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MPB: Musica Popular Brasileira
Eclectic Brazilian Popular Music That Spans Genres

Canta Brasil: Great Brazilian Songbook, # 1

Canta Brazil

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What Is MPB?   Brazilian Major MPB Figures

Some MPB Samplers

Brazil Now

Brazil Now

Recommended MPB sampler with Os Paralamas, Carlinhos Brown, Marina, Leila Pinheiro, Luiz Melodia, Lo Borges, Nana Caymmi, Eliane Elias, Clara Nunes, Bragada, Paulinho da Viola, Milton Nascimento, Djavan and Elis Regina.

Canta Brasil: Great Brazilian Songbook, # 1

Canta Brazil: The Great Brazilian Songbook

There are many compilations of Brazilian pop (MPB) for beginners in US record stores, ranging from downright awful to OK. This one has all the biggest names (Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Milton Nascimento) and better-than-average selections from each. It's important to know what you're getting: quality popular music from the 70s and 80s by the Brazilian equivalents of Barbara Streisand and James Taylor, not the latest Afro-Brazilian Axe dance bands or traditional folk music. A good intro to the Brazilian singers who have stood the test of time and are cultural icons across generations. If I had to choose between this album and the similar "Beleza Tropical" compiled by David Byrne, I'd choose this one.  --an Amazon reviewer

Some Leading MPB Figures

Geraldo Azevedo

Jorge Benjor (Jorge Ben)

Maria Bethania

Joao Bosco

Chico Buarque

Dori Caymmi

Nana Caymmi

Gal Costa


Gilberto Gil


Ivan Lins

Edu Lobo

Ney Matogrosso

Milton Nascimento

Elis Regina


Alceu Valenca

Caetano Veloso

More MPB

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What Is MPB?

In late 1960s and early 1970s, a new group of composers and musicians came into prominence in Brazil. Their music was dubbed MPB, an acronym that stands for "Música Popular Brasileira." It refers to a whole generation of artists such as Edu Lobo, Geraldo Vandré, Elis Regina, Chico Buarque, Milton Nascimento, Dori Caymmi, Simone, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Maria Bethânia, Gal Costa, Alceu Valença, Geraldo Azevedo, João Bosco, Ivan Lins, and Djavan.

MPB can refer to Brazilian popular music in general, but it has become a common way to refer to these performers, whose music defies easy categorization. It is intensely eclectic, varying greatly in style from artist to artist, and developed from a collision of bossa nova, regional folk music, protest songs, samba, rock and roll, the Tropicália movement, and other influences. These elements were mixed together in such a way that the final result can not be placed into any particular genre such as bossa, samba, forró, or rock. Instead, it is a new category, and MPB has proven to be a convenient label for it.

An especially important characteristic of MPB songwriters is their keen ability to combine compelling melodies, rich harmonies, varied rhythms, and poetic lyrics. The popular music that they created from the 1960s through the 1980s is among the best ever produced by one generation in any country in the world. Most of the leading MPB musicians gained national fame in a series of music festivals that began in the mid-1960s and coincided with the early years of a brutal military dictatorship that would rule Brazil for twenty-one years.

Excerpted from The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova and the Popular Music Of Brazil (Temple University Press, 2nd edition, 1998)
© Chris McGowan & Ricardo Pessanha, 1991 - 2009

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