Enhancing emotional dimension of the lyrics

Music also plays a crucial role in enhancing the emotional dimensions of the lyrics. It is well recognized that music has the potential to create tension and resolution of the tension in the listener through the combination of certain musical elements (Meyer, 1956). The use of dynamic and tempo changes, rising and falling melodic contours, and unresolved and then resolving harmonic progressions build feelings of tension and expectations of a resolution (although some resolutions may not necessarily come). Spitzer (2013) proposed that the intensification of these features, particularly in songs where the human instrument of the voice is used, leads to a cathartic release. In essence, there is a gradual building from a low register to a highpoint in the song, which leads to a release of inner tension. Although Spitzer discussed this in relation to Schubert lieder, many modern day popular songs also follow this pattern where the verses build harmonic tension that is either intensified in the chorus or resolved in the chorus.

The potential for expressing climax and resolution can be incorporated into the songs created within a therapeutic context. One therapist who was working with at-risk children in the United States recounted her experience of facilitating the creation of a song titled 'In my Palace', which was a metaphor for having a home for these children. She described how she created a nurturing and calming melody for the chorus of the song that had a lulling quality. She helped create a melody that moved to a high pitch that represented the 'victory of being at home, having a home and some resolution' and used a chord that was out of key to create the tension which was later resolved.

For older adults in palliative care, one clinician recounted how a lady who was highly anxious used the music to connect more deeply with her emotions. The songwriter created this song titled 'Release Me', but was unable to sing the song herself because of her low energy and her inability to use her voice to express such intense emotions. She asked the clinician to sing the song to her and, as she did, the songwriter demanded the clinician yell (not sing) the lyrics 'release me'. The music crescendoed from singing to screaming, but in doing so, the music was able to support the release of the songwriter's emotions. The clinician reported:

She made me literally yell 'release me' when we were recording it, really high-pitched, and she played the recording back and she said 'That's it, I can go now.' That was on a Monday, and I came back on Wednesday and she'd died. So she was able, on the Monday, to sit there with me in the music therapy room and guide me so that she could create a song that she wanted, and then she was dead on Wednesday . . . That was really profound.

Music can also add an emotional backing to the lyrics so that they are brought to life. The music gives the lyrics 'direction, substance, depth, and height' so that the lyrics can be experienced in a more enriching way.

Music plays a key role in expressing and holding the feelings of the songwriter so that they can be experienced fully expressed, illuminated, clarified, and resolved. Spitzer (2013) argued that songs could achieve this more easily than orchestral music because typically the song's effect, established in the initial moments of the song, is usually sustained throughout the whole song. This is evidenced in the repetition of motifs, melody lines, and repeated lyrics in sections such as the chorus - 'the characteristic figures are omnipresent' (Spitzer, 2013, p. 12). Within a therapeutic context, the repetition of lyrics and melodies serves to trigger the same emotions indefinitely (or until the song is complete), to hold the songwriter (and listener) in that emotion so it can be more deeply experienced. Given this, when using song parody as a method, it is important to select an appropriate song to rewrite the lyrics to. If the clinician wants to hold the songwriters so they can experience a certain emotion or feeling, then devoting time to finding the best song that already expresses those emotions or feeling states is advantageous. In her group work with adults who were undergoing therapy for drug or alcohol addiction, one clinician invested time in listening to songs when planning her song parody group sessions to ensure she selected appropriate songs:

Before I use any song, I listen to it several different ways. I listen to it in an altered state with my eyes closed, my eyes open. I listen to it with the lyrics, when I'm feeling different ways and I note all the different emotional responses I have for it . . . I usually don't use songs where the music does not support the emotional content of the lyrics. So the music is very important.

 
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