Melodic-Poetic Representation: Research Sings/La Représentation Mélodico-Poétique : Quand la Recherche Chante

Article excerpt


Song is a representational form for music therapy research. I support this contention by extending Glesne's concept of poetic transcription to melodicpoetic transcription. I introduce Glesne's original concept and further draw on Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot, Laurel Richardson, Ardra Cole, J. Gary Knowles, Max van Manen and Aristotle. I include the song, We are the Melody, that emerged during analysis of a qualitative inquiry about the meaning of a music therapy cancer support group for adult cancer patients. This song is an artsinformed means of research representation.

Key words: music therapy, arts-informed research, cancer support group, qualitative inquiry


La chanson est une forme représentationnelle de recherche en musicothérapie. Je soutiens cette affirmation en élargissant le concept de transcription poétique de Glesne à la transcription mélodico-poétique. Je présente le concept d'origine de Glesne et m'inspire aussi de Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot, Laurel Richardson, Ardra Cole, J. Gary Knowles, Max van Manen et Aristote. J'inclus la chanson We are the Melody, qui a vu le jour au cours de l'analyse d'une enquête qualitative sur la signification, effectuée par un groupe de soutien en musicothérapie pour patients adultes atteints de cancer. Cette chanson constitue un médium de recherche basé sur l'art.

Mots clés : musicothérapie, recherche basée sur l'art, groupe de soutien pour patients atteints de cancer, enquête qualitative


I thank ten cancer patient-survivors without whom this writing would not be possible. This research was supported by an operating grant from the Sociobehavioural Cancer Research Network with funds from the Canadian Cancer Society. I was supported for this research through a PhD Studentship at the University of Toronto, supported by the Canadian Cancer Society. I am supported for this writing by a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Cancer Institute of Canada with funds donated to the Canadian Cancer Society. This writing is extracted from my arts-informed doctoral dissertation. I acknowledge Ardra Cole, Margaret Fitch, Denise Grocke, Sandra Trehub, Dave Hunt and Arthur Frank for their careful examination of this work.


In addition to text, I represent arts-informed research about the meaning of a music therapy support group for adult cancer patients with images (Rykov, 2008 in press), poetry (Rykov, 2007 in press) and music (Rykov, 2006b).1 In this writing I discuss the song that emerged from the research, that represents the research and the contributing influences that shaped it. I first oudine the role of song and singing in music therapy, including the research participants' attitudes to singing. I introduce Corrine Glesne's (1997) concept of poetic transcription in terms of arts-informed research (Cole & Knowles, forthcoming). I extend Glesne's poetic transcription to song and call it melodicpoetic transcription. I discuss the song this research sings. I conclude that song is a form of representation of music therapy research.


Song is the most fundamental, immediate and embodied music. It engages us physically, neurologically, emotionally and spiritually (Sullivan, 2003). Songs in music therapy are used to facilitate self-reflection, life review and selfexpression:

Songs are ways that human beings explore emotions. They express who we are and how we feel, they bring us closer to others; they keep us company when we are alone. They articulate our beliefs and values.... They allow us to relive the past, to examine the present, and to voice our dreams for the future. Songs weave tales of our joys and sorrows; they reveal our innermost secrets, and they express our hopes and disappointments, our fear and triumphs.... They are the sounds of our personal development. (Bruscia, 1998, p. 9)

Singing wells up from deep within and brings joy. …


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