graça Burgos; Bahia 1945-), Tom Zé (nickname of singer, songwriter, arranger Antônio José S. Martins; Bahia 1936-) and many others. "TV Record" of São Paulo launched also in 1965 another live show called "Jovem Guarda" ("Young Guard"), having as presenters Roberto Carlos (singer, songwriter; Espírito Santo 1939-), Erasmo Carlos (singer, songwriter; Rio 1941-) and Wanderléia Salim (singer; Minas Gerais 1946-), the leaders of "Jovem Guarda" as a musical circle. This show had one of the greatest audiences in the history of Brazilian TV -provoking the decrease of "O Fino da Bossa"'s-, strongly contributing to the transformation of Roberto Carlos into the champion of discs selling in the country.
As already studied, rock music in Brazil dates from the 1950's, when it begun to arrive to the country coming from the United States -after, also from England-, initially through films (Martins 1966, Dapieve 1995, Pugialli 1999, Fróes 2000). Since 1957, its Brazilian cultivators, particularly from São Paulo, such as the brothers Tony (nickname of singer and producer Sérgio Campelo; São Paulo 1936-) and Celly Campelo (nickname of singer Célia Campello; São Paulo 1942 – 2003), successfully dedicated themselves to disseminate the genre, releasing Portuguese versions of tunes by authors such as Elvis Presley, Paul Anka, Neil Sedaka, Pat Boone, or even singing in their English originals. During the earlier 1960's under the impact of Bossa's success, this first trend of the genre in Brazil lost penetration, gaining new forces in 1963 with Ronnie Cord (nickname of singer, songwriter Ronald Cordovil; Minas 1943 – São Paulo 1986) [Marcondes, ed. : 411-412]. Although, it was only with "Jovem Guarda" properly -derogatively also called in Brazil "iê-iê-iê" (an eventually ironic reference to the "yeah-yeah-yeah" phrasing frequent in the lyrics of some tunes of the "Beatles", as "She Loves You")- that rock music expanded its popularity in the country, soon transforming its main members into champions of the market. Toward this, the group's program in "TV Record" (1965-69) was decisive, celebrating its crucial message -young rebellion. This rebellion, under Roberto Carlos' ("The King of Youth") Erasmo Carlos' ("Tremendão", perhaps "Tremendous") and Wanderléia's ("Ternurinha", "Little Tender") command, was characterized in the show by the use of an appealing universe of performing marks: on the linguistic level, a distinctive slang; on the construction of the body, the profuse use of grimaces and the employment of dresses similar, for example, to those on the cover of the "Beatles"'s "Sergeant Pepper", bizarre longhairs by the men, provocative mini-skirts by the women; in musical terms, the until then uncommon in Brazil utilization of electronic instruments (guitars and others) to accompany songs sometimes more similar to ballads, boleros and samba canções then properly to Anglo-American rocks.
Irreverence toward the "past" could be the summa of "Jovem Guarda" rebellion, labeled by some authors as "romantic" (Martins 1966). This irreverence was not -at least immediately- against the present in macro-political terms, the military regime. This and its use of a paraphernalia of Anglo-American origin signs, summed with its pretensely not progressive musical position had as a consequence for the group its accusation -typically by Bossa's heirs in the line of "Protest Song" such as Vandré and Regina- of lack of originality, alienation and even collaborationism. The members of "Tropicalismo" did not share this kind of accusation, positively valuing "Jovem Guarda"' -typically its use of electronic instruments- and participating many times as guests in their show. As said, the show was one of the biggest successes in the history of Brazilian television, attracting many bands and individuals. "Jovem Guarda" as a circle left to exist with the extinction of its show in 1969, though Roberto Carlos and Erasmo Carlos continue until now being extremely successful. In the 1970's, it was the time of "Nova Jovem Guarda" ("New Young Guard"), involving among others the bands "Os Titãs" ("The Titans") and "Blitz" ("War", in German). Throughout the 1980's-1990's many important musicians and bands -not only of the rock circle- made successful renditions of "Jovem Guard" classics such as "O Calhambeque" ("Banger") and "É Proibido Fumar" ("Smoking Prohibit!"). This points to the fact "Young Guard" now pertains to the backbones of Brazilian popular music, not as a member of "MPB" but as an independent musical universe such as "Old Guard".
"Tropicalismo", also called "Tropicália" see (Veloso 1997; Cyntrão, ed. 2000; Dunn 2001), had as its core musicians and writers from Bahia and São Paulo. Among the musicians, were Veloso, Gil (its leaders), Tom Zé, Gal Costa, the band "Os Mutantes" and arrangers Rogério Duprat (São Paulo 1932-), Damiano Cozzela (São Paulo 1929-) and Júlio Medaglia (São Paulo 1939-). The latter three were migrants of vanguard Western art music. Among the writers -typically in the role of lyrics authors-, were José Carlos Capinam (Bahia 1941-) and Torquato Neto (Piauí 1944 – Rio de Janeiro 1972). This core had consequential relationships with intellectuals of many other fields. This was the case of poetry, through Augusto de Campos (São Paulo 1931-), Haroldo de Campos (São Paulo 1929 – 2003) and Décio Pignatari (São Paulo 1927-), vanguard poets linked to Concretism (Santaella 1986); of movies, particularly through Glauber Rocha (director; Bahia 1939 - 1981), main member of "Cinema Novo" ("New Cinema"; see Maciel 1996); plastic arts, principally through vanguard artist Hélio Oiticica (Rio de Janeiro 1937 - 1980); and theater, especially through dramaturges and directors José Celso Martinez Correia (São Paulo 1942-) and Luiz Carlos Maciel (Rio Grande do Sul 1938-). Oswald de Andrade (São Paulo 1890 – 1954), the famous modernist writer founder of cultural cannibalism, was the chosen ancestor of the group (Maltz et alli 1993). Cultural cannibalism defended an imagined Amerindian-centered perspective for Brazil, according to which the cultural cannibalization of the "other" was the adequate procedure toward the construction of Brazilian culture. The group's ethos can be summarized through a generalized disposition of "deboche" ("derision"), appropriately read in terms of Bakhtin's (1981) carnivalization. This ethos echoed a pervasive critic attitude toward the establishment is Brazil, according to which the oppositions traditional/modern, Brazilian/foreign, erudite/popular ought to be dialectically superseded. The makeup of the musicians of the group -men's and women's- was based on the use of carnivalized dresses, hairs and body construction in general, marked by a theatrical corporeality as they were representing on stage. Carmen Miranda -the famous singer known as "Brazilian Bombshell" in the United States during the 1940's until 1954- was one of their preferential characters, typically by Veloso (see Veloso 2001).

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