4 Characteristics of Tropicalism

Tropicalism was a musical movement that took place between 1967 and 1969 during the military dictatorship in Brazil. It became a milestone in Brazilian music after the release of the album Panis et Circenses with the participation of several artists.

The movement assimilated the concept of anthropophagy, uniting elements of international music with elements of Brazilian popular music.

Historic context

The movement came after Bossa Nova and Jovem Guarda , which transformed Brazilian music.

In response to conservatism and the advance of music with a foreign identity, tropicalism was nourished by the movements and influence of groups, such as the Beatles , the Rolling Stones , the Woodstock Festival and hippie culture, to mix them with elements of the Brazilian popular culture.

military dictatorship

It occurred during the consolidation of the Military Coup (1964-1985) being a response to moral conservatism, cultural, social and political control and censorship (AI-5) exercised since 1965.

It is considered a movement of resistance to the alienation proposed by the State for social and political control.


1.     countercultural movement

Tropicalia broke with the bourgeois cultural structure, predominantly under the foreign influence that we can identify in Bossa Nova and Jovem Guarda.

It was a response to what was considered conservative and retrograde, through a new way of producing music, considering new values, behaviors and thoughts.

2.     Innovation

hippie movement , which proposed a new parameter of behavioral freedom, sexual and spiritual freedom.

In this way, in addition to innovative music, the movement’s artists transmitted a new way of behavior.

3.     Rebellion

Response to society’s disagreement with the conditions imposed by the military dictatorship and the spread of conservative morality.

4.     Of mixed race

With the success of international groups and festivals, the Tropicalistas added samba and bossa nov to other sounds, such as the electric guitar of European culture and the berimbau of capoeira, which represented a part of Brazilian culture.

Miscegenation occurs through the appropriation of the country’s own culture added by trends from other cultures that became popular around the world.

These characteristics establish an innovative sound in the country’s musical scene that subsequently influenced the development of Brazilian Popular Music.

Main objectives

  • Innovation of musical aesthetics: the main objective of the Tropicalistas was to develop a new musical aesthetics considered revolutionary in itself, since it broke with the retrograde and conservative ideals proposed until then.
  • Liberation and revolution: the songs added, in their essence, the message of liberation from conformity, to what seemed stagnant, proposing a thought that sought the liberation of social contexts and a revolution of political concepts.
  • Political and social criticism: despite not being an openly declared objective by the artists who were part of the movement, the compositions highlight criticism of the Military Dictatorship and conservative bourgeois morality, making use of humor and irony in an aesthetically pleasing way. elaborate and critical.

Tropicalism, at its core, turned out to be a movement of innovation through aesthetics and resistance to the context in which it developed.

Main artists

Although the movement lasted only a few years, big names in music that we recognize today were linked to the performers and composers. Here are the main names:

  • Caetano Veloso
  • Gilberto Gil
  • Gal Costa
  • Maria Bethania
  • Tom Ze
  • The Mutants
  • Torquarto Net

These artists contributed to the revolution and transformation of the young figure in the country. They were responsible for important songs that recorded the Brazilian mestizaje in the sixties.

The end of tropicalism

It is considered that the movement came to an end with the imprisonment and exile of its two main figures: Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso.

Both were exiled by the Brazilian military government from the United Kingdom, where they spent about 12 years. Caetano was considered the founder and Gil his main follower and partner in the movement.