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From The Jargon File,
v. 4.3.1

filk /filk/ n.,v.

[from SF fandom, where a typo for `folk' was adopted as a new word]

Originally, a popular or folk song with lyrics revised or completely new lyrics and/or music, intended for humorous effect when read, and/or to be sung late at night at SF conventions. More recently (especially since the late 1980s), filk has come to include a great deal of originally-composed music on SF or fantasy themes and a range of moods wider than simple parody or humor. Worthy of mention here because there is a flourishing subgenre of filks called `computer filks', written by hackers and often containing rather sophisticated technical humor.

But don't let that
stop you

Many filkers are not terribly fond of the above definition, as it fails to capture the breadth and diversity of this vital musical tradition. Geek Musique specializes in, well, geek musique, and frankly we're not quite sure how it fits into Filk as a whole, so we present various resources so you can form your own view.

See Filk as Folk Music...

...to further develop your understanding of filk, folk, and how it relates to geek musique.

   


Beware of Geeks bearing gifts

Since the early days of computing, geek musique has been an important element of geek culture. It seems to be a natural outgrowth of long hours staring at code -- the mind wanders, needs a break, and suddenly, writing alternative lyrics to the music of the day becomes far more attractive than taking another whack at that recalcitrant algorithm.

One imagines a solitary Comp Sci student, cranking on that compiler project late into the night. A tune's been running through their mind, and suddenly the words just start tumbling out. Yellow Subroutine...I've Been Workin' on a Kernel...Fifty Ways to Hose Your Code -- it's just too good not to share. Soon the newly minted masterpiece is making the rounds of the newsgroups and another fifteen minutes of fame is duly apportioned.

The amazing thing is, once launched, these masterpieces seem to never stop floating around the net. Soon as you think it's died down, someone pulls it off some site and sends it to a couple friends. Next thing you know, it's back in circulation. Some items in the Geek Musique canon have been making the rounds for two decades or more.

It's not mere chance that these alt lyrics enjoy such wide distribution. For anyone with at least a passing knowledge of things Techie, this stuff is really funny. And sometimes, when the lyricist strikes at the heart of a field where you yourself have labored, the song hits such a responsive chord that it becomes almost your own. You send it off to the two people in the universe who truly understand what you're going through, and the cycle begins anew...

   
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