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3.6 – the composer, the songwriter and the grays in between

I present below one of Sérgio Assad’s answers during an interview given in English to a foreign journalist. In that interview, the composer and guitar-player presents ideas that have ended up constituting another point of support for the conception of the present project, this turn from the perspective of the sole guitar connected with the written tradition. The answer obtained by reading the official site of Duo Assad [i] meets aspects of “the question of Tatit” and points to the fertility of the existing “grey shades” between the universe of the “composer” and that of the “songwriter”. Those shades represent important orientation for the guiding line of this study.


DOUG YOUNG (Journalist)

Is there some quality that makes a great composer?


I think there are two different worlds.

My teacher in Brazil used to say, “A composer is a composer, a songwriter is a songwriter.”

You don’t need to be a good melody writer, for example, to be a good composer.

You can learn the tools, and know so much about colors and orchestration that you can compose pieces that are quite strong without having a talent for melody writing.

And there are many examples of great songwriters who didn’t know much about music.

But it’s not black and white. There are greys in between.


The terms in English were spontaneously used in several moments of the dialogues, like in the one that follows below with Marco Pereira:



00:00 the guitar that accompanies the voice

01:03 creation process of the songwriter


01:15 the composer and the songwriter

02:34 Villa-Lobos and Tom Jobim

There is some poetry in here,

but despite all Jobim’s trajectory as arranger,

and all the symphonic potential of his pieces,

I feel it as a song, within this simple aesthetic,

which is translated by a voice and a guitar

without missing beauty and integrity [i]

  1. Text available at

  2. LINK with the same idea also mentioned in – 1.2 – a guitar that meshes with the song