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3.4 – the question of Tatit

The present project had its inaugural interview in the second semester of 2011 with Luiz Tatit — Associate Professor at the Linguistic Department – University of São Paulo, where he develops a study on Semiotics tools applied to the analysis of the popular song. In this interview, he poses questions that are central:



That is my curiosity:

1) To know what musicians-instrumentalists see.

2) And whether they are aware that intoning units in fact are what they admire.  

Because when “intoning units” are mentioned, the idea of “melodic units” is understood — or that the point is the sound of words, alliterations, and so on — but this is secondary.

The question lies in the speech itself.

In order to get to that it is necessary to establish affinity and a certain quantity of talking about the issue.


Tatit’s first curiosity about “what the musicians-instrumentalists see” has oriented and decisively stimulated this research in the sense of weaving the crossing of speeches stemming from different musical experiences, which is the essence of this study.



May I ask a question

that Tatit has “requested” me to ask a musician?


Sure. Go ahead.


I am just passing it along.

His question is about that character, the conductor who keeps being given the sambas.

The years 1930s, at the radio station door, Jobim himself did that for some years,

writing down the melodies that, many times, the sambistas composed “in the head”.


Yeah, writing them down in scores.


In order to create the arrangement, because at a certain point that would happen


I know, the songwriter sang the melody

The conductor would write the melody down, cipher, and then arrange it.


Yeah. Tatit’s question is:

“Why would the conductor, who knew so much about music,

be waiting for the songwriters’ themes? Why wouldn’t he himself write the themes?”


But he did.

Jobim after that period in which he worked as an arranger he did.

00:00 it’s not the technical knowledge that makes a song

Now, there’s also something else,

it is not the technical musical knowledge that makes someone make a good song.

That’s why I asked you if this study of yours includes this more crawling thing in the popular song.

I, for instance, don’t know how to make a song.

I don’t know how to write something in the form of a song. [i]

I can make thirty songs per day if I want, I do it profusely.

But to make that one that really flows in the vein is another point,

and the main finality of a song.

00:36 the “song-form”

01:22 popular song


Radamés Gnatalli’s advice directed to João Bosco clarifies the point that the conductor highly praises abilities that are intrinsic to modes of transmission linked to orality, and therefore, to the figure of the “songwriter”. This positioning ends up complementing the answer to the question formulated by Tatit.



00:00 I have never studied music…

00:58  talk with Radamés Gnatalli –  I just wanted to play my guitar


The dialogue with Luiz Tatit in the first interview [i] , which was the starting point for the research, had an in-depth moment in 2015, when the second interview takes place, in which we realize an update [i]  in Tatit’s view on the central theme approached by this study — that is, exactly the relation, specially fertile in Brazil, between the properties intrinsically vocal – yoked to the word – and the instrumental matter, or more specifically the guitar matter.

In chapter 3.7 – Sometimes the guitar brings the melody – there is a part of the second interview with Luiz Tatit, taken just after closing the book text, which is an interview that reached a special dynamic and justifies our purpose to make it available soon in its whole on this site. The interview poses another question: how much would the discussion gain in-depth if it returned once again to each of the interviewees?

  1. LINK with the “Lied form” presented in – 6.4 – the writing moment – in the quotation of Zamacóis.

  2. Track 9, recorded on that occasion, is available on TRACKS FROM THE BOOK.

  3. LINK with the idea “Luiz Tatit updates and deepens his perception about the theme” in 3.7 – sometimes the guitar brings the melody.