Filk is the culture, community, and music related to speculative fiction. It has also in some circle become almost synonymous with parody lyrics. Having said that, it is important to note that the definition of Filk has been a bit of a discussion topic among fans. Groups as varied as space enthusiasts, science fiction fans, and Society for Creative Anachronism have adopted the term to describe the music they create.
Filk ranges from poignant to hilarious, but for me, the music is secondary to the sense of community and fellowship among fans of the genre. At most conventions, if you look deep in the schedule, you will find a filksing or a chaos filk on the grid late into the night. These are the hardest of the hardcore fans and artists who gather together to celebrate the things they love.
That is the what makes Filk so magical and wonderful for me. I love to seek out passionate people. When someone shares something they love with others there is (more often then not) an infectious enthusiasm that fills the room. Filksings are beautiful thing. Humor and insight dance together as a group of strangers become one with the songs.
These are the songs of my culture. I have never resonated with much of the folk music traditions of the United States. Often, they are regional, or based in a religion that I do not subscribe to. Filk takes the characters, themes, goals, and ideals that I believe in, and presents it through music that speaks to me on a very deep level.
I have never thought that I have anything but a bad singing voice, but I am not one to shy away from singing "That Real Old Time Religion," "The Rooster Song," "The Birthday Dirge," or "Holy, Holy." These are the songs that reside within me. They are the music to which my heart beats. When I participate in a filksing, I feel like I am with my people and a part of a larger community.
Perhaps, I am taking this all too far, but it is important for people to find the community that they belong in, embrace it, and carry it around with them always. When we allow ourselves to identify the culture we thrive in, we give ourselves a fertile ground in which to grow.
Most modern people suffer feelings of isolation as a result of the corporate culture that dominates the mainstream. We have become detached and disillusioned by its shallow materialism. To be separate from our culture is to be a part of nothing.
I felt this way for most of my childhood. I was lucky to stumbling into the SF culture when I was about 11, for the first time in my life I found a place that I belonged. Filk, as the music of that culture, forms a strong backbone of that culture.
I invite you to look into it and see if it speaks to you. You might see it as nothing more than a novelty genre that is entertaining or a bizarre style, but if you are like me, you might just find a music that speaks to you on a deep level.
Sites to Check Out