Letters from Brazil

So you want to know a little bit about Brazil. That's good! It's a HUGE topic, and because of that I will focus on what I think is one of the most beautiful and interesting things that we have around here: our music. Is that OK for you? I hope so! Let me try to give you a glimpse of that and as much as possible, connect it with some context. Let's start!

Brazil was invented in 1494, through the Treaty of Tordesillas, where an imaginary line was established, 370 leagues west of Cape Verde. This line divided the recently discovered land between Spain and Portugal, but the first Portuguese would only arrive 6 years later. Usually scholars will consider music from Brazilian everything that happens after the arrival of the Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral, in 1500. Other than the Europeans, we will have a very strong migration of Africans, through the slavery traffic. So because of that, what you will find in our music is a VERY strong influence of European and African melodies, harmonies and rhythms.

These 500+ years of history will be ignored on a very chronological way of following it. I will take the year of 1960 as a starting point. It's not totally arbitrary. That is the year when our capital (Brasília, not Buenos Aires) was founded. Please keep in mind that before 1960, the capital was Rio de Janeiro, since the arrival of John VI, in 1808. This information will be important to understand why Rio was (and still is) important for the Brazilian cultural scene.

Said that, I’ll start showing you 4 main categories from the 60's: Jovem Guarda (Iê Iê Iê — Yeah yeah yeah), Tropicália, MPB (Música Popular Brasileira — Brazilian Popular Music) and another one that I’ll generalize as “Folk”. Because this letter is already long enough, let me send you one song for each of these categories, just to give you a taste.

The first one is a sample from the first version of Rock made in Brazil. A movement called Jovem Guarda. Singing this song, the most iconic singer, consider "the king", Roberto Carlos.

Roberto Carlos — Quero que vá tudo para o Inferno

For a lot of people, the "real" Brazilian Music is the MPB. So, the sample will be the second most played song in the world, Garota de Ipanema.

Vinicius de Moraes & Tom Jobim — Garota de Ipanema

At some point, some guys decided to mix MPB and rock. They created the Tropicália movement.

Gilberto Gil (& Os Mutantes) — Domingo no Parque

And to finish this letter, one of the greatest Brazilian musicians, called Luiz Gonzaga. He made songs about the country-side of Brazil. Specifically, the northeast part of it.

Luiz Gonzaga — Asa Branca

Let me know what do you think about it! If you tell me which one you like the most so I can write the next one. Isn't it a good idea?

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