Filking Styles

There was a local house filk yesterday, and as usual I skipped it. While talking with Heather in bed this morning, my avoidance of house filks for most of the last 10 years came up, and I realized I’d never really told anyone what is going on.

First off – our local filks tend to be done in the Chaos style. I hate Chaos. I have good reason to hate Chaos. It tends to be (locally at least) about the mood, and I’m a mild spectrum autistic. I can’t sense mood very well, and even when I do I get it wrong pretty often. So I hate playing in a Chaos circle because nothing that’s happening makes any sense.

My personal preference is Bardic. Bardic came out of west coast fandom. West Coast fandom tends to run heavily towards computer programmers, and computer programmers tend to have a higher than average level of autism spectrum disorders…

So West Coast fandom evolved a method that allows those who can’t sense a mood to play, while locally if you can’t sense a mood you end up upsetting people. Of course I also never did tell anyone what the problem is, so it’s partly my fault as Heather pointed out. In future I’ll do that.


4 thoughts on “Filking Styles

  1. That’s me in a nutshell. I’m too afraid to interrupt someone left I get them upset, and at the same time, others interrupt me.
    Then I was in a housefilk where the host would always interrupt, saying, “I have to follow that up.” After about 5-6 years of that (among other reasons), I stopped going.

  2. Even in chaos circles, you aren’t required to follow mood or topic. Doing so can be an entertaining game, an excuse to haul out songs you haven’t done in a while or to toss out a song and see if folks can guess why you think it’s appropriate… but you’re always free to break the chain. The next person can then either follow your new lead, or skip back to the previous topic/mood, or go off in their own direction, as they see fit.

    The guy who “has” to follow everything is filkhogging, and should be discouraged from doing so. (The fact that he _can_ doesn’t mean he _should_.) This is why I’m a firm believer in having a moderator at a chaos circle — either officially, or just someone who’s sufficiently respected that they can say “Hey, I’m hearing too much of the same people — who hasn’t performed recently, and would like to?”

    MASSFILC’s circles have evolved toward being “polite chaos” — unstructured, but folks try not to hog the spotlight and try to gently encourage the quiet folks to come forward.

    Personally, I like bardic because it’s self-managing and because it makes explicit windows for the timid folks to step forward, and if run properly (if folks are prepared when their turn comes) it isn’t actually less efficient. Some folks complain that bardic takes too long before their turn comes around, without realizing that this by definition means they’ve been filkhogging a bit… If you’re concerned about time lost to the mechanics of bardic, the various poker-chip non-topological bardic circles can be almost as fast as chaos (though they too need a moderator to break ties when the chips are flying fast.)

    [I’m presuming that the readers (those who care, anyway) know what we mean when we say bardic, chaos, hymnal, and so on. If not, there are good definitions in the Filk FAQ website.]

    1. I’ve always leaned towards Bardic myself. The dominant local style is Chaos, which if everyone knows everyone else really well can work, but our local circle tends to be too heavily into Mood or Topic, and I’m not patient enough to stay on Mood/Topic for long.

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