An investigation of the creative process in songwriting in an undergraduate songwriting survey class
Hahn, David Mark
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In this narrative study, I explored the creative process of songwriting from learners’ perspectives. Much literature regarding the creative process in songwriting is taken from the perspective of the instructor. In this study I have focused primarily on how the participants experienced songwriting from their perspective. I examined whether the participants’ backgrounds impacted their perceptions of songwriting, whether participants valued songwriting, whether meanings emerged from the songwriting process, and what strategies emerged through the process. Qualitative methods were used in gathering data, which included interviews, journals, conversations, observation field notes, e-mails, and songwriting artifacts. The data were coded through a cyclical series of transcription and analysis and slowly a research story began to emerge (Saldaña, 2009). The seven participants were worship and music majors at a southern Christian University in an undergraduate songwriting survey class. Through narrative I endeavored to restory their songwriting experiences based on the themes that emerged through the codifying process. Narrative analysis revealed that participants constructed meaning through the process of songwriting. The backgrounds of the participants helped in shaping the subjects of their songs often involving hardships. Participants storied the tension between the initial stage of songwriting and the revisions to follow. Songwriting became a narrative expression of their experience of spiritual awakening. Through reflection during the songwriting process they found greater connection with God. In the process the participants constructed their songs using tone painting to shape their melodies to express their lyrics and metaphors to enliven their lyrics. Participants made use of various recording devices to capture initial ideas before they forgot them, and noted a preference for working with pen and paper in the songwriting process. Where much of previous research focused on songwriting approaches and methods of instruction, this study found that participants enjoyed the meaning making aspects of songwriting and the spiritual connection with God that it brought them.