Transforming Brazilian Speech into Popular Song: An Interview with Luiz Tatit
Tamara Courage and Albert Elduque
Abstract: In this interview, Luiz Tatit explores some specificities of Brazilian popular song which may explain the considerable success of music documentaries in the country. Such specificities include the connection between popular song and daily speech, its ties with Brazilian national identity and its complex relationship with foreign music styles. The interview was held telephonically on 9 April 2020.
Luiz Tatit (São Paulo, 1951) is a Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the Faculty of Philosophy, Languages and Literature, and Human Sciences at the University of São Paulo (FFLCH-USP). For decades his research, which interweaves semiotics and musicology, has been focused on the structure and the style of Brazilian popular song. Books such as Semiótica da canção: Melodia e letra (Semiotics of the Song: Melody and Lyrics, 1994), O cancionista: Composição de canções no Brasil (The Song Composer: Composition of Songs in Brazil, 1996) and O século da canção (The Century of Song, 2004) include an innovative close reading of song lyrics, but also reflect critically on the evolution of music styles, thus providing a complete and multifaceted analysis on twentieth-century Brazilian musical traditions.
Tatit has also consolidated a career as a distinguished singer and songwriter, both as a founding member of Grupo Rumo (1974–), which played a key role in São Paulo’s avantgarde musical scene in the 1970s and 1980s (Vanguarda Paulista), and as a solo artist from the late 1990s onwards. His musical work provides an excellent complement to his academic publications, because both are equally concerned with the relationship between speech and song and with Brazilian musical traditions.