Collective Songwriting: Social Improvisation as Best Practice


Martha Gonzalez (Scripps College)

Collective Songwriting: Social Improvisation as Best Practice As noted in previous works (Gonzalez 2014, 2020) collective songwriting as a process and method creates space, challenges multiple patriarchal systems, builds community, and can potentially produce knowledge that is accessible to communities beyond the academy. One of the most important aspects of this process is embodied knowledge and the idea that one is already knowledgeable via socio, cultural, life experience as we approach a dialogue table. In this way, this method has been useful in many spaces for its ability to be inclusive of any and all who come to the dialogue space. However, due to the multiplicity of bodies and experiences involved one must acknowledge the keen skillset one needs to navigate the dialogues that take place including conflict resolution and other moments of dissent successfully. This essay makes explicit the trajectory of consciousness that arises as a result of engaging in the collective songwriting process, which includes original intention, approach, energy, conflict, and best improvisational practices as gathered by my own experiences on implementing the process in different sites, as well as other approaches to the process as informed by fellow practitioners and their respective spaces.

Part of 36-05 Cultural and Social Pedagogy in the Sites of Ethnic Mexican Music-Making, Wednesday, October 20, 5:15 pm–6:45 pm