What are three core qualities of a
The song arises from the spoken words of an individual’s lived experience.
The melody and words can be sung by people without trained voices.
The song expresses a shared exploration of ideas and suggestions from its Story Source and Teaching Artist.
The seven steps of the Documentary Songwriting Method
Documentary songwriting is a unique, step-by-step method of co-writing music that fosters empathy, boosts self-confidence and strengthens community. It demystifies creativity and allows someone with no musical background to express themselves through high-quality songs.
- Draw forth a story
- Distill into a free verse poem
- Shape into lyrics
- Design a melody for one verse and a refrain
- Choose chords
- Edit the remaining verses to fit the melody
- Make a live recording
Documentary Songwriting builds connection among people, reduces loneliness and frees up creativity.
It has been used to enhance understanding between Turkish and Greek Cypriots, to tell the stories of refugees from the Middle East seeking asylum in the Netherlands, and to tell women’s #MeToo stories. Our projects have been featured on TEDx and on NPR’s Morning Edition. Our Teaching Artists bring the world’s stories to us and share the stories of our communities with the world through song.
Participants of the Documentary Songwriters programming gain self-esteem when they can turn their experiences into song. Documentary Songwriters trains Teaching Artists (TAs) in the Documentary Songwriting Method and supports them in their completion of various projects with organizations worldwide.
TAs guide participants through the process of generating lyrics, melody and chord structures, and participants need no prior musical experience. Through completing these projects, TAs also learn valuable skills that help them in all aspects of their careers, including deep listening skills, effective communication practices and the ability to plan, implement and follow through with complex projects.