“Compose oneself for compose”: songwriting workshop

  • Kaos Day Care Center PolisUmbria
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This workshop is about a technique of music therapy termed “collective songwriting”, experimented by me for many years now in mental health settings to treat psychiatric illnesses including psychosis and autism in both adults and adolescents. The objectives of the experience are: to promote personal redefinition through the discovery of resources that become skills, to perceive themselves as an author, to realize songs as a communication tools with the external world. Collective songwriting is an articulated process whereby music and lyrics produced by patients help with teasing out their healthy parts which are stuck and not easily accessible. It is a space to discover how the authentic communication of music contains vital, powerful and liberating elements of poetry. “It is a work about something or someone inside us that wants desperately to be” (Marina Cvetaeva).It is organized in a structured setting in which a group of twenty observers is arranged in a circle around the circle of the group of ten composers. The process starts with the composing of music through a session of free vocal improvisation. This is followed by active-imagination production, associated with the articulation of the verses, and it ends with the elaboration and the choice of a title, guided discussion between participants and conclusion.

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... The phrase "composing oneself to compose" (Volpini, 2016) summarizes the path that patients follow in their therapeutic and rehabilitative treatment. Every member of the group, with their unique emotional and linguistic vocabulary, can make their own creative contribution. ...
Songwriting is commonly utilized in the clinical treatment of psychiatric patients suffering from a wide variety of psychoses. CareMusLy (CML) is a psychodynamic, systematically applied intervention combining music and lyrics to counteract and redefine the problems created by the psychotic dimension. The process starts from a free collective vocal improvisation, during which the music therapist transcribes scattered notes and from which he subsequently composes a piece of music. This composition, when played back to the participants, stimulates a slow, meditative search for words using Heidegger’s concept of the poetic thinking (see Heidegger, M. (1988). La poesia di Hölderlin. Milano, Italy: Adelphi). Engaged in a kind of slow-moving game played out over a long timeframe, patients experience a sense of belonging to the song but do not perceive the strain of the psyche’s work. The songwriting process leads to the use of renewed linguistic, reflexive, and interpretative resources. In switching their attention from themselves to creating a representation of self in song, participants come into contact with internal aspects of themselves that can be expressed and transformed. CML allows participants to achieve a gradual redefinition of themselves and provides the basis for a renewed outlook on life.
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