Undergraduate Writing students Esther Ollivier (left) and Maximiliam Patel (right)

Students Publish ‘Songcraft,’ a Global Anthology of Songwriting

BY Rebecca Pinwei Tseng, October 7, 2021

Undergraduate Writing students Esther Ollivier and Maximiliam Patel recently published Songcraft, a virtual anthology featuring musicians from around the world.


Songcraft is a project founded under the Columbia chapter of Humans in Harmony, a nonprofit that brings together students and community members through original music composition. Headed by Ollivier and Patel, the Summer 2021 issue comprises 16 songwriters, including Sarah Swinwood, a nonfiction and literary translation student, and Writing alumnus Jonathan Koe ’16.


During the first year of the pandemic, Humans in Harmony formulated the idea to bring songwriters together by creating an anthology of voices that could speak to established musicians and upcoming songwriters alike, especially during a disconnected time. The Songcraft website, mainly constructed by Poetry student Tiffany Troy, is an interactive platform that allows users to listen to music while reading about the musicians and their backgrounds.


Songcraft focused on showcasing global perspectives across a variety of ages, perspectives, music styles, and backgrounds. The website features “a diverse portfolio of people who excelled at what they’re doing,” Patel stated. “Our goal was to get an encompassing perspective…We got people who are current professionals and have a lot more experiences and larger gigs, and there’s also people our age, college students, who are growing their brands and music and identity. Their story is also helpful for different audiences.”


The international focus of Songcraft shows how music fosters global interaction and connection. “Music is one of the most encompassing forms of communication,” Ollivier stated. “We don’t need to speak the same language to listen to the same instrument. Even if I can’t understand the language, I can still understand the mood and theme based on the music, the vibe, and the instruments.” Patel agreed, adding that music, to him, is about “finding similarities through differences. What are the underpinnings that make a song good?”


For Ollivier and Patel, who are both also studying music at Columbia, Songcraft is an opportunity to create a resource for anybody interested in songwriting and to learn about new artists. To Ollivier, music is “a huge part of how I express myself...[My keyboard] feels like an extension of my arm.”


Max stated that he’s recently been thinking of music not as a noun, but a verb: “The way I see it, [music] is an action that people take. It’s exchanged like communication.”