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  • Writer's pictureLucas Lima

How did MPB come about?

The genre is one of the most loved in Brazil and in the world

Photo: Reprodução

Overall, Brazilian culture is naturally diverse. And that, of course, also applies to the musical field. You may not even be the biggest fan of the so-called MPB (Brazilian Popular Music), but at some point in your life you will hear (or very likely have heard) talk about Chico Buarque, Maria Bethânia, Milton Nascimento and other pillars of this genre.


But how did MPB come about? To get into the subject, we have to make a brief time travel. Between the 18th and 19th centuries, the predominant styles of music in Brazilian lands were Lundu and Modinha, of African and Portuguese origins, respectively. The two styles influenced new trends in the 20th century, including Chorinho and, later, Samba, which was born in the tenements and hills of Rio de Janeiro.


All these styles have their particularities and, for the most part, they were popular. Even so, there was no "melting pot" where the rhythms were mixed. If you went to a Choro circle, it was Choro you would hear. The same was for Samba.


Still in the 20th century, from a derivation of Samba and American Jazz, Bossa Nova emerged. Also coming from Rio de Janeiro, the Bossa difference was the sophisticated and smooth aesthetic. From there came big names that are recognized worldwide until today, such as João Gilberto, Vinicius de Moraes, Tom Jobim and Roberto Menescal.


As not everything is flowers, the sophistication emerged by Bossa Nova caused a negative impact within the National Union of Students (UNE), which judged the style as elitist and bourgeois. The organization defended the exclusion of external influences in Brazilian music.


All this synthesis narrated so far was fundamental for the emergence of MPB, which was born precisely from a mixture between Samba, with a more popular aesthetic, and bossa nova. At first, this style of music was called MPM - Modern Popular Music.


We can cite as a starting point of the genre the historical interpretation of Elis Regina for "Arrastão" (Edu Lobo and Vinicius de Moraes) at the Brazilian Popular Music Festival in 1965, broadcast on TV Excelsior. From then on, the style gained both new names, such as Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Milton Nascimento, as well as incorporations into the sound, such as English Rock, Latin music, as well as other Brazilian styles, such as Forró, Carimbó, Choro and many others. .


The name MPB caught on in the early 1970s and was closely linked to the resistance movement against the Military Dictatorship, which lasted for more than 20 years in the country. MPB, for our happiness, remains strong as one of the most loved genres in Brazil and in the world, including the emergence of new great artists, such as Almério, Martins, Bruna Caram, Zé Manoel and many others.

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