Gilberto Gil and Tropicália

Alongside Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Tom Zé, Nara Leão, Os Mutantes, Rogério Duprat, Torquato Neto, and others, the musician was part of a movement that questioned politics and revolutionized music.

By Instituto Gilberto Gil

Text: Chris Fuscaldo, journalist and music researcher

Gilberto Gil em apresentação na década de 1960 (Década de 1960)Instituto Gilberto Gil

To Southeastern Brazil

In January 1965, Gilberto Gil left Salvador for São Paulo State to work as a trainee at Gessy Lever. After a short time living in Campinas, he moved to São Paulo city and started dividing his time between the office and his music.

Gilberto Gil, Jair Rodrigues e Elis Regina no programa O Fino da Bossa (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

TV Success

Early in 1966, Gilberto Gil made an impression on the TV show O Fino da Bossa, which was presented by Elis Regina and Jair Rodrigues, and broadcast by Record TV. This success earned him a contract for an album with Philips Records. Gil left his job at Gessy Lever and set out to earn his living from music.

Gilberto Gil em apresentação na década de 1960Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil em apresentação na TV Excelsior (1966)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil se apresenta em emissora de rádio na década de 1960 (1966)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil em apresentação na década de 1960 (Década de 1960)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil, Jair Rodrigues e Elis Regina no programa O Fino da Bossa (1966)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil, Walmor Chagas e Raul Cortez no show Momento 68 (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Louvação
00:00

Gil Leaves Brazil

After recording his first album, Louvação, Gilberto Gil appeared in the Momento 68 show, sponsored by the textile company Rhodia. The company invested in events combining fashion shows with concerts, and launched its Brazilian Fashion Foolish collection at Momento 68. 

The show was directed by Ademar Guerra and produced by Otávio III, with music arranged by Rogério Duprat. It also featured the actors Walmor Chagas and Raul Cortez, the musician Caetano Veloso, and the singer Eliana Pittman...

...as well as texts written by Millôr Fernandes and choreography by the dancer Lennie Dale. The show was also later taken to Portugal and Spain.

Gilberto Gil no espetáculo Momento 68 (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil, Arnaldo Baptista, Caetano Veloso, Rita Lee, Nara Leão e Gal Costa em evento de lançamento do disco Tropicália ou Panis et Circencis (1968-08-07)Instituto Gilberto Gil

The Tropicalistas

The Tropicália movement was born out of avant-garde artistic influences in the 1960s, combining expressions of Brazilian culture with foreign elements. Among those considered founders of the Tropicália movement were the musicians Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Tom Zé, Nara Leão, José Carlos Capinan, and Jorge Ben, the group Os Mutantes, the conductor Rogério Duprat, and the poet Torquato Neto.

Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Caetano Veloso, Jorge Ben e os Mutantes (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil comments on the Os Mutantes group and their influence on the tropicalist movement
00:00

Caetano Veloso e Décio PignatariInstituto Gilberto Gil

Influences

Gil and Caetano were voracious readers of poetry, opinion pieces, and stories, and this had a considerable influence on their songwriting. The pair even got to meet some of their idols, including the poets Mário Lago and Décio Pignatari (photo). 

Caetano Veloso e Décio PignatariInstituto Gilberto Gil

Besides writing poetry, Pignatari was also a publicist, actor, essayist, teacher, and translator who liked to mix poetic language with visual references and fragmented words. He founded the aesthetic movement of concrete poetry with well-known poets Augusto and Haroldo de Campos

Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso e Mário Lago na década de 1960 (1967)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil talks about the influence of concrete poetry from São Paulo on his compositions
00:00

Gilberto Gil no casamento de Torquato NetoInstituto Gilberto Gil

Contracapa do álbum Tropicália ou Panis Et Circencis, de Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Mutantes, Tom Zé, Nara Leão, acompanhados dos poetas Capinam e Torquato Neto e do maestro Rogério Duprat (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Working with Caetano

Of all the Tropicálistas, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso were the ones who worked together most often and this made them the movement's leaders and main figureheads. From the time they were both living in Salvador, they had always stimulated each other's creativity. 

Capa do álbum Tropicália ou Panis Et Circencis, de Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Mutantes, Tom Zé, Nara Leão, acompanhados dos poetas Capinam e Torquato Neto e do maestro Rogério Duprat (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Once in São Paulo, they wrote a lot of songs together, including Bat Macumba, which featured on their collective album Tropicália: ou Panis et Circencis. Released by Philips in 1968, the album was a collaboration involving Caetano, Gil, Gal Costa, Os Mutantes...

Contracapa do álbum Tropicália ou Panis Et Circencis, de Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Mutantes, Tom Zé, Nara Leão, acompanhados dos poetas Capinam e Torquato Neto e do maestro Rogério Duprat (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

...Tom Zé, and Nara Leão, and also featured the conductor Rogério Duprat, as well as the poets Torquato Neto and José Carlos Capinan.

Gal Costa na estreia do programa Divino Maravilhoso (10/28/1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Divino Maravilhoso

As well as being a song by Caetano, Divino Maravilhoso became the title of a weekly show for the TV Tupi network. It was directed by Fernando Faro and Antônio Abujamra, with novelist Cassiano Gabus Mendes working on picture editing. 

Caetano Veloso na estreia do programa Divino Maravilhoso (10/28/1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Presented by Gil, Caetano and Gal Costa, it aired from October to December 1968. Divino Maravilhoso caused controversy because it was an unscripted live broadcast that allowed the singers to do whatever they wanted in front of the cameras. 

Gilberto Gil e os músicos tropicalistas Jorge Ben Jor, Caetano Veloso, Rita Lee, Gal Costa, Sérgio Dias e Arnaldo Baptista na estreia do programa Divino Maravilhoso na TV Tupi (1968-10-28)Instituto Gilberto Gil

In one scene, Caetano Veloso was locked in a cage eating bananas and raising his legs. Caetano, Gil, and Gal also used the program to introduce new Brazilian talent such as Jorge Ben and Jards Macalé. Nara Leão, Os Mutantes, Beat Boys, and others also made guest appearances.

Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso e Gal Costa (1967)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil talks about Caetano Veloso and his ideas for the Tropicália movement
00:00

Gilberto Gil e Caetano Veloso à época do Tropicalismo (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil talks about the contribution of Tropicália to his cultural formation
00:00

Gilberto Gil em apresentação no programa do ChacrinhaInstituto Gilberto Gil

Caetano Veloso no programa do Chacrinha (1968-04-09)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil durante o período da Tropicália (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Tropicália Style

Once immersed in the world of music, Gilberto Gil set about establishing his own style. He became a visual and fashion icon, and has continued to change his look throughout his life.

Gilberto Gil durante o período da Tropicália (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil durante o período da Tropicália (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil e seu banjo na década de 1960 (Década de 1960)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil durante o período tropicalistaInstituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil e Roberto Carlos no programa Jovem Guarda (1967)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Rock Fusion

Tropicália, or Tropicalism, became known as the movement that mixed rock and Brazilian music. In the early days, soon after he first arrived in São Paulo, Gilberto Gil took part in a protest against the electric guitar with fans of bossa nova and Brazilian Popular Music (MPB)—two genres in which the acoustic guitar is the predominant instrument. 

Gilberto Gil e a banda Os Mutantes à época do movimento tropicalista (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

But when Gil met the group Os Mutantes (who were huge fans of The Beatles) and listened to Caetano Veloso, he changed his mind and embraced the fusion with rock. 

Gilberto Gil e Roberto Carlos no programa Jovem Guarda (1967)Instituto Gilberto Gil

 The other Tropicálistas were huge fans of the singer-songwriter Roberto Carlos and other iconic figures from Brazil's second rock movement, known as the Jovem Guarda (Young Guard).

Gilberto Gil e Sérgio Dias em show realizado com Caetano Veloso na Boate Sucata (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso e Os Mutantes em show na boate Sucata (Outubro de 1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil em show na década de 1960 (Década de 1960)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil em apresentação na década de 1960 (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil em apresentação na década de 1960 (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil em apresentação na década de 1960 (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Passeata dos Cem Mil nos tempos de ditadura militar, da qual Gilberto Gil participou (1968-06-26)Instituto Gilberto Gil

One Hundred Thousand on the Streets

The Tropicália movement came about during a turbulent time in Brazilian politics. Brazil had been under a military dictatorship since 1964. The coup d'état—or the 1964 Revolution, as the Brazilian military referred to it—had closed down the government of democratically elected President João Goulart, or Jango as he was often called. 

Passeata dos Cem Mil nos tempos de ditadura militar, da qual Gilberto Gil participou (1968-06-26)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Censorship was a feature of the new government. Police repression reached its peak in late March 1968 with the raid on the student restaurant Calabouço, where students were protesting against the rising price of meals. 

Gilberto Gil na Passeata dos Cem Mil (1968-06-26)Instituto Gilberto Gil

During the raid, an 18-year-old student died when the police shot him point-blank in the chest. His death led to one of the largest protests of the time, the March of the One Hundred Thousand, which was the number of people it brought out onto the streets in Rio de Janeiro. 

Passeata dos Cem Mil nos tempos de ditadura militar, da qual Gilberto Gil participou (1968-06-26)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Organized by the student movement, the demonstration took place on June 26, 1968, with artists like Gilberto Gil joining the people in protest against the military government.

Passeata dos Cem Mil nos tempos de ditadura militar, da qual Gilberto Gil participou (1968-06-26)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Passeata dos Cem Mil nos tempos de ditadura militar, da qual Gilberto Gil participou (1968-06-26)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Passeata dos Cem Mil nos tempos de ditadura militar, da qual Gilberto Gil participou (1968-06-26)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Passeata dos Cem Mil nos tempos de ditadura militar, da qual Gilberto Gil participou (1968-06-26)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil em show do segundo álbum de estúdio (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gil on Record

Released in 1965, Procissão was Gilberto Gil's first official single for Philips Records. In May 1967, the singer-songwriter made his debut album, Louvação, for the same record label. The album sees Gil reviving his Northeastern roots, focusing on rhythms like baião, and celebrating bossa nova and samba. 

Gilberto Gil e o maestro Rogério Duprat em estúdio de gravaçãoInstituto Gilberto Gil

The album also raises questions about social issues, religion, and the government's views. Less than one year later, in March 1968, the record label released Pega a Voga, Cabeludo, the first single from his second album, which came out in May.

Gilberto Gil, Rogério Duprat e outros em estúdio de gravaçãoInstituto Gilberto Gil

Officially titled Gilberto Gil, it was also widely known as Frevo Rasgado. Produced by Manoel Barenbein, this album was more rock and roll in style, with arrangements by the irreverent conductor Rogério Duprat. 

Capa do álbum Gilberto Gil, de Gilberto Gil (1969)Instituto Gilberto Gil

 The Gilberto Gil album became one of the most important of the Tropicália movement and, in 2007, Rolling Stone Brazil magazine included it in its top 100 albums of Brazilian music.

Gilberto Gil e o maestro Rogério Duprat em estúdio de gravaçãoInstituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil em show do segundo álbum de estúdio (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil em show do segundo álbum de estúdio (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil em show do segundo álbum de estúdio (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil em show do segundo álbum de estúdio (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil em show do segundo álbum de estúdio (1968)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Credits: Story

Exhibit credits

Text and research: Chris Fuscaldo
Editing: Chris Fuscaldo
Assembly: Patrícia Sá Rêgo
Copyediting: Laura Zandonadi

General credits
Editing and curation: Chris Fuscaldo / Garota FM
Research - music: Ceci Alves, Chris Fuscaldo, Laura Zandonadi and Ricardo Schott
Research - Ministry of Culture: Carla Peixoto, Ceci Alves and Chris Fuscaldo
Subtitles: Anna Durão, Carla Peixoto, Ceci Alves, Chris Fuscaldo, Daniel Malafaia, Fernanda Pimentel, Gilberto Porcidonio, Kamille Viola, Laura Zandonadi, Lucas Vieira, Luciana Azevedo, Patrícia Sá Rêgo, Pedro Felitte, Ricardo Schott, Roni Filgueiras e Tito Guedes
Data editing: Isabela Marinho and Marco Konopacki
Gege Produções Review: Cristina Doria
Acknowledgements: Gege Produções, Gilberto Gil, Flora Gil, Gilda Mattoso, Fafá Giordano, Maria Gil, Meny Lopes, Nelci Frangipani, Cristina Doria, Daniella Bartolini e todos os autores das fotos e personagens da história
All media: Instituto Gilberto Gil
*Every effort has been made to credit the images, audios and videos and correctly tell the story about the episodes narrated in the exhibitions. If you find errors and/or omissions, please contact us by email atendimentogil@gege.com.br

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Google apps