Songs

music noteSongs as a response to hardship and trauma

Many narrative therapists and community workers are now using music and song in their work with individuals, groups, and communities. This page contains songs created during various Dulwich Centre projects both in Australia and overseas, as well as links to find out more about the contexts they were created in. You can listen to David Denborough discussing the use of song in narrative practice on this radio program.

A Tree of Life song from India

This Tree of Life was created during a Tree of Life workshop in Vadapalani, India, facilitated by Sathesh Kumar, Mashreeb Aryal, and Louise Carmichael. For more information see the publication ‘Listening for alternative stories: Narrative practices with vulnerable children and young people in India’.

A song of survival

This song was written with transgender folk in Long Bay Prison, as part of workshops for transgender prisoners. For more about this song, see ‘Songs as sustenance: Reinvigorating folk culture as a response to trauma’ in Collective narrative practice: Responding to individuals. groups, and communities who have experienced trauma (pp. 161-175), David Denborough (Adelaide, Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications, 2008).

Happiness has its way

This song was written during a gathering for people with an HIV-positive diagnosis and workers within the HIV field. To read more about this gathering, see Living positive lives (Dulwich Centre Journal, 2000, no. 4).

It is our duty to share their story

This song was written to words by Duma Kumalo, one of the Sharpeville Six sentenced to death in South Africa for crimes he did not commit. This song was written during a gathering related to the ‘Healing of Memories’ on Robben Island in South Africa. For more about this song, see ‘Songs as sustenance: Reinvigorating folk culture as a response to trauma’ in Collective narrative practice: Responding to individuals, groups, and communities who have experienced trauma (pp. 161-175), David Denborough (Adelaide, Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications, 2008).

Nine years old, nine years young

This song was created with Paul, a man in prison, who was seeking to testify about his childhood experiences of sexual abuse in a boys’ home. For more about Paul’s story, see ‘Responding to trauma / responding to social issues’ in Collective narrative practice: Responding to individuals. groups, and communities who have experienced trauma (pp. 5-24), David Denborough (Adelaide, Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications, 2008).

Narrandera Koori Community Gathering songs

These songs were recorded during a community gathering with the Narrandera Koori (Aboriginal) Community. For more about this gathering, see The Narrandera Koori Community Gathering.

  1. Going home
  2. The dancing will continue
  3. We remember those who’ve left us
  4. The Hill, by Cecil Lyons
  5. Bring us home

Songs responding so social issues

A summer’s day in Sydney – a song as response to race riots in Sydney in 2006. Click here to read more about this issue.

A song for Australia – written in response to the Bali bombings in 2002. Click here to view the lyrics.

To read more about narrative songwriting

The following articles contain other songs written in narrative practice contexts, the process of collaborative songwriting, and ideas for how to bring songwriting into contexts of therapy and social work, community work, popular education, and social action.

Denborough, D. (2002). Community song writing and narrative practice. Clinical Psychology, 17, 17–24. Available here on the Dulwich Centre website.

Denborough, D. (2008). Songs as sustenance: Reinvigorating folk culture as a response to trauma. In D. Denborough, Collective narrative practice: Responding to individuals. groups, and communities who have experienced trauma (pp. 161–175), (Adelaide, Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications).

Hegarty, T. (2009). Songs as re-tellings. The International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, (3), 44–54.

Wever, C. (2009). Musical re-tellings: Songs, singing, and resonance in narrative practice. The International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, (3) 28–42.