Brutality Garden

Brutality Garden: Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture

CHRISTOPHER DUNN
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 276
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5149/9781469615707_dunn
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  • Book Info
    Brutality Garden
    Book Description:

    In the late 1960s, Brazilian artists forged a watershed cultural movement known as Tropicalia. Music inspired by that movement is today enjoying considerable attention at home and abroad. Few new listeners, however, make the connection between this music and the circumstances surrounding its creation, the most violent and repressive days of the military regime that governed Brazil from 1964 to 1985. With key manifestations in theater, cinema, visual arts, literature, and especially popular music, Tropicalia dynamically articulated the conflicts and aspirations of a generation of young, urban Brazilians.Focusing on a group of musicians from Bahia, an impoverished state in northeastern Brazil noted for its vibrant Afro-Brazilian culture, Christopher Dunn reveals how artists including Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, and Tom Ze created this movement together with the musical and poetic vanguards of Sao Paulo, Brazil's most modern and industrialized city. He shows how the tropicalists selectively appropriated and parodied cultural practices from Brazil and abroad in order to expose the fissure between their nation's idealized image as a peaceful tropical "garden" and the daily brutality visited upon its citizens.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-1571-4
    Subjects: Music, Anthropology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-11)

    Every cultural complex has specific forms of consecration and adulation for its artistic luminaries. For Brazilian singer-songwriter Caetano Veloso, perhaps the supreme moment of popular and official canonization came on February 20, 1998, as he surveyed a crowd of five thousand carnival celebrants in Salvador, Bahia, while he was perched on top of atrio elétrico,a moving sound-stage that transports electric dance bands through the city’s streets. Since the early 1970s, he has made annual guest appearances ontrios elétricoson the morning of Ash Wednesday to perform his songs that have become standards of the Bahian carnival repertoire....

  6. 1 POETRY FOR EXPORT: MODERNITY, NATIONALITY, AND INTERNATIONALISM IN BRAZILIAN CULTURE
    (pp. 12-36)

    One of the most remarkable aspects of the tropicalist movement of the late 1960s was its sustained dialogue with several trends in Brazilian literary and cultural production of the twentieth century. The group of young singer-songwriters and their interlocutors in film, theater, visual arts, and literature responded to long-standing polemics over modernity and nationality, as well as to specific dilemmas of cultural production under military rule. Tropicália intervened in a constellation of debates surrounding popular culture and national identity that, as Renato Ortiz has argued, constitutes an evolving ‘‘modern tradition’’ in Brazil.¹

    The most salient point of reference for this...

  7. 2 PARTICIPATION, POP MUSIC, AND THE UNIVERSAL SOUND
    (pp. 37-72)

    The tropicalist movement coalesced toward the end of a tumultuous decade marked by the intensification of left-wing activism and a reactionary military coup in 1964 aimed at preempting any movement for radical social transformation. Debates over the proper role of the artist in relation to progressive social and political movements oriented much of the cultural production during this period. The 1960s also witnessed the consolidation of a national culture industry that sought to tap into consumer markets primarily in the urban areas. With the advent of military rule, the state invested heavily in mass media technologies in an attempt to...

  8. 3 THE TROPICALIST MOMENT
    (pp. 73-121)

    Within several months after Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso introduced the “universal sound” at the 1967 festival of TV Record, their music was dubbed “Tropicalismo” in the mainstream press. As noted in the introduction, the name of the movement referenced Veloso’s composition “Tropicália,” which in turn took its name from an installation by the visual artist Hélio Oiticica. The term was rich in connotations since it played on images of Brazil as a “tropical paradise” that date back to the letter written by Pero Vaz Caminha in 1500 to the king of Portugal relating the “discovery” of Brazil. Following Brazil’s...

  9. 4 IN THE ADVERSE HOUR: TROPICÁLIA PERFORMED AND PROSCRIBED
    (pp. 122-159)

    To fully appreciate the controversy generated by Tropicália, it is necessary to remember that many MPB artists, particularly the protest singers, maintained an ambivalent, if not antagonistic, relationship with the mass media. Sérgio Ricardo, the artist who was booed off stage at the 1967 TV Record festival, has provided insights into the tension between committed artists and media professionals. Moments before his disastrous performance, Ricardo remembers a backstage encounter with Paulo Machado de Carvalho, the station’s owner:

    In that dressing room corridor of the Paramount Theater, two antagonistic universes whose alliance had led to stagnation confronted each other. One universe...

  10. 5 Tropicália, Counterculture, and Afro-Diasporic Connections
    (pp. 160-187)

    As a collective project, Tropicália ended in December 1968, yet it inspired emerging artists and groups loosely identified with a “post-tropicalist” current in MPB. For the original Bahian group and their allies in Rio and São Paulo, the tropicalist experience continued to orient their work in a diffuse and nonprogrammatic fashion. With the Fifth Institutional Act and the hardening of military rule, the cultural and political context had been radically changed. Despite the context of repression and censorship, Brazilian popular music was arguably the most resilient area of cultural production. Artists identified with the second wave of bossa nova, many...

  11. 6 TRACES OF TROPICÁLIA
    (pp. 188-214)

    Throughout the seventies and eighties, the tropicalists remained acutely sensitive to the ongoing transformations and innovations in Brazilian and international musics. Their early experiments with electric instruments and rock music set the stage for a ‘‘boom’’ in Brazilian rock in the 1980s. Their creative appropriation of reggae, disco, soul, juju, and Afro-Bahian forms contributed to several Afro-Brazilian musical movements during the same period. The tropicalists also contributed substantially to the dissolution of cultural hierarchies by producing music for mass consumption while making use of literary and musical techniques formerly associated with the realm of “high art.” They have developed a...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 215-234)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 235-246)
  14. DISCOGRAPHY
    (pp. 247-248)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 249-256)