Clutch Vol. 5: Songwriting


What do you get when you mix Ohbijou's Casey Mejica, five Filipina women keen on creating art, and the lyrical inspiration elicited by an entrancing clip of a Native Mindanao woman's serenade to the unknown? You get Clutch Vol. 5's Songwriting Workshop!

By the end of our session, we had created a tentative version of a piece chorally looped with the hymn, "Day after day, tracing circles in the woods," authored by my CLUTCH buddy Marie Sotto.*

It's incredible to me how the lyrical loop created from this songwriting workshop seems to provide a vocabulary for a bodily loop that was inspired in me by Andrea Mapili's movement workshop last month; as I described in this post, my toes were inclined to trace spirals onto the floor cyclically. I might very well have been tracing circles in the woods, day after day.

All of the participants in the workshop were deeply touched by the aforementioned video of the haunting Mindanao Native. Despite the absence of a translation for the words of her tune from the Philippine dialect that was unfamiliar to us, I think it's safe to say that all of the participants connected with her on a level that transcends words. The range of emotion that she evoked was ineffable, as was her message.


During our initial go-around, we all shared our relationship to music and lyrics, most of us conceding that the importance of sound, the rhythm, and the beat oftentimes eclipses the importance of the lyrics themselves. That is, the ambiance of the lyrics and their aesthetic--spatial, rhythmic, tonic--situation shapes our relationship to music as much as the lyrics themselves. For Clutch Coordinator Nicole Cajucom, for example, this meant that listening to Britney Spears during paper-writing unfailingly amounted to the generation of A-quality papers.

Accordingly, as our ears picked up the vibration of our YouTube songstress from Mindanao, we were haunted and entranced despite and because of our inability to comprehend her words.

This seems to mimic how I sometimes see Filipino culture as a Filipino-Canadian in the diaspora: a haunting specter from which I feel both connected disconnected but with which I yearn to connect. We were prompted to write a song based on this video we felt we understood. And we did. I can and do only hope that I can similarly connect with my Filipino identity by producing a new narrative, like our song, a synthesis of the connection to Filipino culture that I do feel and the haunting from the disconnect that keeps me seeking a connection.

*Stay tuned to hear the final musical product! It will make an appearance at the CLUTCH final art exhibit.