The Ballad Essay

1751 words - 7 pages

This essay is about the Ballad, contrasting how the ballad went from an oral tradition to the ballad form known today. The Ballad can be any narrative song, but in technical terms a ballad is a specific literary form. The word ballad comes from the Latin and Italian word “ballare,” meaning “to dance”. Collins, (1985). The second word translation of “ballade” comes from the French language and means "dancing song". Oxford, (1995). Therefore a ballad is a song that tells a story, and was originally a musical accompaniment to a dance.
Ballads are very old and were handed down orally through generation to generation before they began to be written down. Because of this, most of the surviving ballads have been greatly adapted as they were passed around. However, traditional ballads do share some features. The ballad is a narrative poem of popular origin usually very long, epic in style. The language is simple and is not sentimental. The poem can be about a relationship or an experience, good, bad, triumphant, or tragic, set to music. Hubbell (1923). Ch 235.
Furthermore the structure and tone is made up of verses of four lines, with a rhyming pattern, repartition is often found in the ballad, entire stanzas can be repeated, like a chorus, or a repeated with certain words changed. The verse form, sometimes called the "ballad metre”. A question and answer can be built into the stanza and there is a lot of dialogue, with the action often described in the first person. Two characters can talk to one another in alternating lines or stanzas. Hubbell, (1923).ch,235.
The core structure for a ballad is a quatrain, written with either a-b-c-b, or a-b-a-b rhyme scheme. "a" stands for one line ending, "b" for another, and "c" for another still. Because there are 2 "b" lines, they are the two lines that rhyme. The first and the third lines are iambic tetrameter, with four beats per line. The second and fourth lines are in trimeter with three beats per line. This follows all the way down the ballad Allison (1983). p1405.
In addition there are three main types of ballad: the folk ballad, the broadside ballad, and the literary ballad. The folk ballad belongs to the oral tradition usually from unknown writers and is passed on from singer to singer by word of mouth. The folk ballad is found among the illiterate and the semiliterate people. In many places it forms part of orally sung national literature. Hubbell, (1923). Ch 235.
In Britain the “Border Ballad”, came in, for example, “Bonny Barbara Allen” came from the border war between England and Scotland. Stories from the Robin Hood Legend were also ballads. The poets drew their material from community life, from local and national history, and from legends and folklore. Palmer (1979). ? Their tales are usually of adventure, war, love, death, violence, betrayal, and the supernatural. In places where the folk ballad remains as a living tradition, the bards not only recite ballads handed down through...

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