Both a noun and a verb, filk refers to fan-written, fan-sung songs about science fiction or fannish themes and to the events, or filksings, where such music, known as filksongs, are performed by filkers.
Once performed in casual sing-alongs at club meetings and in the stairwells and spare corners of cons, filksinging (also known as filking) has evolved into a highly organized system of concerts and circles. Traditional sing-alongs play only a minor part in modern filk.
Although filk began as fannish parodies to the tunes of mundane songs, the meaning of filksong has greatly broadened since Fancyclopedia 2 (see below) was published. Today, filk songs may be either parodies or completely original songs, and they encompass a variety of styles and themes. The criterion for a filk song is its place or the place of its creators in fannish culture rather than adherence to any musical approach. Put another way, if a song is sung in a filk circle, it is considered to be filk, much as a fanzine might not contain a word about science fiction but still be considered a fanzine.
Filksinging still takes place at conventions, where filk dealers may huckster songbooks and CDs. Filksongs appear in fanzines, and many conventions have Filk (or Music) GoHs. NESFA published two major filk songbooks and Boskone used to have a filksong contest. Lots of filksongs, like "Bouncing Potatoes," chronicle events in fanhistory.
However, the filk community now overlaps the fannish community rather than being strictly part of it, and some filkers don't participate in the sf microcosm at all but only go to specialized filk cons. Filk has its own awards, the Filk Hall of Fame presented at FilKONtario and the Pegasus Awards presented at the Ohio Valley Filk Festival, and its own traditions. Like other activities that began in fandom, and continue to be part of it to an extent, filkdom has in some respects become a fandom unto itself. However, most filkers considers themselves to be both fans and filkers, and within the filk community filk is often defined as "the folk music of sf fandom."
The rise of fannish movements outside from sf fandom has also seen the rise of fannish music that is independent of filk, and with different social and creative focuses. Examples are, , and .
Sf-related songs by mainstream figures who aren't closely involved with fannish culture (e.g., the music of Weird Al Yankovic, Jonathan Coulton, The Rocky Horror Show, etc.) aren't considered filk, even if they have SF themes; if widely adopted by filkers, though, they're sometimes called "found filk."
Almost any dance at an sf con will include Rocky Horror's "Time Warp," as surely as the "Hora" will be danced at a bar mitzvah. (At Sydney Krause's bat mitzvah, they played both, and at the first strains of the "Time Warp," Bill Higgins quipped, "Ah, the folk song of my people.")
While the singing of filksongs goes back at least as far as the second Worldcon, Chicon I in 1940, and while such venerable groups as the Futurians and FAPA had their own fannish songs, the term filk dates to 1953, and is attributed to a typo made by Washington, D.C., fan Lee Jacobs in an apa contribution.
LeeJ misspelled folk song in a piece he'd submitted to SAPS entitled "The Influence of Science Fiction on Modern American Filk Music." The article was about supposed sf incidents in folk songs, but actually discussed a number of thoroughly smutty songs, taking various metaphors in them as if they were meant literally. Wrai Ballard, the OE of SAPS, decided the piece might run afoul of censorious postal authorities, so he didn't run it in the mailing, but he noted the typo of "filk" for "folk" and mentioned it to a lot of fans. (This may be why some people believe filksinging to be an abbreviation for "filthy folk singing.")
Not long after that another SAPS member, Karen Anderson, took LeeJ's typo and defined it as musical parodies written by fans. Then, on Die Zeitschrift für Vollstandigen Unsinn #774 p22 by Karen Anderson is the first-known song published as a filk song, written (see the note in The Zed #780) by Poul Anderson.
Gary McGath has written a thorough history of filk, , available as a free download.
|From Fancyclopedia 2 ca 1959|
Also involved: - Ad Astra 28 - Adam English - Alison Scott - Allison Durno - Andrew Eigel - Anne Passovoy - Annie Griffith - Astronomicon 2 - Astronomicon 4 - Audrey Eschright - Barbership - Bari Greenberg - Barry Gold - BayFilk - Big Tent - Bill Laubenheimer - Bill Sutton - Black Book Band - Blibbering Humdingers - Bob Passovoy - Boskone 29 - Boskone 57 - British Filk Convention - Bruce Dane - Bruce Pelz - Carol Kabakjian - Clues and Gropes - Colleen Savitzky - ConCertino - ConCertino '03 - ConCertino '06 - ConCertino '95 - ConCertino '99 - ConCertino 1992 - ConCertino 2009 - ConCertino 2012 - ConCertino 2018 - ConCerto - ConCerto 1990 - ConChord - ConChord 19 - ConChord Songbook - Conflikt 9 - Conflikt I - Confluence 1 - Conglomeration (MD) - Conjecture - Consonance - Consonance 2006 - Consonance 2010 - Consonance 2016 - Consonance 2017 - Consonance 2018 - Contata - Contata 1994 - Contata 2005 - Contata 3 - Contata 5 - Contata 6 - Contata 7 - Contata 98 - ConteXXt - Conterpoint - Conterpoint 1993 - Conterpoint 2004 - Conterpoint 2007 - Conterpoint 2010 - Conterpoint Four - Conterpoint Three - Conterpoint Too! - Copy Red Leader - Critical Mass - DFDF - Daniel Glasser - Dark Ships in the Forest - Debs and Errol - DeepSouthCon 47 - Dodeka Records - Duane Elms - Echo's Children - Ed Chamberlain - Emerald Forest Filk Society - Erwin S. Strauss - Escape Key - FILK UK - FanFare Music Inc. - Fannish Play - Featured Filker - FilKONtario 3 - FilKONtario 30 - Filk Circle - Filk Community - Filk Con - Filk Foundation - Filk Guest - Filk Singers - Filk Song - Filk Waif - Filk fan - Filk group - Filk singing - Filk song - Filk songs - Filk-community - Filk-fan - Filk-group - Filk-singers - Filk-song - Filk-songs - FilkContinental - Filkcon West - Filkdex - Filkdom - Filker - Filker Up - Filkers - Filkhog - Filking - Filklore - Filklore Music Store - Filks - Filksing - Filksinger - Filksinging - Filksings - Filksong - Filksongs - Filkzine - Filthy Pierre's Microfilk - Finding the Future - Firebird Arts and Music - Five Year Mission - Flowinglass Music - Found Filk - GAFilk - GAFilk 2018 - Gary Anderson - Gary Hanak - GoH - Grand Central Starport - HalswayCon Days 2012 - HarmUni 1 - HarmUni 2 - Hymn to Satan - Hymnal Filk - ISFiC Press - In for a Penny V - J. Spencer Love - Jack Speer - Jeff Berkwits - Jeff Bohnhoff - Joe "Fax Paladin" Abbott - Joe Bethancourt - Joe Haldeman - Joe Raftery - John Caspell - Johns Hopkins Science Fiction Association - Jonathan Turner - Jordin Kare - Ju and Katy - Juanita Coulson - Juliane Honisch - Karen Willson - Kazoo Awards - Kerstin Droege - Kira Heston - Kirsten Vaughan - L. A. Filkharmonics - Larry Warner - Leslie Fish - Lissa Allcock - Listener Guest - Lois Mangan - Los Angeles Filkers Anonymous - Love Song Productions - Lunacon 2016 - MASSFILC - ManorCon - Margaret Middleton - Matt Leger - Maya Bohnhoff - Melissa Williamson - Michael Longcor - Michelle "Vixy" Dockrey - Mike Whitaker - More Difficulties - Murder Ballads - Musicon - NEFilk 2020 - NEFilk 2021 - NePalm Music - New York Metropolitan Filk Organization - Nick Smith - OVFF 33 - OVFF 34 - Off Centaur Publications - Ookla the Mok - OryCon - OryCon 27 - OryCon 30 - OryCon 32 - OryCon 34 - Pat O'Neil - Pegasus Award - Peggi Warner-Lalonde - Persis Thorndike - Phil Alcock - Phoenix (filk) - Rainbow Con - Rainbow Con 2.1 - Rainbow Con 3 - Rainbow Con 4 - Rainbow Con I - Rainbow Con II - Rand Bellavia - Random Factors - Rika Körte - Riverfolk - Roger Burton West - Sandworm Songbook - Sandy Cutrell - Save the Wails - Science Fiction Song Sheet - Scott Vaughan - Slime After Slime - Slime Devil Songbook - Songs from Space - Specialized Conventions - Steve Macdonald - Steve Savitzky - Steve Simmons - Stockon 5 - Sue Jeffers - Summer and Fall - Susan Cooper - T. J. Burnside-Clapp - THOR Records - Technical Difficulties - Teresa Powell - The Boogie Knights - The Dandelion Conspiracy - The Philk Fee-Nom-Ee-Non - The Philly Philk Phlash - The Second ConCerto - The Secret Empire - Thor Records - Tim Walker - Timelines - Tom Jeffers - Tom Smith - Toyboat - Trickster and King - Tricky Pixie - Triode Plus - Tropicon - Tropicon VI - Tropicon VII - Tropicon VIII - UFO - United Filkers of Ontario - Unlikely Publications - Vixy & Tony - Volker Tanger - Wail Songs - Westercon 19 - Wild Mercy - Wilderwood - WindyCon XXIX - Zander's Little Book of Filks
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