ballad

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ballad (Lat. ballare, to dance) Form of popular poetry which is regularly sung, narrative in style with simple metre, rhyme, and often a refrain. The first surviving examples date from medieval times, and typically consist of four-line stanzas. The ballad was a vital means of perpetuating community myth, the traditions of storytelling, and the celebration of rites. Notable later examples include Lyrical Ballads (1798), written by William Wordsworth in collaboration with Samuel Coleridge. The late-18th century revival of the ballad was central to the rise of Romanticism. It was also used by Swinburne, Sir Walter Scott, and Rudyard Kipling.

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bal·lad / ˈbaləd/ • n. a poem or song narrating a story in short stanzas. Traditional ballads are typically of unknown authorship, having been passed on orally from one generation to the next as part of the folk culture. ∎  a slow sentimental or romantic song. ORIGIN: late 15th cent. (denoting a light, simple song): from Old French balade, from Provençal balada ‘dance, song to dance to,’ from balar ‘to dance,’ from late Latin ballare (see ball2 ). The sense ‘narrative poem’ dates from the mid 18th cent.

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ballad.
1. Properly a song to be danced to (It. ballare, to dance) but from the 16th cent. or earlier the term has been applied to anything singable, simple, popular in style, and for solo v.

2. The word ‘ballad’ was in the 19th cent. also attached to the simpler type of ‘drawing-room song’—sometimes called ‘Shop Ballad’, possibly to distinguish it from those hawked by the ballad-seller on broadsheets. Hence the Eng. ‘Ballad Concerts’ inaugurated by the mus. publisher, John Boosey, in 1867.

3. Self-contained narrative song, such as Loewe's Edward or Schubert's Erlkönig. Also applied to certain narrative operatic arias, e.g. Senta's ballad in Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer.

4. Term applied in jazz to sentimental song.

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ballad a poem or song narrating a story in short stanzas. Traditional ballads are typically of unknown authorship, having been passed on orally from one generation to the next as part of the folk culture. Recorded from the late 15th century (denoting a light, simple song), the word comes via Old French from Provençal balada ‘to dance’, from late Latin. The sense ‘narrative poem’ dates from the mid 18th century, and was used by Johnson in the Rambler.

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ballad XV. — (O)F. ballade — Pr. balada dancing-song; see BALL2, -ADE