Tropicalia : revolution in sound

Listen to the full documentary on BBC Radio 4 here ...


Burning brightly for only few years in the late 1960s, and politically inspired by the uprisings in Paris in May 68, the Tropicalia movement electrified Brazilian music, combining the sophistication of bossa nova, samba and baiao with psychedelia, new Beatles-inspired electric sounds and orchestral experimentation.

It was a deliberately subversive mix that provoked the country's military regime and led to the exile and imprisonment of some of Brazil's star musicians.

Tropicalia brought a new wave of liberation and energy into Brazilian music. Earlier in the decade, bossa nova had captured a mood of national optimism but, as the 1960s wore on, the political situation darkened.

Bixiga, São Paulo

The military junta, in power since 1964, was drifting into open repression - the arts would be censored, musicians targeted, imprisoned and exiled.  In 1969, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso were exiled by the military dictatorship and their years in London influenced Brazilian – and British – music for ever. A new, more combative approach was called for.

Veloso and Gil London

Based around a core group of musicians - Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, the group Os Mutantes, singer Gal Costa and Tom Ze - Tropicalia was a mash up of styles which drew on the country's deep roots but pushed the sound elsewhere, radically. Harvesting influences from inside and outside Brazil, drawing especially on Western rock, classical orchestration and electronic effects, Tropicalia parodied, mixed and sampled global styles.


Listen to the full documentary on BBC Radio 4 here ...