Mudcat Café message #3992144 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #166098   Message #3992144
Posted By: Steve Gardham
13-May-19 - 02:49 PM
Thread Name: If you don't like ballads......
Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
As is obvious from the last dozen or so postings there are many types of ballads and to make things a little clearer the use of a qualifying adjective would help, folk ballad, broadside ballad, traditional ballad, literary ballad, Child Ballad, big ballad, etc.

Though we get several writers claiming that a ballad is not a ballad unless it is sung, this is actually wrong. A good percentage of ballad performers recited their ballads, and this was very likely more prevalent in earlier centuries. Bell Robertson, Greig's most prolific source for ballads couldn't sing a note and recited all her ballads.


Big Al was actually referring to the big ballads (Child Ballads) in his original post and he was comparing them with folk/broadside ballads and songs.

Beowulf can't be a ballad for a number of reasons. Firstly it was written long before any ballads were in existence, and secondly although it has narrative it has none of the other attributes of a ballad. There are plenty of threads that list the characteristics of the majority of Child Ballads, which themselves can be split up into a number of categories. As I wrote earlier Child felt obliged to include items in his canon that only had a few of the characteristics mainly because his most pressing remit was to be inclusive rather than exclusive, although personally I'd rather he'd gone for the latter.