quarridors: Not high on sugar (September 2010)
You've probably seen me post about filk and share filk song lyrics here. It's occured to me that some of my readers might not be familiar with what filk is, so here's an attempt at a primer.

Filk is the music of science fiction and fantasy fandom. It's something that grew out of general conventions (originally a programme book typo for 'folk singing') and still goes on at bigger conventions, but it's also big enough in itself to have its own conventions and communities in various parts of the world.

There seems to be a misconception in Internet-based fandom that filks are always existing songs rewritten with new SF-related lyrics and mainly humorous. While this is of course a big part of what filk singers write and sing, it's by no means representative of filk music. There's easily as much original music inspired by science fiction and fantasy, probably more serious than humorous over all, and no shortage of music about mythology, space exploration, science, technology, beer, cats, knitting, music itself, filking, filkers and anything else filkers are interested in. The genres filk covers are wide as well, while singing in circles does tend to lend itself to folk or at least acoustic music, there are no shortage of filk rock bands either. It's very hard to pin down exactly what filk music is except that it's the music that filkers make.

The format of the annual UK filk conventions is a daytime programme made up of 20 or 40 minute sets by various performers, in the main hall with professional quality sound equipment. These are open to anyone, to the point where I've had sets of my own at two past UK cons. The convention also has guests of honour; a UK guest and an overseas (North American) guest. Sometimes a duo are brought over as the guest. The con also pays for a young Footloose Filker brought over from continental Europe (always Germany and always female as far as I'm aware but I don't think this is the rule). The guests of honour run workshops on the weekend mornings, overseas Saturday morning, UK Sunday morning. They also get a set each on each day. In addition to this there's a filk fund auction, a 'main concert' in which anyone can perform a single song (or reading) and an award ceremony where the con-goers' vote wins for four different categories. In the evenings there are filk circles in which everyone sits in a circle and takes turns to perform, either bardic-style going around the circle and taking turns or more chaotically with whoever has a 'follower' song or the confidence to push in goes next. After the con ends, there's a 'dead dog' circle where everyone who's staying overnight at the convention gets together in a room and sings together, usually with lots of accompaniment, harmonising and singing along.

The main reason why I love filk is that it's an all abilities community that celebrates and encourages creativity and expression in everyone, not just those who are particularly gifted. Two of my favourite 'filk manifesto' songs, Take It Back and Second Hand Songs express this the best and are often sung early in filk circles (or at least I'll sing them if no one else does). I also wrote my own song about discovering filk Where The Fandom Sing, which you may enjoy.

It's always been one of my biggest regrets that I gave up music early in my secondary school career (for painful reasons) and I made various attempts during my twenties to learn musical instruments and develop my singing voice. I first stumbled across filk at a CCDE (camping in a reclaimed landfill sitefield with a bunch of Discworld fans) about ten or eleven years ago and it had a big enough impression on me that I started writing songs and calling them filk, but I only got over hang ups with my voice enough to consider filk singing in my late twenties. My confidence has grown considerably in the last four years, mainly through the encouragement and inspiration of the filk community.

Filk conventions are the time where I get to be around amazingly talented people (singers, musicians and song writers alike), get to sing with them and have them sing and play along with me, and pretend for a few days that I'm a real musician like them :)

Update: My convention report for this year's convention can be read here

December 2016

S M T W T F S
    123
45 678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Oct. 18th, 2017 09:07 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios