A Century Of Ballads 1810-1910, Their Composers & Singers

With Some Introductory Chapters On Old Ballads And Ballad Makers - online book.

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4                A CENTURY OF BALLADS
a song should be short and terse, and each verse exactly alike in rhythm."
This explanation does not help us much. But it bears witness to one fact, namely, that origin­ally a ballad was not a love song at all, or very seldom. This distinction, which indeed hardly exists to-day, it would be impossible to retain for the purposes of this book, and in dealing with the ballads of the last century or so I shall treat the word as signifying any song of whatever nature or sentiment that is of a popular type.
But in taking a bird's-eye view of the history and gradual evolution of English songs and ballads it will be necessary to refer to the older and distinctive meanings of the word ballad, which had in earlier days a certain significance. The connection of ballads and dance tunes, as signified by the derivation of ballad from the Italian ballata, a dance, which is again derived from ballare, to dance, has been mentioned by the writer quoted above, and must be taken into consideration as being one of the many uses to which the word " ballad" has been put at various stages of its history. Morley in his Plaine and easie introdzictio?t to Practicall Mtisicke, published in 1597, says: "There is another kind—more light than this [the Vilanelle] which they tearm Ballete or daunces, and are songs
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III