[Bards] Filking

Esther reese_esther at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 27 13:56:57 PDT 2008

And hell will be an elevator, where you have to listen to this in and endless loop, sung by chipmunks playing that thing you whack with a stick that has a rubber ball on it that goes "tiny, tinky, tinky" and has a big long name I can't remember, but I know it isn't "canasta".



Ken Theriot <kentheriot at ravenboymusic.com> wrote:        v\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} o\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} w\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} .shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);}          st1\:*{behavior:url(#default#ieooui) }           < I, personally, dislike blatantly modern tunes, but as Saint-Saëns demonstrated in his "Carnival of Animals"  He took two spritely tunes, transposed them down, slowed them down, and gave them to the double bassoon and called it "The Elephant"  The original pieces are almost unrecognizable so even a modern tune suitably re-worked might be made to be appropriate, so the question is, at this point in time what are you comfortable with?>
Svetlana, that is an awesome example!  Amen sister!!  I have to share this.  We got a little silly after one of our Bardic Nights down here, and someone asked if we knew about “The Llama Song,” which we didn’t.  It is this really hilarious, extremely modern, YouTube staple of rapid-fire non-sequitur that had us rolling on the floor after we all gathered around the laptop on the kitchen table where folks are always looking stuff up if they forget lyrics, etc.  Anyway, we were talking with one of our new bards (she was very new at the time) about filk.  Our rule of thumb (Christianna
.this is NOT in any way universal
just something my lady came up with) is that there are two good tests for “good filk” and (for lack of a better term) “not as good filk.”  1.  If you can just look at the lyrics, without hearing it sung, and instantly know what tune was used to filk it (usually because many of the original words were used), then it is NOT in the “good filk” category.  2.  If you
 use a blatantly modern tune when performing the song (hence running the risk of harshing someone’s dream), it is also not in the “good filk” category (at least not for official SCA performances
.see all previous mentions of “it depends”).  So armed with those two “litmus tests,” Lady Sophia came to the next Bardic Night and said she had written a filk, and challenged us to name the original tune.  Nobody could!  She had written original lyrics about Ragnarök (from Norse mythology), and sung it slowly and beautifully.  She said that on her next turn, she would sing the actual song from which she took the tune.  When she revealed it, we could NOT believe it.  It was from the Llama song!  All she did was slow it down, and write COMPLETELY ORIGINAL lyrics.  THAT is one example of what we (Adelaide and I) consider “good filk.”  Now if her lyrics had been something like the following (which I just now filked to the Llama song), it would have been, um, less good, shall we say? 
 But unfortunately, it is how a lot of filk is done.  It’s still kinda funny, but I would never perform it at a Bardic Circle, and certainly not at a competition.  In fact I have no plans ever to perform it!   


Here's a Viking 

There's a Viking 

And another little Viking

Fuzzy Viking

Funny Viking

Viking Viking rune


Viking Viking 

Kipper Viking

Tablet, beards, tomato, Viking

Viking Viking mushroom Viking 

Viking Viking rune


I was once a mead hall 

I lived in the past

But I never saw the way

The apple slayed the mast

I was only three years dead

But it told a tale

And now listen little child 

To the empty pail


Did you ever see a Viking

Kiss a Viking

On the Viking

Viking’s Viking 

Tastes of Viking

Viking Viking rune


Half a Viking

Twice a Viking 

Not a Viking

Farmer Viking 

Viking row bench

Splinter in a Viking 

Viking rune


Is that how it’s told now

Is it oh so old

Is it made of kipper juice

Long-ship, ankle, cold

Now my song is getting thin

I can’t sing in tune

Time for me to retire now

And become a rune



I believe I’m going to hell for that.


I will post what her actual lyrics are as soon as we get them from her.  Last Bardic Night she had forgotten some of her own words (this never happens, right Gerald?...shyaa).  


  From: T'Star [mailto:bedlamandmayhem at gmail.com] 
 Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2008 1:25 PM
 To: Ansteorran  Bardic list
 Subject: Re: [Bards] Filking
    Then you must consider that many modern songs are filk, the tunes are much older than the songs.  Many common hymns, and protest songs are actually filks (Even The Star Spangled Banner is technically a filk, Francis Scott Key's words were set to the tune of "The Anacreontic Song" a popular drinking song.)  The song "Green Fields of France" (also called "Flowers of the Forest") Which was a protest song is set to a traditional Irish melody.  While I would not recomend filking the Anacreontic Song unless you want to confuse your audience, the melody is only about 100 years post period.  In my opinion, worry about the feel more than anything else.  What mood is being created?  What mood do you want to create?  Is the audience going to throw things at you for performing THAT song (whatever that song is) at a serious competition?  It's the same guiding principle as governs any other peice, you likely wouldn't sing a dirge at a rolicking party.   You likely wouldn't sing a
 crazily comedic song at a solemn occasion.  Pick your pieces as suits your audience.  Filk according to your own tastes and persona.  Write to your own tastes and persona. 
    Most of my own stories come out of Russian Mythology, though many of them never were told the way I tell them.   We don't have records of every story any culture told, but the Fox is a common figure in Spanish stories.  Baba Yaga is a staple of Russian, so is Ivan the Fool, so it is possible to craft a story that sounds like it MIGHT have been told in Russia of my time period.  If I then set a tale to a Russian melody that happened to have been composed in the 1800s but has the feel of what music I could find from my period? (which is difficult since most of the traditional songs weren't written down in Russia until after Peter the Great.)  I'm fine with that, it is still believable.  I, personally, dislike blatantly modern tunes, but as Saint-Saëns demonstraited in his "Carnival of Animals"  He took two spritely tunes, transposed them down, slowed them down, and gave them to the double basoon and called it "The Elephant"  The origional pieces are almost unrecognizable
 so even a modern tune suitable re-worked might be made to be appropriate, so the question is, at this point in time what are you comfortable with?
    ~Svetlana Andrejevna Volkova
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