Fantasy Filk Songs
I am not a big believer in genre divisions. To me there are two kinds of songs: good ones and those that are not so good. But most people swear by genre. They won't listen to it, unless it fits neatly within a certain category. It's a way to categorize music, fiction and even people.
Filk music is an example. What makes it filk? Is it the chord choices? The subject matter? The artists? I don't know. But I do know that even within filk, there are genre divisions. This hub is dedicated to fantasy filk.
Leslie Fish's Website
The biggest contributor to filk music in general is Leslie Fish. She does everything. She composes, she writes lyrics and she performs. If she's not the one singing it, there's still a very good chance that she wrote it. If she didn't write the lyrics, nine times out of ten, she wrote the music.
In the filking circles, there's a great deal of misattribution going on. For some reason, we tend to think of the song as belonging to the performer. But the perfomer in many cases didn't write it.
The most famous (and in some circles infamous) fantasy filk is "Horsetamer's Daughter." Naturally, the words and music were written by Leslie Fish. The fantasy setting is Darkover, a series written by Marion Zimmer Bradley, but the story told in the song is strictly a Leslie Fish creation. The performer in the video I have embedded is Julia Ecklar.
Lyrics to "Horsetamer's Daughter" by Leslie Fish
"Horsetamer's Daughter" is an unusually long filksong, and that is why it requires two YouTube videos to cover it. This is also why, in certain filk circles, some groan at the thought of having to sit through all of it.
There are those who also complain that it is too "ose." Ose is supposed to be "sad" and "Horsetamer's Daughter" is a song with a happy ending, and yet it seems that any ballad with heroic overtones qualifies as ose.
Horsetamer's Daughter is my favorite fantasy filksong. It's one of those things that you either love or hate. There has been many a satirical song written about "Horsetamer's Daughter", the most famous of these starting with the words "There once was a traveling salesman..."
However, only really good songs get satirized in the first place. So before you make up your own mind, or start writing filks mocking it, you should first listen to the original "Horestamer's Daughter" in all its uncut glory!
Horsetamer's Daughter -- Part One
Horsetamer's Daughter, Part Two
Many of the fantasy filk songs that I like, if not written entirely by Leslie Fish, have lyrics penned by Mercedes Lackey and music by Leslie Fish. Most of these songs used to be sung by Julia Ecklar in the position of lead singer. Lately, Heather Alexander has taken over that role. For instance, the first time I heard "Kerowyn's Ride", Julia Ecklar was singing the part of Kerowyn, while Leslie Fish sang the grandmother's part. In the video I have embedded here, Leslie Fish is still the grandmother, but Heather Alexander is Kerowyn.
"Kerowyn's Ride" is available on Misty Lackey's website in the CD "Magic, Moonlight and Madness", in which all the lyrics are by Lackey and all the music is by Fish.
Kerowyn's Ride sung by Leslie Fish and Heather Alexander
Lyrics to Kerowyn's Ride by Mercedes Lackey
- Kerowyn\'s Ride song lyrics by Mercedes Lackey
Kerowyn's Ride Kerowyn Kerowyn, where are you going? Dressed in men's clothing, a sword by your side Your face pale as death, and your eyes full of fury Kerow
"Golden Eyes" is another of my favorites. It was in "The Horsetamer's Daughter" songbook put out by Off Centaur many and many a year ago, in the golden age of filk.
Lyrics to Golden Eyes by Mercedes Lackey (Tune by Leslie Fish)
Heather Alexander Songs
I only recently discovered "The Captive" on YouTube. I really like it. My favorite line is the one that goes like this: "`Good my lord,' said the mage, with a low humble bow, though his eyes were not humble at all."
Anyway, I'm not exactly sure what the proper attribution is in the case of "The Captive." I believe Heather Alexander is the singer, and Mercedes Lackey is the lyricist. The song is available on the CD "Freedom, Flight and Fantasy." Misty Lackey's website describes the music for this CD as being composed by Leslie Fish and arranged by Cecilia Eng.
Lyrics to Threes by Lackey and Fish
A recording of "Threes" is available from Merecedes Lackey's website on the album "Heralds, Harpers and Havoc." It's a staple fantasy filk from the days of the "Horestamer's Daughter" songbook.
What Makes It Fantasy Filk
What makes a filk song fit into the fantasy category? I'm not sure. But here are some features that many fantasy filk songs share:
- Minor Key
- Celtic influence -- Pentatonic scale, certain preferred chord patterns, plain major and minor chords, no key changes, songs consisting of verse and chorus and no bridge.
- Marion Zimmer Bradley universe.
- Based on a book whose cover labels it fantasy.
- Involves swords and sorcery, humans transforming into other animals, and other animals helping humans to battle evil forces.
- Narrative Poetry: Many fantasy filks tell a story. They tend to be romantic, heroic literature.
- Archaic language, in terms of both vocabulary and syntax.
For me, listening to a fantasy filk song is finding a place where poetry, music and story are equally important, and where the position of the bard is restored to its ancient glory.
(c) 2010 Aya Katz
What is Ose?
Mineral Rights by Leslie Fish
A Dirge for Sabis
Books By Mercedes Lackey
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