Songwriting and Human Shadow: Heuristic Inquiry Grounded in Art


arts-based research
heuristic inquiry
music therapy
art therapy
human shadow studies

How to Cite

Fox, H. (2018). Songwriting and Human Shadow: Heuristic Inquiry Grounded in Art. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 18(2).


This paper summarizes research first presented in an unpublished dissertation by the author (2005). A rigorous art-based, heuristic methodology in the tradition of Clark Moustakas (1990) examines the author’s own experiences with songwriting, spanning over 25 years. Compelling images reveal themselves in the inquiry in songs, dreams, painting, and sculpture as harbingers of human shadow, with undeniable auto-ethnographic features. A model for conceptualizing songwriting in particular and the creative process in general as vehicles for psychological understanding and healing is explored and described for art therapy and music therapy practitioners. The theoretical grounding emerging from this study pays homage to Hillman’s work (1977), highlighting an image’s autonomy, intent, and a sense of “otherness” owing to emergence from an imaginal realm (versus consensual reality). Images in this context are understood as not only visual but apparent in and able to be rendered through a variety of art modalities. The text highlights (and hyperlinks) a progression of original songs produced in the study, songs that parallel the academic learning and culminate in a final, musical “creative synthesis.” A complete song list, an index of images, and references are included.

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