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What is Filk Music?

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Filk, a perversion of the word folk, is the traditional music of science fiction fandom, sung at SF conventions around this world (and possibly others). The word started off as a typographical error in a Con program announcement, and caught on. An outgrowth of the American folk music revival of the 'sixties, filks are often written as parodies to existing melodies, and are frequently accompanied by guitar. The earliest example which I remember (there probably are earlier ones) actually predates my knowledge of the term filk: Dr. John Boardman's humorous 1961 "Asteroid Light" space chanty, sung to the tune of the popular "Eddystone Light" sea chanty. Filks generally deal with SF, fantasy, technology, space travel, and related scientific themes.

Dr. SETI's songs are examples of the sub-species known as science filk, in which the lyrics need to be true to scientific fact, as we understand it. Dealing as they do with SETI and radio astronomy, these songs are intended to pay tribute to the giants of SETI: those individuals and facilities which have contributed to today's understanding of the cosmos, and our place within it. A sample lyric:

My satellite antenna is pointed at the sky,
But I'm not watching television. Let me tell you why.
I'm searching for existence proof of any alien race
By sifting through the microwaves that fall from outer space.
I am part of the search that's known as SETI.
I'm a believer, with a good receiver.
There are coherent signals beaming at me,
And when I find one, then I'll say "Wow!"

speaker You can read a whole bunch more of Dr. SETI's songs here, or hear them in his CD-Book Tune In The Universe!

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this page last updated 14 June 2007
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