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Ballad metre

Roberto 24 Aug 11 - 03:10 AM
Roberto 24 Aug 11 - 05:14 PM
michaelr 24 Aug 11 - 08:40 PM
Bill D 24 Aug 11 - 10:06 PM
Dave MacKenzie 25 Aug 11 - 04:35 AM
GUEST,doc.tom 25 Aug 11 - 05:14 AM
Roberto 25 Aug 11 - 05:36 AM
MartinRyan 25 Aug 11 - 05:54 AM
MGM·Lion 25 Aug 11 - 06:25 AM
Roberto 25 Aug 11 - 06:37 AM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Aug 11 - 10:01 AM
Wilfried Schaum 25 Aug 11 - 12:00 PM
Roberto 25 Aug 11 - 01:14 PM
Nigel Parsons 26 Aug 11 - 04:21 AM
Roberto 26 Aug 11 - 04:32 AM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Aug 11 - 02:38 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 27 Aug 11 - 01:19 PM
MGM·Lion 27 Aug 11 - 01:27 PM
EBarnacle 27 Aug 11 - 11:19 PM
MGM·Lion 27 Aug 11 - 11:44 PM
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Subject: Ballad metre
From: Roberto
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 03:10 AM

Vic Gammon writes in his introduction to The Folk Handbook - Working with songs from the English Tradition, that the ballad metre can be described as 8.6.8.6 (the number of usual syllables per line). He also describes the pattern 14.14.14.14. It seems to me that 8.7.8.7 is much widespread as well: would it be correct to tal about 8.6.8.6/8.7.8.7 as the two most used balladd metres (beside the 14.14.14.14 solution)? Thanks. R


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: Roberto
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 05:14 PM

No-one to help me with the so-called ballad metre? Last refresh.


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: michaelr
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 08:40 PM

Ballads should be measured by the yard, not the meter.


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 10:06 PM

Ummm... most people would not have that information at hand. The only way to generalize is to take, perhaps, Child, and do some tedious counting. I would suspect the ballad meter is similar to much classic poetry of other types.


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 04:35 AM

I suspect that a good indication of the frequency is the fact that 8.6.8.6 is usually known as Common Metre, with 8.8.8.8 as Long Metre and 6.6.6.6 as Short Metre.


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: GUEST,doc.tom
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 05:14 AM

Define ballad - those metre patterns are, obvously, common, but for a certain ballad form only - surely! Why do you need to know? (I use this form of analysis when searching for tunes to texts that have none, but that is all).


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: Roberto
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 05:36 AM

Why do I need to know? Because I'd like to have a satisfactory definition of what ballads are, under both aspects, text and tune.


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: MartinRyan
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 05:54 AM

Ballads should be measured by the yard, not the meter.

Nice one!

In this case, of course, given Roberto's quest for "a satisfactory definition", it's the length of a piece of string that matters, really...

Regards


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 06:25 AM

Re your last post, Roberto: stylistic characteristics, such as metre, might occasionally indicate a possible identification {"this might be a ballad because it goes 4 3 4 3 which quite a lot of ballads do, though by no means all"}; but can hardly be in any way *definitive* when shared with so many other forms ~~ many songs and verses which are not recognisably ballads by any *definition* will also have this metre.

It's a matter of converses being unreliable ~~~~

   ···All dogs are mammals ~
      but by no means all mammals are dogs···

So too many poems/songs with a 4 3 4 3 metre are ballads; but the converse is not the case; by no means all 4 3 4 3 verses are ballads.

So I fear your quest for a ===definition=== of balladry based on metre might turn out to be somewhat chimerical.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: Roberto
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 06:37 AM

MtheGM: "your quest for a ===definition=== of balladry based on metre". No quest for a definition based only on metre, but a quest to put together the basic notions about ballads: their the text (with its accents and metre) and the tune (the scales, the family of tunes etc). Not a mathematic definition, an open definition.


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 10:01 AM

Verse in English (and Scots) is based on stresses rather than syllables. Just count up syllables and it all goes wrong.


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 12:00 PM

short look into one of my german ballad books: mostly 4/4, but also some 3/4 and 6/8, which can also been understood as 2/2 in triplets.

McGofH: same with the german ballads.

ballads cna't be defined, in this man's humble opinion, by counting syllables, only by themes: love and death, and sometimes the intrusion of other worlds into our known one.


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: Roberto
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 01:14 PM

Wilfried: 4/4, 3/4 etc are indication of the time (music). The metre refers to poetry. In my opinion, you can't expect to give definitive definition, but you must find the words to describe what you are talking about. McGrath of Harlow suggests to pay attention to the stresses more than to the syllables. I think it is a good idea. A. L. Lloyd seems to do the same in Folk Song in England. But the so called ballad metre is not an extemporary invention, and I would like to deal with it as well in an appropriate manner, not to follow a dogma, but in order to achieve an open definition that considers all aspects. The other big question being the tunes of the ballads, and of traditional music in general, and the modal scales, and the family of tunes, etc. The many ideas that all the people who posted in this thread presented are very useful to me and intersting. R


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 04:21 AM

What do you consider a ballad?
What did the author consider a ballad?

W.S.Gilbert (well known ½ of Gilbert & Sullivan) had a series of works he entitled his 'Bab Ballads'. A quick perusal shows very little commonality of metre for these.

Maybe the original question is looking for something which does not exist.


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: Roberto
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 04:32 AM

Nigel. To be cautious: yes. To say that nothing can be said, nothing exists: no. Which ballads? The ballads in Child's The English and Scottish Popular Ballads.


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 02:38 PM

The metre doesn't define the genre, though it's true enough that a large proportion of ballads in any country will tend to use a limited variety of metres.

If you told a ballad type story, in the manner of a ballad, in any kind of metre, it'd still be a ballad.


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 27 Aug 11 - 01:19 PM

There is one aspect of this we can define, and that's the structure of the poetic form called a ballad. Like a limerick or a sonnet, this does have rules, and these feed through to many musical ballads too.

A ballad poem, in its standard form, is constructed from quatrains of alternate cross-rhymed tetrameter and trimeter. In other words, it's generally a four-line verse, usually alternating between four and three beats to a line, with those beats falling on the even-numbered syllables of each line.

That's the ballad in its most archtypal form, and if you want to call it an eight-syllable/six-syllable structure, then good luck to you. As someone here's already said, though, it's more useful to count the beats in each line rather than the syllables.

Variations to that structure, such as the six-line verses Oscar Wilde uses in The Ballad of Reading Gaol, are acceptable, but if you step too far from the ballad's basic rules - at least in poetic terms - then what you've written won't, strictly speaking, be a ballad at all.

In its popular usage, of course, "ballad" just means anything that can vaguely be described as a story song or (sometimes) any song that's not an outright rocker. At that point, though, all useful definitions break down and the word just means whatever the speaker wants it to mean.


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Aug 11 - 01:27 PM

It's the manner & techniques of the story-telling [narrative, incremental repetition, much use of dialogue in advancing the story, &c] which define the ballad as a genre, at least as much as the metre or the verse-pattern. Many other songs & poems share the metre adduced by Paul above [Onward Xtn Soldiers; Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus; Jack & Jill; Old Mother Hubbard ...] without being, in anyone's concept, ballads. And a fair number of the ballads in Child/Bronson will probably be found to vary from this verse-pattern considerably.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: EBarnacle
Date: 27 Aug 11 - 11:19 PM

I believe that what most ballads have in common that they tell a story, although most do, but that, even when there is a chorus, the audience is not expected to sing along. There are definite exceptions, such as Golden Vanity, BUT they are the exception, rather than the rule. In general, the ballad tends to show off the leader's ability to present a, generally, moving tale.


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Subject: RE: Ballad metre
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Aug 11 - 11:44 PM

The Golden Vanity is also an exception in that it varies, if only slightly, from the usual metre identified above ~~ every line has 4 stresses, rather than the 'common' 4 3 4 3 pattern.

~M~


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