[Bards] Filking

Jay Rudin rudin at ev1.net
Sun Apr 27 08:29:57 PDT 2008

DO NOT make the mistake of think that anybody's answer is the "right" one, or that there is a general agreement, so that if you learn the rules, all people will approve of what you do.

We don't all agree.  Most of us don't even have the same answer at all times.

Master Jan w Orzeldom once said the following:  "You can play the dream.  You can play the club.  Or you can play the joke.  But it's a mistake to believe that the disagreements are between those who always play the dream v. those who always play the club, (or any other combination).  We all play all three, at various times.  This disagreements are between those who want to play the dream right now, v. those who want to play the joke right now (etc.)."

A filk to a modern tune (that I recognize as a modern tune) is playing the joke -- deliberately breaking the mood for effect.  I don't particularly like them, because bardic circles (even late at night) are places where it can all seem real.  So a filk song at a circle is somebody playing the joke when I'm trying to play the dream.  Other people disagree, and believe that filks should be reserved for late night, because the dream is only played when official activities are going on.

Which position is correct?  All of them.  None of them.  If you sing a filk that sounds too modern to me, I won't complain; I'll practice my piece, or go get a beer, or whatever.  My dream won't get in the way of your joke, but your joke won't get in the way of my dream.

Note: a modern tune used, not for special effect, but simply because it's a tune the singer knows, is probably playing the club rather than playing the joke.  Either way, I'll generally avoid it.  But that's fine.

Another digression: I have no filk songs, but I have some pieces that break the mood.  I avoid doing them around a late-night campfire, reserving them for more mundane setting -- like directly after a compatition.  Note that this is the direct opposite of the view of those who reserve the jokes for late at night.

Years ago, the greatest literature scholars alive today -- globally famous in their fields -- decided to rank the greatest novels ever written.  AND THE COULDN'T AGREE.  If scholars who have spent their lives analyzing literature cannot agree on the most over-analyzed works of art ever written, we amateurs will certainly never agree about our amateur productions.

And that's fine.  We can each affect the growth of SCA performances, because the rules aren't 100% determined.

So do what you believe in, have fun, and be sympathetic to those who are playing a different way than you are right now.

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin
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