This paper aims to demonstrate how the final form of the 1921’ piano piece The Little Cardboard Cat (O Gatinho de Papelão) arises from manipulations and transformations of the Brazilian traditional song Anquinhas, in a dialogical compositional process.
The Rio de Janeiro-based personality, essentially a self-taught composer, lived out of the mainstream of generative centers of avant-garde movements at the turn of the twentieth century. His nationalistic traits started to reflect in his compositions since 1912. Melodic manipulations and reharmonizations of traditional Brazilian songs appealed for the national imaginary in a very personal way featuring an idiosyncratic trait of the composer’s creative personality.
For our particular case, the transformations imposed to the popular song Anquinhas are essentially motivic and harmonic, as predicted in Arnold Schoenberg’s Fundamentals of Musical Composition. These transformations result in a very particular version of the popular song that is utilized to configure the whole B section of The Little Cardboard Cat. Then, in a retrograded compositional procedure, Villa-Lobos manipulates intervallic and rhythmic components drawn in the section B to map the whole A section creating an intrinsic network of interconnected elements.
We can consider that the final well-balanced binary form of The Little Cardboard Cat is a synthesis of a dialogical proccess created by opposition of forces represented in one side by elements from the original popular song and in the other by the transformed ones.