Art is a universal language. Music, as a part of art, is also a language that crosses cultural and ethnic boundaries and connects different people through expressive and receptive communication. Some psychologists distinguish a kind of language called “subconscious”: understanding of the word’s meaning without speaking the language initially. After watching A night in 67, I understood that my subconsciousness can determine words, phrases and even whole sentences. Disregarding the fact that I was not very well aware of Brazilian culture, I still was able to enjoy the music, let myself get absorbed into the atmosphere of this musical documentary and allowed Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Roberto Carlos’s performance to impress me.
I watched A night in 67 in Wexner Art Center on Valentine’s day. The romance which was in the air that evening helped me to notice one important thing: the documentary was not simply about the interviews with TV Record’s 3rd Festival of Brazilian Popular Music contesters as I had expected, but was soaked with love and passion. Love towards music and Brazilian culture, people’s passion about what they were doing. I have always believed that love can fight all the world’s difficulties and mitigate all the world’s pain and sorrow. I had found its proof when watching the documentary. Since the festivals’ vocal and partisan audience stood up as a society which bucked against the yoke of military rule, a 1967 event was the one who had climaxed into creating a revolution. It eventually changed Brazilian music, all due to the performers’ passion and audience’s love towards their national musical art. A Night in 67 is one of the documentaries that works with archive footage in a more traditional sense, making extensive use of images shot in their eras and borrowing them from public or private audiovisual collections. Musical documentaries that revolve around the lives of famous composers and various different events are meant to get the public acquainted to the history of Brazilian popular music and provoke their interest towards this sphere of musical art. I believe, the documentary I watched successfully achieved this purpose.
Having read some information about Musica Popular Brasileira, I also learned that it is not a name for the genre which unites different music styles and is “popular” at the certain time. On the contrary, MPB is viewed to be a movement or a trend (Maguire), and is applied to the non-electric music that emerged at the same time with Bossa Nova. So, while the latter denotes itself as a separate musical genre, Musica Popular Brasileira was created in order to assert a national form of music by playing on traditional Brazilian vocals and acoustic style. Interesting, that samba music was considered the music of the poor at first. Though, taking into consideration the abolishment of slavery in 1888, when poor families migrated to Rio and brought with them African-Brazilian religions and various musical rhythms which later became incorporated into this kind of Latin music, it becomes clear that the lower class of society is the main one to influence its cultural roots. For example, it is documented that Musica Popular Brasileira arose and developed in urban as well as rural areas and includes many anonymous songs, which is a sign for folkloric music (Lahue)
It is also a very significant fact that MPB was influenced by African, Indian and European culture brought by immigrants. Such blend made the sound we know now as Latin American tune, and I find it very amusing how three different nations equally contributed to something as dynamic, bright and energetic as samba. It shows how important the international cooperation is not only in scale of business, political and economic communication, but in the sphere of making art and perfecting each one of its components.
However, A night in 67 also made me think about how deeply the music of a certain period is influenced by the political events of that time. Considering that the Brazilian cultural environment of the late 60th was influenced by the contradiction of a leftist armed opposition to the military regime, it comes as no surprise that the youth of that time put their effort into contemporary production and took music as their outlet to express their thoughts, ideas and desires. It shows the young generation of this nation as determined and ambitious people, who stop at nothing to achieve their goals. The due respect has to be paid to the young activists: instead of putting a lot of strength into riots and armed demonstrations, they were able to turn the contemporary music into the reflection of their mood and intentions.
The fact that the music of 60s deeply influenced not only Brazilian culture, but the world music culture as well is a proof of how the most important changes are made through peaceful ways rather than via armed riots. Riots may have a faster result in the short-run, but the beliefs they are based on are extreme, which is why they are fast gone. What matters most is a national identity reflected in its common views and expressed in the form of “subconscious” language I talked about earlier, which brings the society together and unites it through the difficult or revolutionary times.
Unfortunately, I have to admit that I know nothing about musical culture of my native community in 60-70s. I will of course try to fulfill this blank as soon as I get a chance, because I have gained a full understanding of how important it is to be aware of the cultural development of your native community in order to be looked at as its worthy representative.
Looking at the scenes of archival interviews with the participants of the MPD finale, I thought it was truly fascinating that disregarding the fact of the footage being very rare; the filmmakers could nevertheless make an agreement with Record Entertainment (the owner of the original footage’s rights) and get them to share the materials. It enabled the filmmakers to present the audience with an amazing documentary. It perfectly blended historical scenes and interviews of that night’s heroes. Moreover, the lack of editing and polishing the scenes, keeping the whole performances authentic and original, only added up to the atmosphere of historic preservation of the era. I am glad for this nation that they have the evidence of their cultural appraisal and development. After all, it is very important to look at the events we would never be able to attend with our own eyes and then hear the reminiscences of those directly participating in and living through that crazy night in 67. Although the filmmakers deleted some interviews, the documentary turned out to be great, which proves that the important thing is their quality and not quantity.
Overall, my impression from A night in 67 is very positive. Coming to this event as a blank sheet in the field of Brazilian music, I now have a newly gained desire to investigate this and my own nation’s music culture. I saw how much other people liked the documentary, and I very appreciated the filmmakers’ contribution to getting such unaware public as myself acquainted with this period in music development. I am also sure that the fans of Brazilian music had something new to see as well, with how brilliantly the harmony between historical and modern insight into this music was maintained.
Considering the fact that Brazilian music was still unfamiliar to a majority of American listeners in late 80s, I believe that this event indicates the raise of the overall Brazilian Music awareness. Some LPs [LongPlay records] sold as many as half a million copies in Brazil, while the range was usually 5,000 to 10,000 in the United States (Stewart). However, it is good to know that Brazilian music has maintained its consistent profile over the past few decades.
All countries have their unique history, mentality and culture. Nevertheless, when it comes to the world’s culture, which Brazilian music of late 60s is a significant part of, it is understandable that every self-respecting person should know at least something about this era. After all, we are all members of a global community and have to respect every part of which it consists. Thankfully to this event, I have gained a desire to learn more about my own country’s past, and I think it is one of the most important impacts some documentary can have on a person.
Lahue, M. (2006) Os sonhos não envelhecem. Article: Brazilian Popular Music – Música
Popular Brasileira (MPB). Published on 16, Novermber, 2006. Web.
Retreived on 20, February, 2014:
Maguire, S. Global Arts Central. Quick guide to Musica Popular Brasileira. N.d. Web.
Retrieved on 20, February, 2014:
Stewart, Z. (1987) Los Angeles Times. MAKE WAY FOR BRAZILIAN SOUND : Musical
Published on 26, October, 1987. Rertieved on 20, February, 2014: