What's in the lyrics? A discussion paper describing the complexities of systematically analyzing lyrics composed in music therapy
McFerran-Skewes, Katrina, Baker, Felicity and Krout, Robert (2011) What's in the lyrics? A discussion paper describing the complexities of systematically analyzing lyrics composed in music therapy. Canadian Journal of Music Therapy, 171: 34-54.
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Songwriting is an increasingly prominent topic in music therapy literature. A number of large-scale investigations have examined strategies used by music therapists to compose songs with, and for, clients. Lyric analyses have also been published; these have canvassed small groups of clients in the areas of neurorehabilitation, palliative care, bereavement, and eating disorders. This paper describes an investigation that included a meta-analysis of client composed lyrics published in the music therapy literature and that aimed to make generalizations about the purpose of songwriting. It was hypothesized that goals being addressed through songwriting could be classified as either affirmation-oriented or process-oriented. This hypothesis was not confirmed; instead, the complexity of analyzing lyrics without sufficient contextual or "insider" information was confronted. Recommendations for future studies include the use of more systematic approaches to soliciting raw data and the use of analytic strategies.