The history of Brazilian music through its records

Di Cavalcanti, Serenade (1925) – Oil on canvas Private collection, SP.


Commentary on the recently published book by Pedro Alexandre Sanches

“Listen, my friend: a poet is not made with verses. It's risk, it's always being in danger without fear, it's inventing danger and always recreating at least greater difficulties, it's destroying language and exploding with it. Nothing in pocket and hands. Knowing: dangerous, divine, wonderful” (Torquato Neto. The last days of Pauperia).

The book by journalist and music critic Pedro Alexandre Sanches inaugurates the “Album Collection: The history of Brazilian music through its records” by Editora Sesc São Paulo, which will have a total of four volumes. According to the organizers, the collection proposes to build a robust showcase of our music, from the first albums that emerged with the invention of the long-lasting record (long playing) until the end of this media with the emergence of CDs and the subsequent hegemonization of the market by digital media, which dispensed with the physical support of the disc.

Covering musical production from the 1950s to the present day, the collection seeks, based on a careful chronological selection of fundamental albums from the most varied musical genres, to shed light both on the unavoidable classics as well as on unjustly forgotten albums, in a task that Sanches defined as a “diamond mine”. Still according to the author, the “album” format was taken as a “fragment of the cultural history of the country” insofar as it registers a “collection of memories, impressions about life and the world”, eternalizing in its material a “instant elusive”. In its “fine wavy writing”, we could state how records offer us “acoustic photographs”[I] that capture certain moments and make them perennial, transforming them into our constantly revived cultural heritage.

Curated by Sanches, the work fortunately does not share some trends observed in books of the genre, which sometimes try, without success, to carry out a complete inventory of the works and artists of a certain period in a kind of collection of hundreds of discs arranged in sequence. . When this occurs, little or no attention is given to the particularities of each one, causing the analysis to remain at the level of statistical superficiality. By assuming a distinct posture, of an archaeological nature, the recently released work reveals itself to be closer to an “album of albums” that strives for the quality of the selection, not for the piling up of disconnected information. As in the figure of the banquet with which Gilberto Gil referred to tropicália, we have here a treatment of the object that recognizes culture “as an extensive process, and not centralized. As a radiant process, not agglutinating”.[ii] In this first volume, we have a selection that covers from the first years of the history of LPs in the country to the profound transformations that took place in the early 1970s. The book also brings the original covers and the complete list of tracks for each disc, information that today is not always easy to find. Each album is followed by Sanches' commentary. In them, the author unravels the works mainly through the analysis and interpretation of the lyrics of his songs. In addition, he makes an effort to highlight the geographic and socioeconomic origin of the musicians, as well as considers the different musical movements of the time. Finally, it also brings relevant information about the place of albums in the trajectories of the musicians themselves, which helps to view the works as particular moments that cannot be taken as representative of an entire career.

However, the modus operandi de Sanches sometimes also hinders the reader from understanding the reasons for the importance of the selected albums. The author gives very little relevance to the musical material of the songs, creating a kind of gap that is difficult to overcome in order to appreciate the aesthetic meaning of the works. With this, I do not claim that the author “should” have prioritized such issues in his analysis, since the focus of the book and the audience for which it is intended are not consistent with a musicological and technical approach. However, more detailed considerations, even if general and in welcome simplified language, would greatly help the text to achieve its objectives. By ignoring the treatment of the dimension of melody, rhythm and harmony, almost every value judgment is restricted to the analysis of the lyrics and the positioning of the composers and interpreters. Furthermore, a secondary problem stands out when the author restricts his attempts to correlate specific works with the political, social and cultural context of his time to very few lines. Such questions are approached less than necessary, in view of the importance of the external dimension for understanding the internal musical material of each of the works, which in the face of the externality of the world always respond in some way - whether in a reactionary, revolutionary way or under the formula of conservative modernization, so typical of our lands.

The arrival of the LP in Brazil

The selection chosen in the collection follows the transformations undergone by the phonographic industry and the music production of artists with the rise of the LP in the 1950s. However, the prehistory of the phonographic record in Brazil begins much earlier. In 1902, we have records of the arrival of the first record in the country. Ten years later, the first pressing takes place in national territory, which would inaugurate the era of recorded music.[iii] Until the 1950s, the market would then be dominated by compacts, short-lived records that only allowed one or two tracks without each of its sides. This format would reign supreme through the Singles artists such as Carmem Miranda, Pixinguinha, Orlando Silva, among others.

The first long-lasting album to be produced in national territory was the album Native Brazilian Music (1942). However, this did not circulate in the country until the end of the 1980s, which reveals a lot about the phonographic market of the period. The new format was only established in the following decade, with Carnival in 'Long Playing' (1951), a collection of carnival songs. In those early years, however, the record had to live with the hegemony still exercised by compacts, given the long tradition they had in the country. In addition, there was still no consumer market capable of absorbing such changes, nor were there record players adapted to the LP. In the following years, large companies such as sinter and Odeon entered the national market, promoting this new phonographic niche. In the second half of the decade, with the development of 12-inch LPs, the emergence of more accessible portable record players and the emergence of a new consumer public - young people -, the new technology was finally consolidating itself as the main vehicle - in addition to radio, of course – the dissemination of Brazilian music.

The technological changes that resulted in the appearance of the LP also caused a profound change in the artistic and compositional logic that governed production. Now, the artists had before them the task of producing a greater amount of music to be released together, unlike the old ones. hits foreclosures from the previous period. Thus, it became necessary to establish between the different tracks of the albums some internal logic, even if minimal, that would guarantee unity and cohesion. According to Sanches, “the cookies” would now have to tell their own stories, in a long musical narrative with a beginning, middle and end.

First albums, compilations and releases

In the early years of the 1950s, however, artists had difficulty adapting to the new format, which is well demonstrated in the first chapter of the book. According to Sanches, the first LPs still reproduced the old model of singles, considering that most of them were limited to compilations of hits originally released on singles. In addition, “versions reminiscent of classics” of samba and other styles abounded. This difficult transition from the old guard to the LP is exemplified by Santa Rosa (1951), by Aracy de Almeida and The history of the Northeast in the voice of Luiz Gonzaga (1955), by the king of baião. Even linked to the old model, these records operated significant changes in the phonographic market, as such re-recordings and interpretations gradually moved away from the more traditional samba, giving their tracks a touch of modernity.

In the context of a country that was industrializing and urbanizing like never before, it is important to note how the modernization of the music market and its technology also contributed to the pulverizing of the former hegemony of samba, which was now crossed by the emergence of new styles and sounds, typical of a country that had millions of migrants in transit through its territory. Appearing at a time when so-called traditional music was giving way to “urban music of popular origin”, in the words of José Ramos Tinhorão, the record industry was simultaneously facing not only the challenges of the country’s technological backwardness, but also the avalanche of international music.

In the encounter between the different modernizing and traditionalist trends that permeated Brazilian music, the albums from this early period coexisted with the multiple heritage of the long history of samba and the dawn of bossa nova. According to Sanches, an example of such convergence is Nightly (1957), by Elizeth Cardoso – the first album to approach the concept of a musical album. Sanches takes it as a “symbol of national modernization in the field of music”, considering that it traced the initial lines of a new aesthetic, at the same time that it dialogued critically with tradition. Bringing both versions of consecrated sambas and compositions by Vinícius de Moraes and Tom Jobim, the album shows its power in the ambiguous place it occupied among those trends, with “one foot there and the other here”.

Bossa Nova and the Young Guard

According to Sanches, the real establishment of the album's format only materialized with the emblematic Chega de saudade (1959), by João Gilberto – which allows him to state that bossa nova was the first musical genre in the country to completely incorporate (at the same time that it was the driving force) the new media. Through the bossa nova musical aesthetics, the work of artists at the turn of the decade began to be predisposed by the length of time that the record was capable of reproducing, in a clear example of how the transformation of technique imposes profound changes on artistic practice – in this case , opening up new possibilities then unheard of in our musical history. Taking to the limit that ambiguity present in Nightly, bossa nova would make the contradictions between tradition and modernity the constructive material of its musical language. Although intoning a timid voice, João Gilberto embodied the noisy spokesperson in an absolutely original way of interpretation.

Rereading samba and proposing changes that transcended Brazilian music itself, based on the well-known influence exerted by jazz, bossa nova balanced itself between pure innovation and reworked tradition. This revolution, indelibly linked to the middle classes with an intellectual profile and with little insertion in other social strata, fit like a glove in the new LP format, which found its market niche precisely in such strata – which explains, in parts, why the bossa nova was so important for the consolidation of the album as a “work”.

Other productions of the period also flirted with this new language, although they added new layers to it that were now more receptive to rock influences, such as If by chance you arrived – The black bossa (1960), by Elza Soares, were sometimes more linked to traditional samba, such as More bossa with Os Cariocas (1963), by the eponymous vocal group. Faced with the myriad of changes during this period, Sanches does not forget about albums produced in other regions of the country, which reflected music that went beyond bossa nova. Examples of it are the discs Jackson do pandeiro (1959), by the eponymous artist and The gaucho heart of Rio Verde (1960), by Teixeirinha. Although they revealed, in their own way, a Brazil “lined with mutually attractive positive and negative poles”, such artists are still marginally labeled as representatives of traditional and/or regional music.

However, bossa nova was not the only one to contribute to the establishment of the LP in the country. As a counterpoint, Sanches presents us with Estupido Cupido (1959), by Celly Campello. Unlike bossa nova's mediated and constructive relationship with foreign influences, Campello's music assumed the posture of a “washed copy” of everything that came from “romantic and sweetened” rock. Taken as an index of the prehistory of the Jovem Guarda, the artist’s album is described as “without substance” – a characteristic that would also be found in Crazy for You (1961), by Roberto Carlos. In one of the fragile moments of his argument, when he weaves adjectives without justifying them, Sanches defines the album as “odd” and of little musical coherence. Even so, he is right to point out that although they circulated under the new format, such albums did not absorb that unitary idea of ​​a coherent work that pursues a certain concept, preferring to reproduce, in an impoverished way, a “balladization of the rock n Roll North American"[iv]. In its sameness, the “salad of rhythms” of the nascent iê-iê-iê already brought with it not only a conscious attitude of not proposing anything new or minimally Brazilian, but also already contained signs of the conservatism that it would embody.

This first period analyzed by Sanches ends with samba new scheme (1963), by Jorge Ben Jor. For the author, the album exemplifies the encounter between bossa nova innovation and samba updating, as it reformulates different influences in an unprecedented miscellany, ranging from samba to soul, thus inaugurating a properly hybrid genre that foreshadows the next revolution to be experienced in the country – that of tropicália. On the eve of another “revolution” that would be inflicted in the country the following year, Sanches notes how 1963 represented “the inventive pinnacle” of national musical production, with important releases by Tom Jobim, Baden Powell, Elizeth Cardoso and Wilson Simonal.

Bossa Nova dissidents and the invention of MPB

It was precisely during the 1960s that the very concept of “popular music” underwent its greatest transformation, the result of a process of corrosion that had been taking place since the end of the 1940s. folk music, with traits attributed as “authentic” and “original”. However, with the spread of radio and records over the following decades, mass music production imposed a new meaning on the term “Brazilian popular music”, increasingly linked to music consumed by urban classes and broadcast in different media channels.[v] Thus, despite the constant reinvention of the oldest styles of music in the country, such as sambas-canções, sertanejo and other pre-radio genres, bossa nova and its dissidents would inaugurate the so-called “modern Brazilian popular music”, raised to success with the spread of new rhythms and styles throughout the troubled 1960s.

When dealing with the intermediate years of that decade, Sanches highlights the different dissidences that emerged in the bossa nova project, emphasizing that many of them shared either a rescue of the formal structures of traditional samba, or focused on an allegedly more limpid aesthetic, linked to a Less complex musical language filled with social criticism, the so-called “protest song”. Among the representatives of the first trend of overcoming bossa nova, stand out Nara (1964), by Nara Leão and Maria Bethania (1965), by the homonymous artist – who, although never belonging to bossa carioca – dialogued with her in a critical way. The case of Nara, who was previously identified with that song, is emblematic. For Sanches, this album partially detached itself from bossa nova ideals by satirizing “the formal elitism and thematic frivolity” of that music, rescuing both attention to social issues and undertaking a “rescue operation” of traditional sambas. Through this constellation of “dissidences”, Sanches outlines the displacement of new sonorities that would lead to the “tropicalist invention”, which would recombine once more, but under a new figure, the negative and positive aspects of post-military Brazilian culture.

Although such dissidences took shape, bossa nova itself reinvented itself, either through new themes in its lyrics, or through a redefinition of its musical material. Emblematic of this moment are the Afro-sambas of Baden and Vinícius, which appear in Baden Powell at ease (1964) and in The Afro-Sambas of Baden and Vinícius (1966). At the same time that it approached the Afro-Brazilian universe, bossa (no longer so new) also developed its jazz side, as in Things (1965), by Moacir Santos and in New Quartet (1967), a group that had Hermeto Paschoal among its members. For Sanches, the latter were the expression of a “more acidic aspect of bossa nova”, exemplified in that particular hermetic combination between the bold freedom of the free jazz and the “incendiary arrangements” of Northeastern themes. Unique in the fusion of originally incommunicable musical styles, this music would have quite important developments, such as Natural Feelings (1970), by Airto Moreira and Hermeto (1970)

A trend closer to North American black music genres and their combination with national rhythms was represented in this period by the roguery of Wilson Simonal and other artists, who started to produce an extremely inventive “pop-jazzistic” sound, as in I will drop… (1966), by Simonal. Years later, this trend would have its own manifesto record, roguery (1970), by Carlos Imperial and 'A Turma da Pesada'. For Sanches, roguery would be fundamental for tropicalismo, insofar as it would take for itself the “proto-black power model” of the movement, “anthropophagizing it to convert it into tropicália”.

The reinvention of musical language also found fertile ground in the areas where music, cinema and theater intersect, as revealed in Sérgio Ricardo's album, God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun (1964), which featured the soundtrack of the homonymous film by Glauber Rocha, in addition to Arena counts zombie (1965), a collective production of the soundtrack of a play staged at Teatro de Arena in São Paulo. In both cases, Sanches identifies a production that is increasingly politically engaged and distant from the bossa nova spirit.

Expressions of a period of strong cultural effervescence on the left, the author echoes what Roberto Schwarz demonstrated in his classic Culture and politics, 1964-1968: some schemes, insofar as it underscores how these two albums can be taken as evidence of a culture that constituted itself as a politically active response to the institutional and social tragedy that was taking hold in the country, which finally “became unrecognizably intelligent” in an era where “it was another geological layer of the country who had the word”.[vi] Such works also revealed that search for a hybrid language, which dialogued with tradition, overcoming it, while at the same time endowing music with a communicative and informative role, “de-eliteizing” it. Throughout the 1960s, Sanches also points to the constant, albeit timid, renewal of samba, such as that new São Paulo expression represented by 11 o'clock train (1964), in which Demônios da Garoa plays Adoniran Barbosa. Furthermore, they stand out Clementine de Jesus (1966), debut album by the veteran singer from Rio de Janeiro and old people (1968), by Pixinguinha, Clementina and João da Baiana, an album that moves between choro, Afro-Brazilian lundu and other genres.

At the same time, among the forgotten records of the period, the albums The kings of the pagoda (1965), from Tião Carreiro to Pardinho, self-proclaimed representatives of cabocla and caipira music, and deny & dino (1967), by the homonymous duo, representatives of the “worst face of the youth guard”. Pierced by a martial tone, the album is an explicit example of those who embraced the military coup and peopled their songs with the boastful tone that called for the construction of a “new” country. Years later, rural rock would also contribute to this conservative-modernization, as in Rock Bravo came to kill (1970), by Léo Canhoto and Robertinho and in The Incredibles (1970), an album by the homonymous band that collected the remnants of the conformist heritage left by the young guard.

Tropicalismo and the protest song

Entering the late 1960s, Sanches turns the unavoidable Tropicália or Panis et circenses (1968), collective album that represented the tropicalismo manifesto. For the author, the album inaugurated this new movement in Brazilian music as it revealed in a new formulation the old duality between the archaic and the modern, in an artistic invoice in which “the bad parts of Brazil are deprioritized to produce new meanings and sensations” . The album prompted the release of several others who shared its principles, which was interrupted with the enactment of AI-5 and the consequent exile of part of its representatives, most notably Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil.

One of the indirect children of the tropicalist manifesto-album is Jorge Ben(1969). According to the author, this album represented a continuation of that hybrid trend in Ben Jor's work. However, now the musician brought together new genres in a distinct way, such as the Jovem Guarda, Tropicália and Pilantragem, constituting a work that itself results in a “manifesto of samba-rock mischievousness”. On the other hand, tropicália would also approach the language of psychedelic rock, in a more ironic and less politically engaged facet, as in Mutants (1969), by the eponymous band. Among the forgotten songs of the period, the tropicalist album stands out Tom Joe (1970), the contestatory Edu sings zombie (1968), by Edu Lobo and Behold the 'Ome' (1969), by Noriel Vilela, representative of a new expression of “Brazilian black power”.

Finally, Sanches skilfully shows how even the young guard of the period was influenced by tropicália, as in ronnie von (1969), which, although quite fragile from a thematic point of view, goes beyond that “unbridled” romanticism of Roberto Carlos, embodying bolder lyrics and harmonies. Surfing on other beaches, tropicália would also converge to roguery in Duprat's Tropicalist Band (1968), by Rogério Duprat, an album marked by a radical freedom in musical treatment, where at the limit “everything is allowed”. At these points, one of the qualities of the book becomes evident, namely, the recognition of the porosity between the different genres of Brazilian music. Thus, Sanches emphasizes the plasticity in the production of such musicians, who throughout their careers have experienced different “isms”, influencing others and being influenced by them.

However, Sanches' analysis of tropicalism also reveals one of the weaknesses of his work. Although it was not necessary to make this dimension occupy a central place, the author is little concerned with characterizing, even if minimally, the type of rupture made by tropicália in the face of tradition, in the same way that he does not stick to that kind of “ continuity in new terms” that could be found there. Although he makes numerous mentions of the political context of the time, such moments appear as “complements” that do not add much to the core of the analysis. Thus, the relationship between tropicalism and “Brazilian misery” and the echoes of the “1964 counterrevolution”, in Schwarz's terms, is not evident.

In addition, Sanches does not emphasize the strictly musical issues of tropicalismo, which are fundamental to qualify that previously mentioned rupture. The kind of relationship the tropicalists had with foreign music and the use of new instruments, for example, is overlooked – a point that, if explored, would help him to outline the differences between this posture and that of subservience of the young guard.

Even so, it is important to note that Sanches does not agree with the negative diagnosis attributed to tropicalism made famous by Tinhorão, who condemned it insofar as the “movement” would have brought strange influences to the national musical material and, thus, made alienation reign again "under the empire of rock".[vii] In this way, he escapes discussions about the “decadence of commercial Brazilian popular music” that would take him nowhere other than that of potentially reactionary preciosity for the “authentic” dimension. As Celso Favaretto argues in his consecrated Tropicália, allegory, joy, tropicalismo started from a fracture, namely, from an operation of passage from one state to another, through an “anthropophagic rite of references coming from tradition and from abroad”. Instead of copying what the rock and the electric guitars offered, the tropicalistas knew how to recognize that things were out of place and, for that, they needed to be mediated, thus making possible an “incessant movement of devouring that refuses to anchor itself in already fixed meanings”.[viii]

Absent from the book, the discussion about the historical significance of tropicália would also help the reader to understand the originality it represented, since it inaugurated a type of popular music that brought together “a high stylistic standard” and its dissemination through the “mass media”. .[ix] In these terms, commercial success was placed on a new level – it was no longer seen as necessarily an obstacle or a lowering of the artistic quality of the works, but as a condition for the success of that group's undertaking. By internalizing the advertising aspect in its production in a new cultural tactic, tropicalismo demystified the contradictions inherent in Brazilian artistic practice, and it did so insofar as it combined “violent social criticism” with “sharp commercialism”, always occupying that fine line " between critique and integration”. Thus, tropicalism subjected archaism to the light of the ultramodern, resulting in the “allegory” of country that Schwarz speaks of.[X]

Although it places it as one of the main aspects of Brazilian music in the years of uncertainty between the military coup and the AI-5, the book gives little space to the so-called “protest music”. Among the selected albums, the author presents us General Corner (1968), by Geraldo Vandré. According to Sanches, the album represented a departure from that bossa nova and tropicalist aesthetic, as it resumed a traditionalism in the way that prioritized the pedagogical role of lyrics, with a strong critical and engaged content, which were now addressed to the masses with strong political purposes. With the emphasis on the lyrics and their content, the protest song meant the reinvigoration of a striking trait of the entire Brazilian musical tradition, namely, the prominence of the lyrics in the formal construction of music – after all, we cannot forget that a good part of our musical history is the history of the song itself.

Although he exaggerates when he calls Vandré's album “anti-tropicalist”, Sanches is right when he marks the differences between these musical trends. Unlike the tropicalists, who invested in the modern character of their music, mainly in its formal aspects, related to the musical material, protest music placed itself at the forefront of criticism exclusively through its lyrics. Thus, the deconstruction of tradition was limited to what was said and emphasized. Ultimately, the protest song generated a “consolation effect” on the country's fate, outlining that “folklorization of underdevelopment” rejected by Caetano.[xi] Since its inception, musicians who identified with tropicalismo would distance themselves from that lyrical self of Vandré who apparently held the truth about Brazil and about “what to do”. As an eminently modern artistic practice, it was up to the tropicalists to dissolve the subject in order to multiply their voices, producing an undefined sensation of “plurisignificant sets”.[xii]

The black uprising of MPB

As he entered the 1970s, Sanches prioritized the albums of the so-called “Brazilian black power”, in what he sees as a late and artistically more elaborate development of Simonal's roguery, which still showed its face in Simonal (1970) and Toni Tornado (1972). By uniting a libertarian ideal of racial content and a new musical aesthetic, this new facet of the black uprising of MPB would find its main representative in 'Clube da Esquina'. In a choice that decentralizes the band's already well-known albums, Sanches lists the sometimes eclipsed Milton (1970), by Milton Nascimento and guests. Unlike the tropicalistas in exile, Milton and his colleagues from Minas Gerais reinvented the language of tropicália, occupying the place left by the diaspora of its main representatives. Collective in character, this new trend had hermetic lyrics and a constitutive musical hybridity that accepted the new and then reconfigured it.

Another facet of this moment can be accessed through the disc Tim Maya (1970), which although it made little appeal to black militancy in its material, reworked the motto “black is beautiful” in new terms. For Sanches, Tim Maia was largely responsible for radicalizing the influence of American soul in Brazilian music, at the same time that he “tropicalized” and “rogue” external influences. Following in its wake, the language of soul would approach that of samba not forgotten. Image and Sound (1971), by Cassiano. In a different tone, we have Elis Regina as a representative of a kind of “soulmusic white” with in the middle of summer (1970) and Ela (1971). In a rare moment when he explicitly exposes his personal preferences, Sanches names her, along with Tim, as the greatest modern singers in Brazil.

The samba-joia and the tacky song

In the last part of the book, Sanches lists albums representative of the reformulation of samba and the pejoratively called “samba-joia”, such as Samba is by law (1970), from 'Os Originais do Samba' and As the poet said... (1971), by Vinícius de Moraes, Marília Medalha e Toquinho, described as a collection of bossas with “morbo-romantic” traits. In relation to the first, the author emphasizes how peculiar it was in the early years of this decade that samba was reinterpreted by percussionists from carnival schools, who would rhythmically elaborate what would become known as “sambão de Partido Alto”. Even sharing the same tradition as other forms of samba, samba-joia was opposed to that traditional samba from the outset, seen as the most sophisticated and pure form of this music, exemplified by Clara Nunes (1971). Treated as “popular”, samba-joia ended up having the same fate as brega and tacky when it was marginalized in the history of music.

Attentive to those styles less considered by critics, but not by the public, Sanches sheds light on the albums Reginald Rossi (1971), the king of brega, This is me (1972), by Odair José and He also needs affection (1972), by Waldick Soreano. At this point in the work, however, we find Sanches appreciating a certain supposedly more “untouched” and “pure” dimension of music, in that old traditionalist sense of what “popular music” would mean. When commenting on the importance of tacky music for any musical historiography, the author states that, precisely because it was immensely popular, we should consider it “the real Brazilian popular music, much more than the so-called MPB”. Although he justifies his position as an attempt to “expose the viscera of a secular prejudice”, Sanches briefly falls back into a place that resets the debate about which music is more Brazilian, more original and, therefore, more authentic, in a value judgment strange and unnecessary to the spirit of his work.

In addition to the innovations of Milton Nascimento and the revival of interest in samba, Sanches points to a new phase of “tropicalismo”, exemplified by the albums Fa-Tal-Gal at Full Steam (1971), by Gal Costa and When the carnival arrives (1972), soundtrack of the eponymous film by Cacá Diegues, which features performances and interpretations by Nara Leão, Chico Buarque and Maria Bethânia. Sanches identifies how these albums are representative of the vacuum left by tropicália, since while they were based on that proposal, already transformed into tradition, they needed to continue looking for something new that was not tied to the already anachronistic context of the late 1960s. On the other hand, and with that Sanches closing the first volume of the collection, the influence of rock would take on new airs in the early 1970s. new level with Raul Seixas and the 'Society of the Great Kavernist Order' in 10 o'clock session (1971)

Brazilian general jelly

Album 1 – 1950 to 1972 presents a very fruitful and valuable selection of important albums in our musical history. For the general public, the book also provides a great opportunity to delve into the different strands, artists and moments of the rich national phonographic production. Although the book guarantees a good reading experience, the already noted absences regarding musical material and historical context are greatly missed. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that a book dealing with the “greatest albums” of our music chooses to abstain almost completely from commenting on the cover art of the works, an aspect that cannot be ignored in view of the importance of design. , photography and visual arts in the production of many of the albums. In addition, Sanches sometimes abuses the labels he assigns to certain “hybrid” albums, not clarifying what he means by “samba-rock”, “soul-samba”, or worse, when coining the little explanatory “samba-rock- crooked soul-funk”.

Despite such problems, Sanches' work reaches a qualified state of the art. By escaping from that “totalizing” impetus of musical compilations, the author exposes the different albums as a constellation of fragments worthy of being appreciated for the place, function and meaning they exercised and occupied in their original context. Although they are chronologically profiled, the book does not place the albums in a kind of unidimensional “linear evolution of music”. On the contrary, Sanches constantly emphasizes how Brazilian music was made up of trends and countertrends that simultaneously accessed tradition in countless ways and took a step further in the formulation of new sounds. Finally, the book helps to clear up the persistent discussion about the distinction between high and low culture. In the same tone defended by Antonio Candido when he deals with the penetration of the song form in all social strata,[xiii] Sanches approaches Brazilian popular music as organically dependent on the implosion of this polarization. The popular song, taken as a finished product of our tradition, breaks down these barriers and constitutes itself as a tangle of influences, audiences, traditions and bets.

The second volume of the collection, still without a release date, will cover the period between 1972 and 1978, in which, according to Sanches, the first signs of “a female uprising” appear in MPB. In this next book, “Brazilian hippie music”, “rural rock”, “experimentalism and desbunde”, the “new northeasterns” and other aspects of rock, funk and soul in our lands will also be explored. Thus, from volume to volume, we have strong indications to believe that this new collection will provide a new and invigorated “impressionist overview” of the history of Brazilian music. Finally, as stated in the tropicália manifesto album, the book in question introduces us to that 'Brazilian general jelly', at the same time 'resplendent, falling and fagueira'.

*Lucas Fiaschetti Estevez is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of São Paulo (USP).


Pedro Alexandre Sanches. Album 1 – 1950 to 1972: saudade, bossa nova and the revolutions of the 1960s. Album Collection: the history of Brazilian music through its records. São Paulo, Edições Sesc, 2021, digital book, 310 pages.


[I] ADORNO, Theodor. The shape of the disk. In: Musical Writings VI. Complete Work, 19. Madrid: Akal, 2014.

[ii] GILL, Gilberto. Facts & Photos, People, n.838, set. 1977.

[iii]SEVERIANO, Jairo; MELLO, Zuza Man of. A Song in Time – 85 Years of Brazilian Songs. Musical Ear Collection. São Paulo, Editora 34, 1998.

[iv]TINHORÃO, José Ramos. Social history of Brazilian Popular Music. São Paulo: Editora 34, 1998; p.335.

[v]BURNETT, Henry. Nietzsche, Adorno and a little bit of Brazil: essays on philosophy and music. São Paulo: Editora Unifesp, 2011; p.149.

[vi]SCHWARZ, Robert. Culture and Politics, 1964-1969: some schemes. In: The father of the family and other studies. Rio de Janeiro: Peace and Land, 1978; p.70.

[vii] TINHORÃO, José Ramos. Social history of Brazilian Popular Music. São Paulo: Editora 34, 1998; p.318.

[viii] FAVARETTO, Celso. Tropicália, allegory, joy. Cotia, SP: Ateliê Editorial, 2000; p.14.

[ix] BURNETT, Henry. Nietzsche, Adorno and a little bit of Brazil: essays on philosophy and music. São Paulo: Editora Unifesp, 2011; p.209.

[X] SCHWARZ, Robert. Culture and Politics, 1964-1969: some schemes. In: The father of the family and other studies. Rio de Janeiro: Peace and Land, 1978; p.74-75.

[xi] GONÇALVES, Marcos Augusto. Caetano Veloso challenges Brazil with “Alegria, Alegria” and argues that “the world belongs to Bartman”. In: Caderno +mais!, Folha de São Paulo, February 23, 1997.

[xii]FAVARETTO, Celso. Tropicália, allegory, joy. Cotia, SP: Ateliê Editorial, 2000; p.22.

[xiii] BURNETT, Henry. Nietzsche, Adorno and a little bit of Brazil: essays on philosophy and music. São Paulo: Editora Unifesp, 2011; p.162.

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