Tropicália

1995 Words 8 Pages
‘For the Tropicália movement, music was a form of politics.’ Discuss.

The music of Tropicália brought a subtle political message of unity and social activism to Brazil in a time of heavy repression. It developed in 1967, following the psychedelic rock movements of USA and UK, but was quickly restricted the following year when its founding members, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, were exiled as threats to society. Its music applied a mixture of musical styles, from Brazilian traditional dance to American rock, to create a new, synthesized culture of the tropical and the modern. In doing so, it rejected Brazil’s strong nationalist agenda, from both sides of the political spectrum, and posed as a social critique to both the conservative elite
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Glauber Rocha’s Terra em transe brilliantly highlights the cyclical nature of traditional repression by presenting the oppressive elite of populism and autocracy as equal in failing to meet the needs of the povo and yet destined to retain power. Stamm comments that ‘Romanticism, the film suggests, is out of place in a world where the political earth is in convulsion’[ Stamm,1976, pp. 49-51]. This ‘convulsion’ can be seen as the effect of rapid modernization, as Brazil’s elite repeatedly focused on their economy before its people. Tropicália adopts this message to create a similar disillusionment from Brazilian populism by upheaving its nationalist roots and attacking some of its immoral developmentist attitudes. As Rocha’s populist crowds hold blank signs in support of their leader, Stamm cleverly comments that ‘Populism treats the people as mere extras: it wants its spectators to be passive’. Rocha’s film was consequently a major political influence, as Veloso has declared [p.197,Ella Shohat], in building Tropicália’s musical call to …show more content…
Whilst the regime’s Federal Council of Culture of 1966 presented folkloric culture as something to be preserved, Veloso and many of Tropicalist contemporaries revived it in their music as ‘a dynamic pastiche or "digestion" and “regurgitation”’ [Pardue, p.98] of the traditional. Similar to the violent revolutionary aesthetics of Cinema Novo, Veloso does not encourage physical violence but rather an attack on the traditional and static political system of 1960s Brazil. Niyi Afolabi comments that Veloso’s subtler attitude towards nationalism explains his ’popularity and Gil’s lack of recognition in the Tropicalist discourse, given Brazilians’ complacency in the arena of political and social change.’ Whilst the two musicians share many ideas of cultural synthesis and liberalism, Veloso also cites them as the building blocks of a new national identity whereas Gil adopts a more ‘citizen of the world’ attitude. Gil’s view, and his ‘lack of recognition’, is understandable when one considers nationalism’s domination of the Brazilian political

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