Apr 5, 2020

Jobim's "Gabriela" and Villa-Lobos' Prelude #5

Listening to the Villa-Lobos guitar Preludes the other day, I noticed a familiar theme in Prelude #5: The opening melody matches the main theme in Antonio Carlos Jobim's music for the movie "Gabriela" (1983, with Sonia Braga and Marcello Mastroianni, details here). Here's the Villa-Lobos:

Here's the Jobim theme, in a short version sung by Gal Costa:

It's common knowledge that Jobim thought highly of Villa-Lobos (who doesn't?), and Jobim certainly is known to have borrowed from other musical sources, from Chopin to Gershwin to Debussy.

The movie "Gabriela" was based on the 1975 Brazilian telenovela "Gabriela." The 1975 show had a theme by Dorival Caymmi:

Researching this post led me to some very pleasant listening! The Villa-Lobos Preludes, of course. I also found the full movie soundtrack, with a lot of great Jobim music I hadn't heard:

You can hear some fragments of Caymmi's theme embedded in the Jobim soundtrack.

Another Villa-Lobos borrowing in Jobim's soundtrack is a musical sequence that evokes the pattern of the berimbau. Villa-Lobos does this in Prelude #2 (at 0:58) :


Jobim uses this device at 0:59 in the movie soundtrack, above.

The movie character Gabriela is from the Northeast of Brazil; the berimbau is associated with capoeira, a martial art/dance that is also associated with the Northeast. Here's a nice introductory explanation:

Here's a concert performance of "Gabriela" by Jobim and his "Banda Nova" (Montreal, probably1986). The theme begins at 4:06, the "Northeast" music at 6:54.