[linux-elitists] We are elitist criminals!

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Wed Aug 30 10:06:58 PDT 2000

begin  Ben quotation:

>> What, you've never heard of FILK!?!
>> Shame on you.
> Nope never heard of it. What is it?


What the Heck is Filk Music?

by Nick Smith (of LA Filkharmonics)

Well, it's sort of like folk music. It is a mixture of song parodies and
original music, humorous and serious, about subjects like science
fiction, fantasy, computers, cats, politics, the space program, books,
movies, TV shows, love, war, death....

Filk music started off forty or fifty years ago, at science fiction
conventions, where people got together late at night to have good
old-fashioned folk music song circles. Well, late night circles being
what they are, some folks got a little silly and started singing song
parodies about their favorite SF books and authors. Fans started writing
song parodies about themselves or each other. Some started composing
serious songs about favorite topics. Some authors started composing
original songs for their books. If the author didn't list a tune, fans
made up one. Sometimes two. Sometimes several.

Eventually, Filk songs were written for just about every major science
fiction or fantasy work. Some of them were actually good enough that
people wanted to learn them, or just listen to them more than just at
conventions. At that point, song books and recordings started being
made. Over the last decade, Filk Music has reached the point where there
are entire Filk Music gatherings, conventions, recording companies, and

Filk Music includes song parodies, original songs, and slightly musical
poetry. It's a fun way to indulge in a little musical creativity,
especially if you are a science fiction or fantasy fan as well as
musically inclined. If you are only a fan, but not musical, you can
still listen. Filk circles aren't pushy about requiring you to play or
sing. If you are only musical, but not a fan, no one will hold it
against you. Remember, we're in this thing for fun!

[Written for flyer for distribution at California Traditional Music
Society Annual Summer Solstice Dulcimer Festival and other local Los
Angeles folk music events and stores.]

What Nick didn't tell you is that the name started out as a typo of
"folk" and was gleefully adopted by all and sundry as a term for what is
after all a somewhat unusual subset.
 --Kay Shapero, Moderator/Designated Topic Cop, FILK echo


From: am715@detroit.freenet.org (Tom Smith)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5
Subject: Re: another reason jms hates filk
Date: 27 Apr 1995 12:46:10 GMT

msaroff@moose.erie.net (Matthew Saroff) wrote:

> I can't imagine why JMS would dislike the idea of poorly rhyming
> lyrics sung off-key to Green Sleeves.

If I may so bold as to decry filk but defend filking, there a lot of
drek out there, sung by people whose musical ability and training are,
shall we say, not what they should be in a perfect world. A lot of this
stuff even makes it to tape.

But there is a lot of good stuff out there as well, much of it
professional quality -- Michael "Moonwolf" Longcor, Barry and Sally
Childs-Helton, Kathy Mar, and Decadent Dave Clement (and his group
Circles in the Grain) leap to mind. Others, such as Duane Elms, may not
have the best voice, but write wonderful lyrics and demonstrate
ferocious musicianship.

More to the point, filk is performed to entertain (at least in theory).
;) Filkers are having a good time together; even the need of some folks
to do a long, slow dirging lullaby at 2:00 am Sunday can't completely
spoil things. ("They slaughtered our village / and stole every whore /
Then went on to pillage / the village next door / They gave our dogs
rabies / molested our sheep / So hush now, my babies / and drift off to

There are, to my mind, two types of filkers: those who are finding a new
way to express themselves, and those who at one point or another become
aware of the needs of the audience to be entertained, and work ever
harder to meet those needs. The first group should be cherished; most of
them get better, many of them get good, and all of them get a release
they need. The second group is also known as musicians, and their
musicianship is more practiced (that in fact being the key word here --
you gotta get to Carnegie Hall somehow), their songs are both more
accessible and more experimental, and they quickly get away from (though
almost never abandon) "the folk tradition," instead working in
rock-n-roll, blues, New Age, and even show tunes and opera.

And even "Greensleeves" has its uses:

Alas, my love / to me, wrong you've done,
You interrupted / my joy and fun,
You dropped me into / that acid vat,
I'll get you back / you dirty bat.

Green hair / 'tis such a fright,
My lips too red / my skin too white,
My purple suit / it looks so cute,
But not as distinct as my green hair. :)

Tom Smith
The World's Fastest Filker

  (Eric's wrong:  Filk _can_ be, and often is, entirely original, and 
by no means is all of it humourous.)
  (Lee Gold's history of filk)
  (locally-produced filk about Linux)

Cheers,                   "Teach a man to make fire, and he will be warm 
Rick Moen                 for a day.  Set a man on fire, and he will be warm
rick@linuxmafia.com       for the rest of his life."   -- John A. Hrastar

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