MPB Day, by Fred Coelho
“When we talk about MPB, we must always remember what the acronym tells us: music that is popular and Brazilian, that is, which originates from a specific territory spanned by the diversity of its culture.” READ MORE
On October 17th, we celebrate the Brazilian Popular Music Day, in honor of the birth of composer Chiquinha Gonzaga (1847-1935), a pianist, maxixe musician and composer from Rio de Janeiro, one of the forerunners of our music. We invited writer and researcher Fred Coelho to create an MPB playlist and share some words about this theme that is so dear to us Brazilians:
“When we talk about MPB, we must always remember what the acronym tells us: music that is popular and Brazilian, that is, which originates from a specific territory spanned by the diversity of its culture.”
“The acronym established itself in the late 1960s, becoming synonymous with popular songs in Brazil over the next two decades. The genre’s history, however, is longer than the acronym itself. It is connected to the tradition of the urban composers of modern sambas in the 1920s and 1930s, to the Radio Era in the 1940s and to the Bossa Nova revolution. From the sonic and literary vocabulary created during those times, MPB must also be understood as a meeting between young university students who listened to tradition and to musical styles from Northeastern Brazil and from the African diaspora, such as the baião, the xote, the samba de roda, the afoxé or terreiro music. This meeting of diverse sounds coalescing into a commercial format made Brazilian music simultaneously a success with the people and a critical force in a generation that produced both hit parades and political anthems. The great established names in the genre coexisted with artists who made innovative works, treating Brazilian popular music as one of the best finished aesthetic products from our culture to the world. Even though today it isn’t as simple anymore to understand the limits of the term – almost everything sung in Portuguese can be considered MPB – popular songs, their striking melodies, their harmonies and the poetry of its creators still make an impact on new generations and are still a defining part of our musical soundscape – whether in rap, in Brazilian funk, in sertanejo or in other contemporary styles. The list, therefore, is a tribute to the musical creations that, throughout all these years, were part of the personal and national imagination in Brazil, with a poetic and critical legacy that continues to expand to this day.”
Fred Coelho is a researcher, professor, essayist, writer and a great lover of music. He has the taste and talent for making the most diverse playlists, always accompanied by thought-provoking text.
In 2020, he published the book Jards Macalé - Eu Só Faço O Que Quero (Jards Macalé – I Only Do What I Want), as well as Eu, brasileiro, confesso minha culpa e meu pecado (I, a Brazilian, confess my guilt and my sin) (2010) and A semana sem fim – Celebrações e memória da Semana de Arte Moderna de 1922 (The endless week – Celebrations and memories of the 1922 Modern Art Week) (2012).