It has been a hot topic in Bartók literature whether he followed some particular order, or relied on creative intuition when he composed. His own statem ents appear to be ambiguous, that is, he occasionally stressed that he consciously worked out his musical language, but on other occasions he emphasised the role of intuition. A contrapuntal short piece from the Forty-Four Duos, namely no. 37 “Prelude and Canon”, can be considered an appropriate material in order to examine how these different viewpoints are applied in an analysis (and to evaluate how appropriate the application of these viewpoints is). From a technical point of view, the Canon part of this piece deserves special attention, as it contains three different types of canon one after another. While the dux always remains in E, each comes is on different degrees (G, A, then B) and different temporal distances (one, two, and three crotchets). This can be regarded as a kind of compositional virtuosity; especially because it is not easy to write such canons on an original theme, much less on an original folk tune. Thus, this piece might be considered an example of how Bartók rationally and consciously worked out his compositions. Such a view can be refined, or possibly superseded by the examination of the original folk tune. The genre of the original folk tune, “párosító” [matchmaking song], as well as the way of its actual performance on the original recording gives us an insight into how an apparently systematic application of the compositional technique is nevertheless related to what we would call a secret programme. Thus, it was probably not only a particular folk song but also the people's life surrounding the folk song which fascinated the composer, and he tried to vividly encode a typical village scene into a piece of art music.