Re: Would someone care to translate this Os Mutantes song?

can...@xxxxxxxxx wrote:

> I would still dearly love to have an English translation. :)

That's impossible. Arnaldo Baptista's website says as much:

For the album 'Tecnicolor' (recorded in 1970 and released in 1999), the
Mutantes translated most of the songs into English, "except, obviously
for the concretist and untranslatable 'Bat Macumba.'"

I don't think it's a translation you want, but an explanation.

In typical Tropicalia fashion, the title "Bat Macumba" combines the
north American pop value of Bat Man with the Afro-Brazilian
spiritualist value of macumba. The songwriters then proceed to
deconstruct it syllable by syllable.

Below are three additional commentaries on the song and its influences.
You can no doubt find more on the Web by putting Google to work.


Daniella Thompson on Brazil:
The Magazine of
Brazilian Music & Culture

Musica Brasiliensis



Bat Macumba Oba! A anti-letra da canção
Ana Cristina Fricke Matte

Instituto de Estudos da Linguagem - Universidade Estadual de Campinas

Abstract. The Brazilian song Bat Macumba, from Gilberto Gil, strongly
represents the Tropicalist vanguard movement, whose main characteristic
to re-think the musical language itself. Even its lyric does not speak
about the
song's language, this song is a kind of meta-song because of its
resources with
few verbal motivation. Almost independently of its litteral sense, it
the meaning by sonorous manipulation or its strophes like was used to
do the
concrete and modern poetry, based in the repetition of done values
token off
and returned with new and brilliant senses. The analysis of this song
a reflection about the place of the meaning in the popular song and
about the
semi-symbolic systems in the popular Brazilian song studies.

[Ana Cristina Fricke Matte's scholarly article in Portuguese follows on
the same page]


Some of the most interesting songs on the [Os Mutantes] album, however,
are the silliest ones. [...] "Bat Macumba" is grooved-out garage rock
that plays palindrome spelling games with the song's title.

A passage from a deleted chapter in Julian Palacios's book "Beck:
Beautiful Monstrosity":

It was 1967 in Brazil. As the military tightened its grip on freedom,
the youth rebelled. The repressive regime of General Artur de Costa e
Silva sparked off student protests. One form of that rebellion was
music. Tropicalia was a spontaneous movement in culture and music,
typical of the sixties. Its two leading figures were Gilberto Gil and
Caetano Veloso. Veloso said, 'Tropicalia was a bit shocking we came up
with new things that involved electric guitars, violent poetry, bad
taste, traditional Brazilian music mass, low class successful music,
kitsch, tango, Caribbean things, rock and roll and also our
so-called serious music.' ('Cry of Conscience' by Scott Adams, Arete

Tropicalia also made great use of Brazilian modernist concrete poetry,
particularly that of Brazilian poet, Oswald de Andrade (1890-1954).
Andrade was a guru for the movement, conspicuous by his physical
but omnipresent in his influence. Andrade's 1924 manifesto 'Pau Brasil'
called for Brazilians to become cannibals of culture. To eat the West,
the East and expel it as something wholly Brazilian; cultural

For music that sought to incorporate chaos, much of Tropicalia was well
structured and thought out according to dictates of concrete poetry,
rigour of the avant-garde and magnificent orchestrations. The
song 'Bat Macumba' strung together words in joyous abandon around a
tight structure, each verse dropping words until the middle word was
'bat' and then rebuilt word by word to the end, making a bold,
emblematic 'K' when written on paper.