I admit – to simplify the entirety of Brazilian history to the life and career of Gilberto Gil would be quite a reductive gesture. Even if he is doubtlessly, one of the most accomplished artists of his generation, his artistic and political path must be seen as a mirror to the that of the beautiful country of Brazil, which he has helped to construct and by which he has been constructed. He can be seen as a figure in Brazilian history and music either as a hybridized prodigy or an explosive cocktail, who gave new energy and culture to the musical scene.

But first, a bit of patience! Before we continue onto the life of Gilberto Gil, some historical light must be shed onto the nature of his inspiration, which is in fact our primary subject here. Let us lose ourselves in the history of Brazil, the backdrop to our story, and the spatial and temporal context that surrounded Gil in a cultural, artistic, and political sense. In order to speak of Brazil, I had to look into my own history, searching for the elements which would allow me to relate to the history, people, and culture of this country.

Brazil’s African heritage was the historical and cultural bridge that I took, as a way ofunderstanding his identity, as well as of identifying the struggles, dreams, and hopes so well evoked by Gilberto Gil the artist, and defended by Gilberto Gil the political activist. Gil was born in northern Brazil in the city of Salvador, in the state of Bahia, where the greatest number of African slaves had been deported to work in sugar plantations. At this time, the Portuguese colony still prospered from slavery – the dark past of its upset social balance, which also gave rise to the culture Gil came out of. Indeed, the rhythms of the Afro- Brazilian tradition reveal a very African musicality. We shall add, as a detour, that the genres of bossanova and samba came out of this same tradition…

我不得不承認 ,將巴西全部的歷史,簡化為吉爾伯托˙吉爾 (Gilberto Gil) 個人的生活與志業,不免有過度簡化之嫌。即使,他無疑是他那個年代中最有成就的藝術家之一,他的藝術與政治之路,也還是必定會被視為巴西這個他所形塑、也形塑了他的、美麗國度的寫照。在巴西的歷史與音樂中,他既可以被當作是一個混血的奇才,又可以是一杯嗆辣的調酒,給予了樂壇新的能量與文化。



巴西的特性,並且找出了那個身為藝術家的吉爾伯托˙吉爾所深深誘發的,和那個身為政治狂熱份子的吉爾伯托˙吉爾所汲汲捍衛的掙扎、夢想、與希望。吉爾出生在巴西北部的巴伊亞州,一個名叫薩爾瓦多的城市,有為數最多的非洲黑奴,曾經被驅逐到那裡種植甘蔗。當時,巴西這個葡萄牙的殖民地,仍舊因為奴隸的制度而繁榮興盛,而那一段社會動盪不安的不堪歷程,反而帶給了吉爾伴隨著他成長的文化。的確,非裔巴西人傳統上的節奏,展現了十足非洲的音樂性。我們應該在此附帶一提,波莎諾娃 (bossanova) 和桑巴 (samba) 這一類的風格,也出自於相同的傳統……

Brazil is a “mestizo,” or mixed society, which has always been particularly heterogenous. Ethnic diversity has been key to the development of its culture and history, rich with various influences: from its African roots, to its Portuguese assumption, through to its Indian integration. It was in this musical context of distinct postures and styles that Gilberto Gil was able to reach his greatest artistic potential in the form of the Tropicalia movement, or “Tropicalismo.” Gil and his collaborator, Caetano Veloso, were the precursors and visionaries of an entire cultural revolution in Brazil, which aimed to establish a sense of universality through music. This approach allowed Gil and Veloso also to integrate a more Western, or “rock n roll” sound to their musical style. Suddenly, Gil was truly able to flourish as an artist, pushing both his own limits and his Afro-Brazilian determinism to new horizons. However, this change did not come about without difficulties. As his work was precipitated by the political riots which ravaged Brazil throughout the 1960’s, Veloso and Gil were persecuted by the military government for their ideas and forced into exile. It was only then, one might say however, that the Tropicalia movement was truly put into practice. In the context of the global moral revolutions of the time, it increasingly took on a hippie association, and reggae-like tonality. London, a center of reggae, gave Gil the opportunity to collaborate with the various Jamaican influences resonating through the English capital. From his African roots in a Portuguese colony, Gil was able to develop his style and compositional skills by enriching them with the different global musical styles of his time.

Another part of the legacy of Gil’s career which has profoundly resonated with me is his carnal attachment to his native country and his culture, despite his receptivity to outside influences throughout his musical evolution. To understand the strength of his tie to Brazil, I shall invoke for a moment here my own city, Montpellier, where I myself have spent my best years, and to which I pay tribute …

巴西是一個 “mestizo”,也就是一個混合的國家。因此,巴西也總是有特別多元的種族。種族的多樣性,一直是巴西的文化與歷史發展的關鍵,而且也富於各種影響力:從非洲人的落地生根、到葡萄牙人的奪取殖民、再到印第安人的集結融合。也正是在如此獨特的姿態與風格的音樂背景之下,吉爾伯托˙吉爾才能夠以 Tropicalia風潮,或稱為 “Tropicalismo” 的形式,發展出他最大的藝術潛力。吉爾和他的合作伙伴卡埃塔諾˙維羅索 (Caetano Veloso),可說是巴西整個文化革命運動的先驅者,以及夢想家,他們透過音樂,致力於創造出一種遍及全民的感動。而這樣的方式,也讓吉爾和維羅索在他們的音樂風格之中,加入了更為西方,或者是「搖滾樂」的音樂元素。忽然之間,吉爾真的變成了一個茁壯的藝術家,他將自己的極限,以及他身為非洲裔巴西人的宿命,推向了一個全新的境界。然而,這樣的改變並非輕而易舉。由於他的作品可說是在整個60年代,蹂躪了巴西的政治騷動之下的產物,有不同思維的維羅索與吉爾,於是遭到了軍政府的殘害,並且被迫流亡。一直要到那個時刻,人們才會說,Tropicalia風潮真的付諸實現了。當時,在全球那般道德革命運動的背景之下,也逐漸出現了更多的嬉皮,以及更多雷鬼樂之類的曲風。作為雷鬼樂重心的英國首都倫敦,提供了吉爾與在當地引領風騷的許多牙買加音樂人合作的機會。從葡屬殖民地的非洲根源開始,吉爾匯入了當時全球豐富多樣的曲風,進而發展出自己的風格與作曲的技巧。

儘管,吉爾在音樂的發展上,接收了外來的影響,在他的生涯中,另一個讓我深感共鳴的傳奇,就是他在身體上和祖國與文化的深深依存。要瞭解他和巴西之間緊緊相連的力道,且讓我在此回想一下我的城市蒙彼利埃 (Montpellier),我在那裡度過了自己最美好的年代,我要向它致敬……


Ordem e Progreso

Let us then take a small flashback (or, should I say, a huge leap backwards) to the city of Montpellier in the south of France in 1798. In this year, Isidore Marie Auguste Francois Xavier Comte was born, and would die later in 1857. But what is the relevance of this Montpellerian to this artist we hold in such great admiration, Gilberto Gil? Auguste Comte, as he came to be known, was an illustrious mathematician and philosopher of his time, who developed and structured a philosophy that we now refer to as Positivism. To truly explain Positivism, however, would require more time and a certain spiritual disposition in order to reflect on the relationship between the self, the world, and the universe, each of which radically alters the social condition of man. “Auguste Comte, scientific reformer, aims to reconcile the ancient and the modern in an attempt to construct a peaceful world which is organic and truly rational, founded on the new social order of “positive sociology” – otherwise known as sociocracy, whose formula is as follows: “Know in order to foresee, and foresee in order to act.” I invite you, dear readers, to continue in your own reflection of the heart and spirit, especially in relation to the three mental states defined by Comte: the theological, philosophical, and theoretic. These constitute for him the logical evolution of the human condition, and the ways it relates to history.

What further draws our attention is his way of theorizing society, of which he said, “Society is formed essentially of families, which outweighs in the individual all which does not belong to the family. The truth of society therefore, is not be found in the individual – the truth of individual is to be found in society.” Sociology, as a natural human science, is what informs us of the social order of a certain place at a certain time, showing that “the only absolute is that there are no absolutes.” Sociology also teaches us that no social order and exist or continue without consensus. The first consensus is the family, the second propriety (therefore, work) and the third, patrimony.” – Auguste Comte

Ordem e Progresso

那麼,讓我們倒轉一下(或者,我應該說是快轉)到1798年法國南部的蒙彼利埃 (Montpellier) 這個城市。在那一年,伊西多爾˙瑪麗˙奧古斯特˙弗朗索瓦˙澤維爾˙孔德 (Isidore Marie Auguste Francois Xavier Comte) 在蒙彼利埃出生,而他在之後的1857年過世。但是,這個蒙彼利埃人,和眾所欽佩的藝術家吉爾伯托˙吉爾之間,究竟有何關連?「奧古斯特˙孔德,也就是後來大家對他的稱呼,是當時傑出的數學家和哲學家,他發展與建立出我們現在稱為實證主義的哲學理論。如果真的要解釋清楚實證主義,就要花費更多的時間,並且得在心靈上做一番的調整,以便思索自我、世界、和宇宙之間的關係,而其中的每一個部分,都將會徹底地改變一個人的社會條件。作為一個科學的改革者,奧古斯特˙孔德致力於調和古老與現代,以便建構出一個有組織、真正理性、基於「實證社會學」之新社會秩序的和平世界。而實證社會學又稱為全民政治,它的理論公式如下:「為了預知而瞭解,為了行動而預知。」親愛的讀者,讓我來邀請你,繼續在你的身心上反省,特別是在孔德所定義下的三種心理狀態:神學上、哲學上、以及理論上。這些狀態,構成了他在人類生存條件上的邏輯進化理論,以及與歷史連結的方式。



This precept of order is fundamental to the understanding of Brazilian society and its citizens,including Gilberto Gil, for it was on this philosophical ground that Brazil was founded. The Brazilian flag is decorated with the proclamation of the Brazilian Republic in 1889 – “Ordem e Progresso.” This is the very motto of positivism, coined by the philosopher from Montpellier: Auguste Comte.

“People act on their emotions, and not on reason. Still, the human being possesses inherent altruistic tendencies which can be developed through religious practice. This very idae can be described by the motto of positivism: Love as a principle, order as the basis, and progress as the goal.” Auguste Comte.

Returning to the topic of Gilberto Gil, and setting up this Brazilian decor as the cultural background to our understanding, we can better recognize the political influences which have led this artist to become much more than the voice of Brazilian music, but even the political voice of Brazilian culture, when he was appointed Minster of Culture in the cabinet of “Lula” – President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva from 2003 to 2008.

Gilberto Gil – a man, a voice, a culture, a heritage – my conclusion is complete, and culture continues to sing and dance…





Sanza Bulaya

Translation – Ritz Wu