Monday, October 11, 2010

Parody and Satire: Filk Songs

The Brobdingnagian Bards: If I Had 1,000,000 Ducats


John Anealio: Angels & Vampires


Filk Music is an eclectic genre based on that section of the bookstore which seems to think that fantasy and Sci-Fi are a single type of literature, and on those who ground their identity within the bookworlds which spring from those aisles. Its songs are not always parody songs by strict definition, and not always of the silly sort, but they fit the mold for the most part, in that they use the folk and bardic traditions to match existing melodies and songstyles with lyrics which tell of fantasy/scifi settings and, quite often, the particular worlds of a particular author or series. And though the internet has changed the anthropological ground for the filk song, spreading the songs farther than the late-night convention hallway circles where they were born, their lyrics and trope retain their casual, in-crowd nature.

For those who browse outside the SciFi/Fantasy shelves, and think of folk music as a narrow band of solo singer-songwriters with cheesy guitars, Filk may seem small indeed. To prove otherwise, today we bring you the filksongs of two very different musical acts: The Brobdingnagian Bards, my favorite pair of silly Celtic-slash-Renaissance Fair parodists, and Sci Fi Songwriter John Anealio, who doesn't actually self-define as filk, but tends towards electric poprock instrumentation and poignant community self-reflection much like the technologically-aware pop of Jonathan Coulton. Both are professional musicians, proving that there is a real market for this music even as the vast majority of filksong continues to come from amateurs in the community. And yes, both have written at least one song about Star Wars - though I think today's songs better represent the breadth of the genre in general.

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