Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Welcome to my Filk FAQ! If you stumbled here accidentally and aren't sure what this is all about, feel free to read What Is Filk? first. You can also browse all entries here.

Friday
Apr202007

What is Interfilk?

From the Interfilk Web site:

"Interfilk is a fan fund. Most fan funds raise money to transport a fan to a convention that they would not normally be likely to attend. In our case we raise money from filk fans to transport members of the filk community who have something special to share."

"The main goal of Interfilk is the promotion of cultural exchange through filk music. We provide the means and opportunity for talented members of the filk community to attend filk conventions they otherwise not be able to attend. This provides the opportunity to share performances, songwriting, organizing, publishing and other talents with a wider community than might otherwise be possible.

A secondary goal is promoting filk conventions by adding talented (though often not widely known) persons to their program. Interfilk tries to select guests who would draw people to see them again at another convention."

For info about how guests are chosen, fund-raising Interfilk auctions, etc., please see What is Interfilk on the Interfilk Web site.

Interfilk guests are sometimes chosen because of other filkers' recommendations.

My group, Urban Tapestry, was invited as Interfilk guests to ChonChord in 1994. It was a fantastic experience for us, and the first time visiting California for both Jodi and Allison.

Do you have an Interfilk story to share? Comments? Suggestions? Please post below:

Wednesday
Apr182007

Where can I find out more info about German filk?

There are several excellent German filk resources online.

Filk.De (in German), including a definition of filk, filkers' homepages, filk-related publications (including tapes, songbooks, and fanzines), conventions, mailing lists, workshops, and other resources. Hosted by Katy Dröge-Macdonald.

Filk.info (in German): Extensive German filk page with news, filk database, convention calendar, German filk history, con picture gallery etc. It also hosts German filk community resources, including a discussion forum, chatroom, and mailing list. Hosted by Kirstin & Volker Tanger.

Filkcontinental is Germany's main filk convention; information about the upcoming and all past conventions are available in English and German language, provided by Kirstin Tanger.

Filkshop.de is a source for filk recordings and publications in Germany.

Let's Filk About: This fanzine's tagline is "Fanzine für Filk, Folk, Science Fiction und Fantasy."

Also check out Juliane Honisch's essay, Filk Around Germany and Austria.

Comments? Suggestions? Please post below:
Wednesday
Apr182007

How do I record a CD on a small budget?

"I've had a number of people in the filk community ask if I have a CD available for sale. I'd *love* to record a CD, but I don't have a lot of money to do it. Any suggestions and advice?"

From Scott Snyder:

"Making a CD for SALE is a labor intensive process.

Live recordings in your living room are okay, but don't compare to the quality of recordings that are for sale on your filk dealer's table.

There is no cheap way to do it, although there are less expensive ways.

The first thing I would do is to talk to one of your friendly filk producers - Bill Sutton and Bill Roper spring to mind - talk to them about your material, what you'd like to do, and what they suggest. They have mysterious connections to the underworld of filk musicians, and can often times make magic for you. Or at least lend you equipment and expertise. :)

If you really want to do this all by yourself - you're going to need to invest in a few things. A recorder (don't use your computer, unless you have an isolation box for it and can keep the fan noise out of the recording) - for cheap recorders I'd recommend one of the cassette or now digital multitrack recorders from Tascam. They are good quality and very inexpensive.

You will need microphones. If it's you and a guitar, then you will want at least 2 microphones. I'd suggest SM58's for ease of use, versatility, and value. They can be had for about $100 each (or less).

Don't forget cables and connectors to attach all these things together, plus two mic stands, and a set of QUALITY pro Headphones.

You will need a reasonable room to do this in - not too noisy, with lots of padded stuff around. Living rooms can work great, actually.

Know your material cold, it will save you lots of rewinding.

Get a good "live" you and your guitar (or instrument) recording down. Don't worry about multi-tracking if you have no experience. It gets messy. A good clean recording of you singing your song will be worth more than a bad multi-track mix.

If you REALLY want to burn these yourself, then you will need connectors from your recorder to your sound card. You will want to invest in GOOD audio recording and editing software - something like Sound Forge.

You will have to do a good deal of digital editing and post in order to take your recording and turn it into tracks that you can then burn to a CD. Seek advice from the pros, it's too complicated for me to tell you how to do it here. :)

Just as far as gear goes - I did a quick pick through Musicians Friend and found the following:

Shure SM58 x2 @ $99
On Stage stands x2 @ $15
Sony MDR-7506 Headphones @ $99
Fostex MR8 8 Track digital recorder @ $300
Mogami Mic Cables x2 @ $20
Sony Screenblast Sound Forge @ $70

Total of my shopping cart is: $753.85

This is a reasonable rig, and you should be able to make basic singer/songwriter recording with it with ease. The digital recorder means no post-recording conversions. And it transfers .wav files to your PC through USB, so no dealing with noisy PCI sound cards.

So - to me, saying I want to record it myself inexpensively means less than $1000 USD. :)

So - I will say one more time - Talk to a filk producer. They already have the gear, and will be more than happy to help you out or steer you in the right direction. You should be concentrating on your MATERIAL - have good songs and be able to perform them well.

Oh - and don't forget the Mastering! ;)"

From Graham Leathers:

"That really starts to depend on how small your budget is. You can get the software to run on your computer, yes, but you still need a decent mic. The recording is only step one. Then there is mixing, mastering, printing and duplicating. Recording, mixing and mastering costs can be reduced considerably if you can do much of that yourself, though it does take time. The printing and such, there are small production houses that will, if you present them with a master and your cover art work, and they can do the rest for you at minimal cost and they don't make you do a large bulk run, either. Yes, you can crank them all out on your own CD burner, but that does take time. You may find you are able to make better use of your time farming that kind of work out. You will also get better quality printing and discs that way. Even so, you can still sell your CD's at $10.00 US or even a little less and still turn a profit."

From Daniel Faigin:

"The biggest question is whether you have a CD burner on your computer. If you do, the answer is easy. Connect your amplifier's output (the one you would normally plug into your tape deck for recording CDs) into the line in on your sound card. You can use Roxio sound editor to grab the sound (use the mic inputs on your amp). Do a search for a tool called 'CD Wave' to split apart the wave file, and burn, baby, burn."

From "Mandelbear" on LJ:

"I'm now starting the recording process for my first CD, which is being chronicled on mdlbear_albums -- which was set up by my daughter chaoswolf as a way of prodding me into action. Having a deadline also helps.

My current advice (with the disclaimer that I'm at the very beginning of the process) is to invest in (or borrow) some good microphones and a pro-quality soundcard that will record 24 bits (more dynamic range means less need to fiddle with the levels up front).

Take some time to figure out how you work best: separate guitar and voice tracks? Start with a guitar+voice guide track? Live concerts in your living room? Try them all,

I'll know more about the back end of the process (editing, mixing, mastering, and paying for the print run) when I get there."

Related FAQ topics:

How should/shouldn't I be marketing my CDs?


Comments? Suggestions? Please post below:
Tuesday
Apr172007

What are 'The Sams'/UK Filk Awards?

(Thanks to Lissa and Phil Allcock for the following info!)

The concept of UK filk awards dates back to the second UK filkcon, Con2bile, in 1990 where the committee for that Con decided some awards might be a fun thing to try. However, given the UK con is run by a different committee each year, the idea was not then pursued by successive committees, at least until Vibraphone in 1994 when another set were given out, this time for songs in the 4 years since Con2bile. Then followed another 4 year hiatus until the Decadence committee followed suit, again for songs in the 4 years since the last award set were given.

At this point, however, in stepped Philip and Lissa Allcock who were part of the committee to run Didgeridouze (filkcon 12). They went to the XIlophone (11) committee and offered to run awards there, having the cunning plan that if there were awards at cons 10, 11 *and* 12 that this would then hopefully create enough momentum for things to keep rolling on a regular basis thereafter. Also, since there was now something of a precedent for "in the last 4 years", Phil suggested making this a rolling 4 year window thus providing what seemed an ideal (if serendipitous) compromise between keeping the awards reasonably "current" and allowing time for songs to spread through the community. And the cunning plan worked, and Sams have been awarded (on that 4 year rolling window) at each UK convention since then.

Categories:



The awards given are Best Serious and Best Silly (both of which have a 4 year time limit, in that they must have been written (or first performed in some rare circumstances) within the 4 years previous to the filk con at which they are awarded) Filk Gold (defined as best song that is older than 4 years and that has not previously won a UK award) At Con - the award for the best performance at the convention (where it should be noted that this award is for the performer(s) not necessarily the songwriter. It should also be noted that it is a performance award rather than an award for the song per se, and this subtle distinction can be seen by looking at what it has been awarded to).

The awards are "UK filk awards" in that they are voted by the attending members of the main/annual UK filk convention and (because obviously the performances are fresh in mind) usually for songs performed at that convention. However, as a glance at the history will show, they are definitely not necessarily limited to UK recipients!

The Prizes:



Before they became "The Sams", the awards had given out either certificates or ornaments (bought or crafted) as prizes. Lissa however had the idea of getting some artist's figurines and giving out gold statuettes as per the Oscars. At which Phil, as is his wont, jokingly said "We could add a beard and call them the Sams" [taking after the bearded Soren Nyrond, the "Sam" of "Sam's Song"]. And so of course, they did, and "The Sams" have been awarded at every annual UK filkcon since, initially made and adminstered by Lissa and Phil, then latterly by Omega and Melusine.

The original idea was that the Sam figures would, like the Oscars, be essentially the same from year to year. However since Didgeridouze had a running joke involving cows, the award figurines for that con were "cow" painted, black spots on white. And as is so often the case in filk, twice maketh a tradition and ever since then the awards have been specifically tailored in some way to the name, artwork theme or running joke of each convention.

Conthirteena had a "2001" theme so the figurines were painted gunmetal to look like the monolith. Contabile-Fortean had a "little green men" alien theme so half size figurines were used, given antennae and painted green. Quinze was the first year where Omega took over the responsibility for making the awards and the level of imagination going into their construction shot up.

"The Quinze Filk Festival" had a movie theme and the figurines were gold again to embrace their Oscar origins but standing under golden palm trees. 16-Tones was in part a joke on Rhodri James's filk "16 Tomes", and so the figurines were sitting on a pile of 15 books, each with the name of a convention on the spine and with the details of which award had been won and by who written onto the front page of the 16th book held in the figurine's hands. For Dixseption the figures were painted to look like Nuns (for reasons which escape me - you'll need to ask Omega) carrying guitars, and the award details were written on the back of the guitars. 1812Tone was the "American" UK con, run by Americans (and those with a tenuous claim to American blood) so the figurines were painted to look like Uncle Sam, their top hats having a lift away section with the award details were written underneath. D'Zenove Convention had a Men in Black theme so the figurines were dressed in black outfits with sunglasses and hats, and the same clever lift away section on the hats again for the award details.

Ceremony and Administration:



Initially, the awards were reasonably low-key, being handed out at the closing ceremony. However, over the years it has become more glamorous because Melusine felt that Lissa was not applying sufficient pomp and circumstance. She does it "properly" with little gold envelopes with the lists of nominees and reading out the top 3 in reverse order - and she dresses up to the nines to do it too. It has also now become the tradition for the awards to be slightly earlier in the afternoon to enable them to be followed by a mini-concert in which the winners get to perform their songs once again.

Rumour in UK fandom still has it that these are run by Phil & Lissa Allcock. However, having subcontracted out the making of the awards the management of the voting and the running of the awards ceremony this is now largely untrue! What they do provide is the whiteboard for writing nominations onto, the pen to write with, standing up and promoting nominations at the start of the con and any sundry announcements that need to be made (such as not to use any pen other than the one provided because that a proper whiteboard pen) if they get asked to and paying for the awards out of excess funds generated by previous UK filk Conventions (now held in the UK Filk Management Fund).

You can find out more information about the UK filk awards at http://filk.co.uk/awards.html.
Monday
Apr162007

What are the Pegasus Awards?

From the OVFF Pegasus Awards page: "The Pegasus Awards were founded to recognize and honor excellence in filking. These awards are given annually at the Ohio Valley Filk Fest (or OVFF). Anyone with an interest in filk can nominate songs or individuals for the awards, and anyone can vote. You do not need to be a member of the convention to be involved in the nomination and voting process."

Currently awards are given in six categories: Best Song, Best Classic Filk Song, Best Performer, Best Writer/Composer and two topical categories that vary from year to year. "Some examples of past categories include: Best Love Song, Best Literature Song, Best Techie Song, Best Sing Along, Best Battle Song, Best Song that Tells a Story, etc."

Early in the year, a "brainstorming poll" is held online, where filkers are invited to send in suggestions for various category nominations, and these are posted on the Brainstorming Poll Results page. Filkers are then asked to send in actual nominations during the late spring and summer, and then the Finalist Ballot is distributed in the early fall. The entire process is administered by the OVFF convention committee.

The awards are presented at the Saturday night banquet at OVFF.

For more information, please see the Pegasus Awards page.