Melodi Var Öngel tells the extraordinary story of how she used documentary songwriting to help a divided country.

Every life has a story. Every story deserves a voice.

Documentary Songwriting is a method of creating songs from spoken words.
It takes the step beyond witnessing a person’s story. It transforms that story into an art form – in this case, a song.
The method appeals to people who want to demystify creativity, reduce human isolation, and build confidence. Some features:

  • It is collaborative. Two or more people work together.
  • No musical knowledge is needed from the person who tells the story.
  • It is a step-by-step process. It is flexible, but you still know what to do next.
  • The song comes from spoken words. You don’t wait for inspiration.
  • The process may lead to a sense of emotional well-being.
  • The song can be shared and can cross boundaries.

Who uses it?

  • Teachers and humanitarian musicians who say, “I want to help people hear and understand one another at a deeper level.”
  • People with little or no musical training who say, “I love music and I’d like to try to write a song from my heart, but I could use some help, please.”

What is the goal?
To build connection among people, reduce loneliness, and free up creativity
What is the vision?
People around the world sharing and creating songs from their spoken words
What we do
Documentary Songwriters help people to create songs from their own spoken words.
Mission Statement
To bear witness to the human condition and give voice, through music, to people’s experiences.

Three Values

  • Authenticity
  • Artistry
  • Accessibility

Ten Programs

  1. For groups living in regions of conflict: Songwriting for reconciliation
  2. For schools: Oral history, independent study, and choral songwriting projects
  3. For listeners in remote areas: Spotify releases and playlists with new songs and new voices
  4. For colleges and universities: Online and on-location courses, training internships, independent studies, research, and field work terms
  5. For musicians: Individual songwriting and recording sessions
  6. For addiction recovery centers: Small group programs to reduce isolation
  7. For people seeking asylum: Songwriting with refugees
  8. For veterans: One-to-one sessions
  9. For those who have survived sexual trauma: the #MeToo songwriting Project
  10. For families who want to preserve their cultures and traditions: Songwriting from ancestral histories

    Documentary Songwriters is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.