The Ballad

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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 s...

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