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Filk music is a musical culture, genre, and community tied to science fiction/fantasy/horror fandom and a type of fan labor.The genre has been active since the early 1950s, and played primarily since the mid-1970s.Attempts have been made to define filk based on various criteria.Filk has been defined as folk music, usually with a science fiction or fantasy theme, but this definition is not exact.Filkers have been known to write filk songs about a variety of topics, including but not limited to tangentially related topics such as computers and cats.In addition, while the majority of filk songs are in the folk style, other styles such as blues, calypso, and even rock appear from time to time.
The social aspect of filk as contrasted with the "performer vs.
audience" dichotomy of much of modern music was described in a speech by ethnomusicologist Dr. By any of these definitions, filk is a form of music created from within science fiction and fantasy fandom, often performed late at night at science fiction conventions, though there are now dedicated filk conventions in Canada, England, Germany, and the USA. For example, filking overlaps with the singing and music performed by participants in the Society for Creative Anachronism or at LARPs.
In keeping with the folk-culture roots of filk, the musical styles and topics of filk music are eclectic.
While a plurality of filk is rooted firmly in acoustic-instrument folk music, other pieces and artists draw inspiration from rock, a cappella vocal groups, or other styles.
The hobbyist and itinerant nature of filk events (especially filk circles) gives some advantages to acoustic-vocal soloists and small groups, who need only carry a lightweight instrument or two and whose rehearsals do not need to balance scheduling logistics against regular work and other obligations.
One of the few rock-style groups in filk has been Ookla the Mok, whose studio recordings use techniques common in modern rock.