A simple definition of the word "is a song that tells a story and originally was a musical accompaniment to a dance" (Cuddon 71). It comes from "the late Latin and Italian ballare 'to dance' (Cuddon 71).The word ballad is known to have three different meaning and three main types depending on what origin it is from. The three main types of ballad are: Traditional Ballad, Literary ballad, and the last one is called Sheet Ballard or broadside ballads. Traditional ballads were more common in the rural environments and they were song by mouth. Since the traditional ballads were sung by mouth they could be passed down. Literary ballads were made by poets. Holman states that "it is true that the folk ballad is, in almost every country, one of the earliest forms of literature (42). Some characteristics of a ballad are: a ballad has simple language, it has tragic theme, intensity when the narrators is telling the story, incremental repetition, the super natural will play a role through the ballad, the ballad is told through a dialogue, usually at the end of a ballad there is a summary stanza.
The ballads were so popular that in 1728, London had its first ballad opera. It was called The Beggar's Opera. "A ballad opera was a kind of musical show that combined speaking, dancing, and singing" (Lloyd 41).
An example of a literary ballad is Mother, Get Up, Unbar the Door by Charles Causley (Cuddon 71)
An example of a traditional ballad is The Twa Corbles by Charles Causley and the last one was (Cuddon 72)
"The greatest impetus to the study of ballad literature was given by the publication in 1765 of Bishop Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry" (Holman 43).
Holman, Hugh C. A Handbook To Literature. New York: The Odyssey Press, 1936.
Cudden, J. A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. Fourth Edition. Great Britain, Penguin Group, 1977.
Fowler, Roger. A Dictionary of Modern Critical Terms. London and New York: Routledge, 1987.
Lloyd, Norman. The Golden Encyclopedia of Music. New York: Western Publishing Company, 1968.