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The Development of Ballads.

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The Development of Ballads Ballads have been in evidence since the seventh century and have been popular ever since. They travelled around the globe as people emigrated, picking up stories of historical significance on the way. Their main purpose is to entertain, being sung or recited, often accompanied by music. Their distinctive poetic form told appealing tales of heroism, hardship and adventure often in dramatic terms. They were also a means of spreading news, to a largely illiterate population in an easily understood narrative way. Ballads follow a distinctive recipe, elements of which can be seen in all ballads. They use quatrains, which are four line stanzas. An example of this can be seen in the ballad, 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner': "The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew, The furrow follow'd free We were the first that ever burst Into that silent sea" In this verse you can see a regular 'A B C B' rhyming scheme, which means that lines two and four rhyme with a bouncy rhythm. Ballads told simple stories to entertain audiences such as in 'The Twa Corbies' where two ravens having a conversation. The ballads would build up to a climax where the main event of the story would happen. ...read more.


In either the audience may have been invited to supply lines making the ballads more of a lively improvised story. This would have been great fun moving the action from performer to the audience and back again. The characters depicted were bold but shallow leaving the audience with a two dimensional representation which told of what the characters did but not of how they felt. There was little attempt to flesh out any subtleties of characterisation. Action and events moved the story line not any depth in the characters. In the beginning of the border ballad 'Johnie Armstrong' he is described as being a "bold outlaw". We are told that he came from Westmerland, on the Scottish border. He came from poverty, "had neither land or rent coming in" and alot about what he possessed in terms of men, horses and weapon, but not much about him as a man. The ballad of 'Johnie Armstrong' is a good example of a border ballad. A border ballad focused on the conflict between the Scottish and the English. The ballad is clearly written from an English viewpoint, describing Johnie as proud, brave and heroic. The words "faire Westmerland" are the first indication that this is written from an English perspective. The band own white horses (white symbolising good) ...read more.


Ballads can be found all over the word: 'Sir Patrick Spens' is a traditional Scottish ballad; 'Young Hunting' is an eighteenth centaury ballad, perhaps with earlier Danish parallels and 'Ballad of Sixty-Five' is a traditional Jamaican ballad. This proves that ballads have travelled all over the globe, appealing to worldwide audiences for many centauries. The Ballad of Sixty-Five tells a story of historical significance to many Jamaicans; a group of slaves in Jamaica march to their governor's house demanding there right and are eventually hanged to make a public spectacle. It had the opposite reaction making other slaves believe that they could stand up for themselves: "Paul Boyle died but his spirit talked, Anywhere in Jamaica that freedom walks." The poem has examples of patois, which is native Jamaican dialect. "You can wuk like a mule but de crop still bad" It also has an 'A A B B' rhyming scheme to it and a Calypso rhythum, which shows how the basic ballad recipe can be varied as it travelled. Ballads are an ancient form of communication; they have been around for centauries keeping almost the same recipe throughout. They told tales of historical importance as well as stories just to entertain. They have been popular ever since they begun and although they are not still in there original form we can see element derived from ballads in modern day song. ...read more.

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