Date of Completion


Embargo Period



A Prole do Bebê, Villa-Lobos, analysis

Major Advisor

Dr. Peter Kaminsky

Associate Advisor

Dr. Alain Frogley

Associate Advisor

Dr. Ronald Squibbs

Field of Study



Doctor of Musical Arts

Open Access

Open Access


This dissertation investigates by means of musical analysis the compositional techniques used in the Prole do Bebê n. 2 by Heitor Villa-Lobos. Chapter 1 of the dissertation presents an introductory overview of the composer’s life and works, discussing crucial circumstantial factors influencing the composition of the two volumes of A Prole do Bebê, including some issues regarding the dating of the pieces. Chapter 2 describes in general terms the style of the pieces. A crucial issue is that this music features a high level of dissonance and little use of triadic construction, resulting in the general avoidance of conventional voice leading and harmonic progression. Therefore a good part of the analysis is an attempt to understand the use of dissonance, and the motivations for certain choices of pitch constructions. Two structural aspects are considered specifically: texture as a compositional means of superimposing simpler pitch collections to create complex resultants; and the topography of the keyboard as a determining element in pitch choice. Nevertheless, there remains a vestigial – sometimes subtle, at other times strong – sense of “tonality” manifested by directed bass motion, voice leading, and various means of expressing tonal centers. The broad, free tonality is investigated by analyzing the vestigial tonal traits and by mapping background key areas in relation to the formal design and other structural features. The use of tonal folk materials with extreme freedom is also investigated. The following three chapters contain a detailed analysis of three representative pieces from the collection, respectively: numbers 1 (A Baratinha de Papel), 6 (O Boizinho de Chumbo) and 9 (O Lobozinho de Vidro). These analyses serve to inform other analyses of works of Villa-Lobos, as well as to inform the performance practice of the work. This dissertation should be of great interest to performers, historians and theorists.