Ballads And Its Characteristics Edit

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Ballad Definition: Edit

 Any light, simple song, especially one of sentimental or romantic character, having two or more stanzas all sung to the same melody.

 A simple narrative poem of folk origin, composed in short stanzas and adapted for singing.

 A sentimental or romantic popular song.


Characteristics of Ballads: Edit

Ballads have strong associations with childhood. Much children's poetry comes in ballad form and English poets traditionally associated ballads with their national childhood as well. Ballads emphasize strong rhythms, repetition of key phrases and rhymes. If you hear a traditional ballad, you will know that you are hearing a poem. Ballads are meant to be song-like and to remind readers of oral poetry. Ballads do not have the same formal consistency as some other poetic forms, but one can look for certain characteristics that identify a ballad. These include the following:

• Simple language. Some ballads, especially older traditional ballads, were composed for audiences of non-specialist hearers or (later) readers. Therefore, they feature language that people can understand without specialist training or repeated readings. When later poets choose to write ballads, regardless of their intended audience, the choice of the ballad form generally implies a similar emphasis on simple language.

• Stories. Ballads tend to be narrative poems, that is, poems that tell stories, as opposed to lyric poems, which emphasize the emotions of the speaker.

• Ballad stanzas. The traditional ballad stanza consists of four lines, rhymed abcb (or sometimes abab--the key is that the second and fourth lines rhyme).

• Repetition. A ballad often has a refrain/chorus, which is a repeated section that divides segments of the story. Many ballads also employ incremental repetition, in which a phrase recurs with minor differences as the story progresses. 

• Dialogue. Ballads often incorporate multiple characters into their stories. Often, since changes of voice were communicated orally, written transcriptions of oral ballads give little or no indication that the speaker has changed. Writers of literary ballads, the later poems that imitate oral ballads, sometimes play with this convention.

• Third-person objective narration. Ballad narrators usually do not speak in the first person (unless speaking as a character in the story), and they often do not comment on their reactions to the emotional content of the ballad.

The Traditional Ballads: Edit

Traditional ballads are narrative folk songs or folk songs that tell stories. These stories include histories, legends, fairy tales, animal fables, jokes, and tales of outlaws and star-crossed lovers. Ballad is a term also used in the recording industry for slow, romantic songs, but these should not be confused with traditional or folk ballads. Many traditional ballads came to North America with settlers from Europe. Others were composed in North America and tell stories or relate ideas, that tell us about the attitudes and experiences of the nation as it developed.

Some older ballads derive from songs composed by traveling minstrels, who made their living through song in the houses of noblemen. Minstrels composed narrative songs describing love stories, historical battles and events, legends, and journeys to far off lands. As these songs were intended as entertainment, they had meters and melodies appropriate for dancing and were often sung with musical accompaniment. Early ballads, which in English date to before 1600, may also be derived from other medieval sources, including metrical romances, folk tales, and apocryphal gospels.

The Literary Ballads: Edit

The literary ballad is a narrative poem created by a poet, in imitation of the old anonymous folk ballad. Usually the literary ballad is more elaborate and complex; the poet may retain only some of the devices and conventions of the older verse narrative. Literary ballads were quite popular in England during the 19th century. Examples of the form are found in Keats's "La Belle Dame sans Merci," Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," and Oscar Wilde's "The Ballad of Reading Gaol." In music, a ballad refers to a simple, often sentimental, song, not usually a folk song.

You can download and view a Ballad Brochure by clicking on the link below:

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