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And I can write one hundred filks [Jan. 23rd, 2017|01:38 pm]

I am up to one hundred filk songs written now (depending a little on how one counts written, and how one defines filk; your definition of filk might give a lower amount). Not all of them are good (there are one or two that I'm fairly sure are utterly unsingable, at least by me), some are extremely obscure (like the songs based on not yet published books), some are hardly classifiable as filk, and some have not been published due to various reasons, but I think that's enough to do some statistics.


For anyone following my filks, it shouldn't come as a surprise that fandom itself is a major topic. 47 songs have fandom as their major topic. Even just taking filks that concern themselves with cons (either in general or more commonly with a specific con) would still be my largest topic, at 19 songs.

Fantasy (13) and Science fiction (11) are the next two major topics, and then other topics like songs about media franchises (8), computers (5), horror (2), children's songs (4), space (4), and other stuff round out the rest.

I have written relatively few songs about filk and filking, just 5 (these are included in the number of songs about fandom).

Graph over topics

There are two interesting differences in my fantasy songs compared to my science fiction songs. All my fantasy songs go back to six authors: Robert Jordan (2), Terry Pratchett (3), Ryk Spoor (5), JRR Tolkien, Mary Gentle, and PC Hodgell. The science fiction songs are much more spread out, with five songs each based on a single author, and four songs which concern science fiction stories or concepts. The only author associated with two songs is Isaac Asimov (one of them co-written with Swedish fan Rolf Strömgren). The fantasy songs are also much more likely to tell a story or describe a scene, while the science fiction songs that do the same are not associated with any specific author.

It seems that fantasy works are more likely to trigger my filking brain than reading science fiction. Not sure why that is. The reason I have so many Ryk Spoor filks is likely that I beta read his stories, one chapter at a time.

English songs by topic

When correlated with language, most of my fantasy songs are in English (10), probably partly because they are written about specific works or series, and associated with the language I read them in. It is telling that my Swedish fantasy filks are on the works of Terry Pratchett and JRR Tolkien, both of which I first encountered in Swedish. My science fiction songs are much more even between the languages, with four in English, six in Swedish, and one in Norwegian.

Swedish songs by topic

Another correlation with language is that I have far more songs about fandom written in Swedish, both in total (31) and in proportion (54.4%) than I have in English (16 and 38.1%). It is also of interest that all my songs about space are written in Swedish. It likely matters here that most of them are didactic in nature and written with my daughter in mind.

Base Song Authors

The 800 pound gorilla among the songwriters I have filked is the Swedish 18th century songwriter Carl Michael Bellman. 23 of my songs are based on his works. Some have been used multiple times, though; I have only filked 15 of his songs (which number well over 150, though far from all are commonly sung). One of his songs I have filked no less than eight times, but it has a very simple melody, and another I have filked twice.

Topics in my Bellman filks

As a songwriter Bellman was often comedic and burlesque. He was always a shrewd and compassionate observer of the people who populate his songs; people who often were the outcasts of society. As such, the majority of my Bellman filks concern fandom (13, 56.5%)), but most of them (19, 82.6%) are also in Swedish.

The next important songwriter is Joe Hill. I consider seven of my songs to have their origin with him. However, two of them are Swedish and English versions of the same song ("The Rebel Girl"), and the remaining five are probably more known today in their original forms that Joe Hill used as the base for his songs. Given their origin as working-class protest songs, almost all of them (6) concern fandom.

For most other songwriters I have only filked a single song, though sometimes I have filked the same song two or more times. Currently, the only songwriters where I have filked more than one base song, besides Bellman and Hill, are Hans Alfredson, Thore Skogman and Herman Sätherberg, all at two base songs.

Summing up, I have filked around 57 different songwriters, using 87 different base songs, into 100 total filk songs.

Base songs

In total I have filked 87 different base songs, , i.e. songs I have filked. All the songs I have filked more than once tends to have relatively short melodies, and all are in Swedish. Two were written by Bellman.

Fredmans sång 35 "Gubben Noach" (Bellman): 8
Trollmors vaggsång: 3
Mors namnsdag: 3
Bort alt hvad oro gör (Bellman): 2
Smålandssången: 2

All of these songs have received filks in both Swedish and English, in two cases (Trollmor and Mors namnsdag) with the English filk being a translation of my original Swedish filk. It is also of interest that all the songs here but those of Bellman has had a female writer or composer, despite that I have filked relatively few songs by female writers.


57 of my songs are in Swedish, 42 in English, and 1 in Norwegian.

My base songs show a different proportion. 71 are in Swedish, 28 in English, and 1 in Norwegian. In 78 of the songs, the base song and my filk use the same language.

Language of base and filk songs

Both Swedish: 53
Both English: 24
Swedish to English: 18
English to Swedish: 4
Both Norwegian: 1

(It should be mentioned that in two cases of the English to Swedish songs, there are prior Swedish translations of the English originals, and one of my filks is a translation of the English filk original to Swedish, leaving just one "pure" English to Swedish filk. That one is När Linköping räddade fandom, based on Henry Clay Work's "Marching Through Georgia".)

I think especially the count of Swedish base songs shows that I very much belong in a Swedish filk and music tradition, even when I happen to write in English.


The Swedish ballad tradition has part of its origin in poetry: a Swedish ballad—visa—can fruitfully be considered a sung poem, and terminology grounded in poetry and literature is common when discussing ballads. The ballad tradition has also had a huge influence on other Swedish music, both popular and choral.

One result of that is that many Swedish songs lack a chorus. They might repeat some lines, or vary them, but might just as well omit such lines entirely. This also shows in my filks.

First, more than half of my filks (54) do not have a chorus. Second, this is very much correlated to the base language of the song.

English base language: 23 with chorus / 5 without
Swedish base language: 23 with chorus / 48 without
Swedish without Bellman: 22 with chorus / 26 without

Bellman has a huge influence here, since of the 23 filks based on his songs, only one has a chorus!


Time period of my base songs:

18th century or earlier: 26
19th century: 10
20th century: 61

Bellman has an outsized influence here: I doubt there are many filkers who uses as high a proportion of 18th century songs. I also have a hard time filking modern music, as can be shown by the distribution of my 20th century filks:

1900s: 2
1910s: 10
1920s: 1
1930s: 8
1940s: 9
1950s: 4
1960s: 8
1970s: 7
1980s: 9
1990s: 3

Note: this statistic is based on the number of my filks, not on the number of base songs, so some base songs are counted double.

All my published filks can be found using the filk tag.

[User Picture]From: seawasp
2017-01-23 03:09 pm (UTC)
"Oh, I could write a hundred filks
And I could write a hundred more..."
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: kjn
2017-01-23 03:20 pm (UTC)
Where do you think I got the post title from? That song has been frequently filked.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: seawasp
2017-01-23 06:10 pm (UTC)
Has someone done one for an evil mastermind? I had the chorus in my head but I haven't had time to figure out the rest:

"Oh, I would plot five hundred schemes
And I would plot five hundred more
Just to be the Man Behind The Man.."
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: kjn
2017-01-23 07:12 pm (UTC)
No idea, but I know where people would know, or could write the rest of it, if they feel moved to.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)