Ballad Folk Ballads Ballads also

known as folk ballads, or popular ballads, were composed to be sung. Unlike the similar carol, however, ballads were based on legends or traditions from the local area and were commonly passed down orally between generations. Thus, the medieval and Elizabethan ballads extant today are only one version of many that once existed. Ballads typically depict dramatic situations, are told either by an omniscient narrator or through dialogue, and often begin the tale in media res.

The ballad has no set form, but typically falls into four-line stanzas rhyming abcb. There are more than 300 extant English and Scottish ballads, which fall into five general categories: romantic ("Barbara Allen"), nautical ("Henry Martin"), historic ("The Bonny Earl of Murray"), heroic (the Robin Hood ballads), and supernatural ("The Wife of Usher's Well"). The first, and still most comprehensive, collection of ballads was compiled by Francis James Child in the 19 th century (English and Scottish Popular Ballads).

See also ballad stanza, border ballads, Middle English LYRICS AND BALLADS.

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