Mudcat Café message #3991842 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #166098   Message #3991842
Posted By: Steve Gardham
11-May-19 - 03:00 PM
Thread Name: If you don't like ballads......
Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
Of several definitions of 'ballad' all equally valid, in terms of literature/folk song it does indeed simply mean a song or poetic piece with a discernable narrative. Like anything else this doesn't have finite boundaries. The term 'Child Ballad' sometimes rendered by the Scots as 'big ballad' or 'muckle sang' simply relates to that amorphous collection assembled by Professor Child. Whilst no-one would disagree that he assembled the majority of pieces of literature that would fit certain loosely held criteria, he never qualified what the boundaries were precisely, or fully explained the criteria he used, and indeed his reasons for inclusion seem to have changed as he assembled the anthology, having allowed himself to be influenced by others. However, this collection/anthology has not so far been surpassed, nor has his tremendous knowledge of their histories, and analogues in other cultures. Bertrand H Bronson used Child's selection to supply a study of all the extant tunes to the ballads in 1959 in his 'The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads'.

In summary, in our context therefore, the word 'ballad' describes most of what was printed on broadsides and collected in the folk canon.