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Thursday, 2 February 2012

Ballad

A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. The ballad probably derives its name from medieval French dance songs or "ballares" (from which we also get ballet).

The traditional, classical or popular (meaning of the people) ballad has been seen as originating with the wandering minstrels of late medieval Europe.

Historically, the ballad was primarily intended for singing at the communal ring-dance, the refrains representing the chorus. The earliest example we have of a recognisable ballad in form in England is Judas in a 13th-century manuscript.

Geoffery Chaucer wrote several notable ballads such as complaint...to his empty purse.

Some stories of heroes were in ballad form and were originally meant to be chanted or sung. Such are the English Robin Hood ballads, and the American 'John Henry' and 'Casey Jones'.


Broadside ballads were a product of the development of cheap print in the 16th century. They were generally printed on one side of a medium to large sheet of poor quality paper. In their heyday in the 17th century, they were produced in huge numbers, with over 400,000 being sold in England annually by the 1660s. By then they were printed in black-letter or gothic type and included multiple, eye-catching illustrations, a popular tune tile, as well as an alluring poem.

During the romantic movement of the late 18th and early 19th century respected British literary figures like Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge both collected and wrote their own ballads, using the form to create an artistic product.  At the same time in Germany Goethe cooperated with Schiller on a series of ballads, some of which were later set to music by Schubert.

In 19th-century music the refined drawing-room ballad had a vogue, thanks to their popularity with the middle classes. They include After the Ball and Danny Boy.

Folk song played its part in the development of pop music. The most common use of the term ballad in contemporary music is for an emotional love song.

In Melbourne, singing an obscene ballad is punishable by six months in prison.

Source Wikipedia

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