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Folklore: What is a ballad?

BB 08 Mar 08 - 01:47 PM
RTim 08 Mar 08 - 01:52 PM
Carol 08 Mar 08 - 02:17 PM
Stringsinger 08 Mar 08 - 02:26 PM
Leadfingers 08 Mar 08 - 02:36 PM
Doc John 08 Mar 08 - 02:37 PM
GUEST,Chicken Charlie 08 Mar 08 - 05:36 PM
RTim 08 Mar 08 - 07:23 PM
RTim 08 Mar 08 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,leeneia 08 Mar 08 - 10:08 PM
BK Lick 08 Mar 08 - 11:51 PM
reggie miles 09 Mar 08 - 12:11 AM
Slag 09 Mar 08 - 01:04 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Mar 08 - 03:34 AM
Doc John 09 Mar 08 - 06:39 AM
GUEST,Chicken Charlie 09 Mar 08 - 11:10 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Mar 08 - 02:37 PM
Art Thieme 09 Mar 08 - 09:40 PM
Stringsinger 09 Mar 08 - 10:34 PM
GUEST,Chicken Charlie 10 Mar 08 - 12:33 AM
GUEST,Aaron 10 Mar 08 - 10:42 AM
GUEST,Chicken Charlie 10 Mar 08 - 12:52 PM
BB 10 Mar 08 - 04:37 PM
Doc John 10 Mar 08 - 04:45 PM
Jim Carroll 11 Mar 08 - 04:21 AM
GUEST,PMB 11 Mar 08 - 04:53 AM
Malcolm Douglas 11 Mar 08 - 05:32 AM
Brian Peters 11 Mar 08 - 06:22 AM
GUEST,Valmai Goodyear 11 Mar 08 - 06:52 AM
Wolfgang 13 Mar 08 - 05:25 PM
Malcolm Douglas 14 Mar 08 - 06:55 AM
GUEST,PMB 14 Mar 08 - 07:03 AM
Valmai Goodyear 14 Mar 08 - 10:04 AM
GUEST,PMB 14 Mar 08 - 10:22 AM
MartinRyan 14 Mar 08 - 11:16 AM
MartinRyan 14 Mar 08 - 11:20 AM
Mr Happy 14 Mar 08 - 01:07 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 14 Mar 08 - 06:51 PM
Slag 14 Mar 08 - 07:02 PM
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Subject: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: BB
Date: 08 Mar 08 - 01:47 PM

OK, we all know what ballads are, as opposed to just any old folk songs. But do we? What's your definition of a ballad? I'd really like to know.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: RTim
Date: 08 Mar 08 - 01:52 PM

A Story Song! Where the narrative is the strength of the song and it can be in any "person" and even change person.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Carol
Date: 08 Mar 08 - 02:17 PM

Yes - a song that tells a story but it doesn't have to be 40+ verses long, thank goodness!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 08 Mar 08 - 02:26 PM

A narrative song that has a theme which is transmitted aurally down through the ages.
When I visited the Field Museum in Chicago, I saw an early 15th century Chinese depiction of a sailor who asked questions of a young maiden to determine her loyalty to him. She didn't recognize him. A bulb went off. This is the "John Reilly" ballad.

These themes pop up again and again in ballads. Often the story is changed slightly
but the theme remains in tact.

The ballad Mary Hamilton goes back to Russia centuries before Joan Baez sang it.

My wife is named Mary Hamilton but as she states so often, "I don't lose my head
over it".

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 08 Mar 08 - 02:36 PM

The Elder Berrys - As Portway Pedlars- were doing a ballad session ar a festival - invited me to go along ! When I said I dont sing Ballads , they said a Ballad is ANY song that tells a story !! That works for me !


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Doc John
Date: 08 Mar 08 - 02:37 PM

Hello Frank Hamilton,
Good to see you here again.
There's a site dedicated to Cisco and they would dearly love to hear from you and anyone else who knew him.
Mary Q of Scots did indeed have 'Four Marys' and two were named Beaton and Seaton; you'll be glad to know that there wasn't a Hamilton (nor a Carmichael) and no report of infanticide. The Russian story was taken up enthusiastically by John Knox who gave Mary a rough time.
Ballad does mean in the narrowest sense a narrative song but the word has been so extended to 'Ballad of the Boll Weevil' - great song but hardly a narrative. In pop music it seems to refer to sentimental songs
Barbara, I love 'em the longer the better!
Doc John


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie
Date: 08 Mar 08 - 05:36 PM

IMO, a ballad tells a story, but there's more.

Because a story is being told, the point of view (POV) is objective; it is outside the teller. Jesse James robbed some banks and Robert Ford killed him; those are the facts, ma'm, and I'm going to at most gently imply how I think you should feel about them. George Alley died trying to slow his locomotive down, so when it hit the rockslide, the impact would be less and passengers/crew would not be injured/killed. Those are the facts, and I'm not going to hit you over the head with the emotional reaction.

Now the flip side of a ballad (a non-ballad, if you will) is a lyric. A lyric (not word-set) is a short poem (set to music), dealing with an ephemeral emotional state--usually love or lust, wherever your personal deliniation between those two is--or anger, grief, whatever. If I sing a good lyric, there won't be a dry eye in the house, and I still can see blue velvet through my tears. A lyric is a subjective form. I feel ... I want ... I love ... I need...

Ballads reinforce tribal solidarity and teach moral lessons.

There's many a man with a face young and fair,
Who starts out in life with a chance to be square.
Just like poor Billie they wander astray--
They'll all lose their lives in the very same way.

So watch it, kid. But you're a brave engineer like Charlie Snyder or George Alley, or even Casey Jones, and you buy the farm trying to minimize the "collateral damage" of a wreck, then we, your fellow tribespersons, will write songs about you and be sure everybody knows what a noble thing you did. You could have just said 'to hell with it' and jumped. You don't get that kind of message from "Delta Dawn."

Finally, lyrics these days tend to get copyrighted, and the infringement police come knock you down if you do a George Harrison and use somebody else's. Sure, you can write a ballad today, but most of them coincidentally are old enough to be public domain. It's possible to "cover" a lyric and give it a new interpretation. That happens now and then. It's easier, and far more common, IMO, for people to reinterpret ballads. Folk singing, to me, is like the blues in that respect; both use "innovation within limits."

One old fogey's opinion--

Chicken Charlie
Chicken Charlies' California Minstrels


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: RTim
Date: 08 Mar 08 - 07:23 PM

Hey Leadfingers - I LOVE your name for Len & Barbara - The Elder Berries - Priceless!
L & B are very good old old friends who I have not seen (or heard) enough in the last 15 years - ie. since my life has changed so much from those glory days in Oxfordshire!!

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: RTim
Date: 08 Mar 08 - 07:24 PM

Sorry all - after a bottle of wine to be soooooo off subject!

Tim R


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 08 Mar 08 - 10:08 PM

It tells a story.
It has to rhyme and be metrical (within reason).
It should have a tune people can remember.
As opposed, for example, to the sound track of 'Wicked.'
It almost certainly can be broken into verses of equal size.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: BK Lick
Date: 08 Mar 08 - 11:51 PM

This sure does take me back -- in 1951 I was twenty years old, sitting in University of Chicago's Mandel Hall, spellbound by John Jacob Niles holding forth before a worshipful audience, and interejecting over and over again "A ballad is a song that tells a story."
The ballad was the perfect vehicle for John Jacob Niles's performance art.. Ballads are, simply, stories told in song -- and Niles ws a consummate story teller. The dramatic content of the narrative was perfectly matched to Niles's dramatic stage delivery honed by years of operatic training. As Niles once commented, "To be a folk singer, a man must first be an actor, then maybe he might get to be a singer." ... In later years, Niles even began acting out the ballads with the aid of props. While singing "Hangman" he caressed his cello-shaped dulcimer like a lover and swung the dulcimer to and fro as though she were trapped in the hangman's noose. The murder ballad "Pretty Polly" was frequently told in the first person as though Niles was the lover who stabbed Polly. At the climactic moment, Niles would take a case knife out of his pocket and plunge it repeatedly into Polly's imaginary breast until the listener could practically see "her heart's blood flow."
-- Ron Pen, from the introduction to The Ballad Book of John Jacob Niles
Here's a YouTube clip of Niles singing "Go 'Way From My Window" taken from the documentary No Direction Home.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: reggie miles
Date: 09 Mar 08 - 12:11 AM

Well, I guess I'm a prime example of someone who tells stories in his songs. I guess it's something that just kinds rubbed off from playing interpretations of older ballads like The Ballad of the Rock Island Line.

The art of offering such story songs is a challenging one. As Carol pointed out, some of these tales have many verses and in that respect they strike me as being more story than song. I find myself having some difficulty trying to keep track of exactly what is going on in some of the more lengthy ones. That short attention span may be a byproduct of growing up in this sound bite culture we seem to be living in.

Most djs today won't evwen consider spinning your song unless its length falls under a certain predetermined time limit. I think that's somewhere between 3 and 4 minutes. Though, I guess, with today's variety of musical choices online there have got to be stations to suit even a balladeer lover's joy of lengthy offerings.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Slag
Date: 09 Mar 08 - 01:04 AM

Correct me if I'm wrong but I always understood a ballad was a poem or a song which told a story but always came back to a repeated refrain. You can almost always identify the song by the refrain. Some times the refrain has variations but it is always recognizable. Some examples are (and forgive me if they are not all "folk"):

"...But the point of a gun was the only law
    that Liberty understood and when it came
    to shootin' straight and fast, a law book was no good."

"...But way up there He'll hear our prayer and
    show us where there's water, cool, clear, water."

"...Oh Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea
    and frolicked in the Autumn mist
    in a land called Honalee (?)"

"...No the circle will be unbroken, by and by Lord
    by and by..."

"...Hear a few grey Federales say, 'Could have had him any day,
    We only let him slip away," out of kindness I suppose."

"...Hey Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me. I'm not sleepy   
    and there is no place I'm going to..."

I think it is sometimes hard to distinguish between a refrain and a chorus. Chorus is a separate topic and perhaps should have it's own thread. Let's see how the discussion goes.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Mar 08 - 03:34 AM

Ballads:
'The Muckle (Big) Sangs' (probably Hamish Henderson).
'The High Watermark of the Tradition' (Ewan MacColl).
Songs stripped down to narrative which, contain little description and extraneous commentary.
Can consist of a couple or dozens of verses, (just as a good book can have a couple of hundred or a thousand pages), but only people who don't like them bother to count them (if they are sung well enough).
Dictionary definition of a ballad;
A narrative poem, often of folk origin, and intended to be sung, consisting of simple (sic) stanzas and usually (sic) having a recurrent refrain.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Doc John
Date: 09 Mar 08 - 06:39 AM

Is Rock Island Line a ballad? It seemed to start as a work song with a repetitive chorus and obscure (altho probably not to the singers) verses thrown inbetween. Or so were the early versions recorded by the Lomaxes. Then Lead Belly added some interpolations to progressively build it into some kind of story of trickery, a process that was continued by Lonnie Donegan.
Dr John


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie
Date: 09 Mar 08 - 11:10 AM

Re. Jim's comment--yes, if you go back to the POETRY /I'm not shouting, I just can't do italics/ aspect, there is a tightly prescribed set of specs for a ballad form in poetry--also for a lyric form, way back to Greek lyric poets Inc., in the BC/BCE days.

Many ballads have refrains, but IMO I don't "require" a song to have a refrain to be a ballad. "Battle of Harlaw," probably my fave from all the British Isles, has no refrain but tells a story. Then there's "Barrett's Privateers" sung by Stan Rogers, that not only has a refrain, it has a second line that never varies. Out of eight lines per verse-chorus, only three change. Takes for bloody ever to move the action along.

Doc John--

I wouldn't consider "RIL" a ballad per se, but you bring up an interesting point. I think that RIL, Cumberland Gap and possible several other songs originated mainly because a rhythm was desired. If I play Cumberland Gap for a crowd of folks milling around, if there's a clog dancer within 4.3 miles, they will come to it like a moth to a flame and start stomping away. [I hate it--they get more props from the crowd than I do. :)] I believe the "verses" to Cumberland Gap started as just improv bits of fluff tossed out by the musicians in a disconnected way. Then some overly retentive person such as myself came along and connected the verses or arranged them chronologically or somehow. My point is that Cumberland Gap as I sing it now is a ballad about one guy living there, with all the family antecedents, but I'll but originally it was nothing so organized. RIL was perhaps originally a random set of comments which were arranged into a song--actually two songs, considering that there is the railroad version and the Leadbelly work song version, which has nothing of the dialog of the engineer and the whatsis load-checker dude. "I foo'd you ! I foo'd you! I got pig iron! I got pig iron! I got a-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l pig iron!"

Chicken Charlie


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Mar 08 - 02:37 PM

Chicken Charlie,
Agree entirely about no need for refrain - that's the definition that came to hand
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 09 Mar 08 - 09:40 PM

Ballads are narratives of a story.
They are stanzaic, unlike novels which have chapters.
Each stanza in a ballad furthers the story.

Frank Sinatra said he sang ballads, but that is a cow of a different color.

To ere is human, to forgive, bovine!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 09 Mar 08 - 10:34 PM

Hi Doc John,

Thanks. Good to see you as well.


>There's a site dedicated to Cisco and they would dearly love to hear from you and >anyone else who knew him.

Thanks again. I'll check it out.

>Mary Q of Scots did indeed have 'Four Marys' and two were named Beaton and Seaton; >you'll be glad to know that there wasn't a Hamilton (nor a Carmichael) and no report of >infanticide. The Russian story was taken up enthusiastically by John Knox who gave >Mary a rough time.

Interesting. I guess these other old Celt names were added in transmission.

>Ballad does mean in the narrowest sense a narrative song but the word has been so >extended to 'Ballad of the Boll Weevil' - great song but hardly a narrative.

The version I know is in the first person and has an order of verses. I guess you could
say it wasn't a narrative but it is a story in a sense. It follows the progression of
the damage the weevil caused and wound up with the farmer's wife's dress.

The ballad in a 20's,30's or 40's is often called a "standard". These were principally show songs that were slow and romantic. They generally contain sophisticated harmonies and are found in the repertoire of jazz singers. In the context of a musical show, they were contrasted from rhythm numbers (dance routines), comedy numbers, or scene songs (between two or more people). There was a very famous "Ballad of Mack the Knife"
employed by Weill and Brecht in the Three Penny Opera but this was in a folk-style closer to the folk ballad. Sinatra, Bennett, Stafford, Fitzgerald, Crosby were its practitioners.
The themes were generally unrequited love, love, or just paeans in general such as "You'll Never Walk Alone" by R and H.

I think the clue to the use of the term lies in the fact that many of these "standards" fit into a theatrical context to enhance the "book" of a show. The "ballad" as we know it
tends to be slow and the love songs we call "standards" do tell a story at least in the mind of the singer/character. So the word "ballad" somewhere crossed over into the musical theater.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie
Date: 10 Mar 08 - 12:33 AM

Yes, I've seen song books with titles like "14 Great Ballads," the contents of which are all just particularly saccharine lyrics (in the sense I used above) like "Love Me Tender." Good song. Not a ballad.

CC


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: GUEST,Aaron
Date: 10 Mar 08 - 10:42 AM

I know this might be a loose definiton, but would "Hide Your Love Away" be considered a ballad?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie
Date: 10 Mar 08 - 12:52 PM

Re. Hide Your Love:

What hits you first, feelings or a narrative? Re-do from start.

Sinatra used "ballad" in the other sense; what I referred to as the particularly saccharine lyric type-deal. Not that old blue eyes was particularly saccharine; I like listening to him. He just didn't do ballads in the "folk" sense.

CC


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: BB
Date: 10 Mar 08 - 04:37 PM

Thanks for your thoughts.

Yes, I really wasn't thinking of a definition of 'ballads' in the present-day popular song sense, but of traditional or traditional-style ballads.

It's interesting, because we are booked to lead a Ballad Forum, and we would wish first to define what is meant by the word. We have our own thoughts but it's useful to have others.

C'mon Brian, Malcolm, etc. Where are you?

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Doc John
Date: 10 Mar 08 - 04:45 PM

Can anyone explain how 'ballad' came to be applied to a sentimental song? I suppose the word 'blues' is similar: it's often stuck onto the end of a song title when it's nothing like a blues even in the widest sense. It probably helped sales when blues were very popular. Some blues singers too have material which certainly isn't 'blues' - Blind Blake for example. 'Davison-Wilder Blues' is one that comes to mind: a wonderful Hedy West song but no way a blues. Topic years ago issued 'Woody Guthrie's Blues' with 'Hard Travelling' '1913 Massacre' etc.
Doc John


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Mar 08 - 04:21 AM

Hi Barbara,
Try Funk and Wagnall - nice definition there. Reluctant to put it up (6 pages) but it covers all the salient points (happy to post it if you want).
Thumbnail
Narrative song developed in the Middle Ages in Europe.
Varies considerably with time and place......
A ballad is narrative; a ballad is sung; a ballad belongs to the folk in content, style and designation; a ballad focuses on a single incident; a ballad is impersonal, the action moving of itself by dialogue and incident quickly to the end.
A ballad is story. Of the four elements to all narrative - action character, setting and theme - the ballad emphasises the first.......
And there's more.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: GUEST,PMB
Date: 11 Mar 08 - 04:53 AM

I'm surprised nobody's pointed out that the mediaeval origin of 'ballad' is in dance- "balar entre nos" - and suggests that the words were originally sung (perhaps improvised) while dancing. I don't know how that affected the folkish usage of the word, or for that matter the pop usage, but it does suggest that the word's slept around a bit.

Incidentally, while checking the spelling of 'balar' I ran across this very interesting blog about language, culture, children's songs, folklore and much more.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 11 Mar 08 - 05:32 AM

There's little evidence that what we think of as the (traditional) ballad ever had any particular connection with dancing apart from the name, which may be why nobody has mentioned it. That notion was popular back when the ballads were imagined to be ancient survivals of pre-literate culture, but modern scholarship (by which I mean no more than serious studies produced over the last century or so) has pretty much put paid to that idea.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 11 Mar 08 - 06:22 AM

Hi Barbara,
I've been watching this thread with interest, to see what came up before diving in myself. I'm really a singer of ballads, rather than an academic expert, and I know all too well the elephant traps and angry mobs awaiting those who try to offer definitions of anything.

I'd be interested to see the Funk and Wagnall definitions, Jim, although like you I'd have doubts about pasting six pages into a Mudcat thread. I don't have a copy of ESPB to hand, but to be going on with, here's a precis of M. J. C. Hodgart (others may know better than me how reliable his scholarship is, but thehis suggestions are recognizable to me at least):

"... anonymous, narrative poems, nearly always in short stanzas of two to four lines.... distinguished from other narrative poetry by a peculiar way of telling their stories.... they deal with one single situation and deal with it dramatically, beginning 'in the fifth act'.... a high proportion of dialogue to stage direction.... they are impersonal, with no moralising or didacticism.... they have their own peculiar rhetoric and phraseology."

He goes on to quote G. H. Gerould:

"A ballad is a folksong that tells a story with stress on the crucial situation, tells it by letting the action unfold itself in event and speech, and tells it objectively with little comment or intrusion of personal bias."

Although the idea of the ballad telling the story only from 'the fifth act' is a feature I recognize, I could argue over Hodgart's assertion that "the action is usually compressed into a few hours". It's not too hard to think of ballads in which days pass, pregnancies run their course, and babies grow to maturity. However it is broadly true that the crucial action is usually compressed into a short timespan.

From the practical point of view of someone hosting a ballad forum, it's interesting to see what participants actually arrive with. Many restrict themselves to the Child canon, of course, but you're also likely to hear later narrative songs which didn't make it into the ESPB - 'The Flying Cloud' was offered at the last ballad forum I gave, and although the action there is hardly compressed into a few hours, it would be hard to argue against its worthiness. Other people will take the view that any old traditional song must be a ballad, so you might get to hear the occasional lyric song (which Chicken Charlie above is quite right to distinguish from a ballad). Other punters will define the ballad as "a story song" in the broadest sense: 'Pretty Boy Floyd' arrived unexpectedly at one ballad session I hosted, and very welcome he was too.

Of modern efforts, the Chris Wood / Hugh Lupton 'Chip Shop' song is a very clever updating of ballad archetype, Jan Harmon's 'Song for a Seafarer' (which Janet Russell does) captures the old two-line refrain pattern rather well, and who could deny Richard Thompson's 'Vincent Black Lightning' its place in the modern ballad canon?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: GUEST,Valmai Goodyear
Date: 11 Mar 08 - 06:52 AM

On Sunday 1st. March next year Brian Peters will be leading an all-day ballad forum at the Lewes Arms Folk Club (plus a melodeon workshop on the Saturday and folk club performance on the Saturday evening)so this will be an excellent opportunity to study the subject in depth.

At these events, the leader sings a few ballads themselves, raises subjects for discussion and invites participants to contribute a ballad of their own which is nominated in advance so that we don't get duplication.

Marian Button is also doing a ballad forum for us on 6th. September this year.

The club website is http://www.lewesarmsfolkclub.org/

Tootle pip,

Valmai


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Wolfgang
Date: 13 Mar 08 - 05:25 PM

By default, Malcolm is usually right, but I read a quite different explanation in a recent German encyclopedia which I paraphrase and translate in short:

ballata (ital.), balada (prov.) = dance song

In the 14th and 15th century it meant in the romanic countries a story sung in verses to a known dance tune (F. Villon, for instance).
In the 18th century, the name "ballad" in England (pars pro toto used, as so often in German, for Britain) was assigned as a new name to already existing old story telling folksongs (collect. Ramsay, Percy).

In German, "Ballade" is a (short, compared to book length) story in verses, which may be a song but very often is not. In most cases, the Ballade has started its life as poetry and a tune has been added much later by someone else. Only in recent times (last century) some songwriters write Balladen conceived as songs from the very first moment.

If you look at the titles of a German collection of Balladen you'll notice some ballads of English origin (Barbara Allen) translated into German, some ballads which are now known only as songs though they started life as poetry (Lorelei) and some old poetry which only fairly recently (200 years after it has been written) has been married to a tune (Goethe's Erlkoenig). More than half of these Balladen are still only poetry.

The influence of the English ballads upon German Balladen is seen in translation of English ballads (Edward) and in ballads that have no English precursor but are written in English ballad style and have English themes (Archibald Douglas, John Maynard, ...)

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 06:55 AM

That isn't really contradictory to what I said. My point was that the (English-language) ballads aren't survivals of medieval dance-songs, but a later genre having nothing in particular to do with dance. The name, as is so often the case, is what can cause confusion. Of course, many of the productions of the early broadside press were set to dance tunes (or alternatively, their tunes were also used for dancing) but that is another matter, unrelated to the terminology.

That's an interesting point about translation. British ballads translated into various other European languages have turned up in those countries' vernacular traditions from time to time, and the reverse is certainly also true: 'The Outlandish Knight', for instance, pretty certainly derived directly from the French 'Tueur de femmes' (and other titles) as Holger Nygard pointed out in The Ballad of Heer Halewijn, but I have a suspicion that at least some of the Scottish versions, which he considered also to descend from the French ballad via England, have been imbued by some anonymous antiquarian(s) with characteristics of the story as it occurs in Scandinavia; if they did not actually start out as quite separate 'creative translations' via another route.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: GUEST,PMB
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 07:03 AM

Nobody said they were- what I was pointing out is that the word itself has been applied differently over time, and so we shouldn't be surprised about its current pop music connotation. It's a bit like treacle.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 10:04 AM

Like treacle in that the word used to denote something dark and deadly, but now means something light and sugary?

Valmai


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: GUEST,PMB
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 10:22 AM

No, it originally meant "a medicine for the bites of wild animals". Is there no treacle in Gilead?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 11:16 AM

Gilead? Thought they made razor blades?

Regards


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 11:20 AM

And for what it's worth - Malcolm delivers clear, well-wrought analysis, as ever.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 01:07 PM

Gilead?

You must be balmy!!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 06:51 PM

I like the late Miki Woodbridge's definition: "A ballad is a song that takes five minutes to sing, and ten minutes to listen to."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is a ballad?
From: Slag
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 07:02 PM

And when was it ever thought that dance did NOT tell a story?


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