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THE GENERAL CHARACTER OF EUROPEAN FOLK MUSIC 37
about practically any subject. But the structure of the stanza is repeated. We don't know, of course, whether such a strophic structure in the poetry came first, or whether it was invented to fit a song; this may be a case of the "chicken-and-egg" dilemma. But logically, it is a simple transition from a repeated poetic structure to a repeated melody, with the words and their content changing from stanza to stanza.
For example, the following stanza of the famous English ballad, "Barbara Allen," shows us some of the traits of the poetic unit typical in European folklore:
Oh yes Vm sick, I'm very sick And death is in me dwelling; No betterx no better I ever shall be If I can't have Barbery Allen.
Even if we saw the poem without music and without the printer's divisions into stanzas, we could easily figure out that it is arranged into stanzas, because: 1) lines 2 and 4 rime (also lines 6 and 8, lines 10 and 12, etc.), and 2) every fourth line ends with the words "Barb'ry Allen." In other songs, and in other languages, there are different characteristics of the stanza, different ways of identifying the stanza as a unit. But the same kind of musical structure, strophic, with its repetition of a few musical lines, is found throughout Europe (but not in all songs) and is simply an accompaniment and an analogue of the poetic structure.
The close relationship between the words and music of a song is carried even further in European folk song. The lines of music and text usually coincide, and the points at which the music comes to a temporary rest are also those at which a sentence, phrase, or thought in the words is completed. There is, moreover, a close relationship between the smaller segments of musical and linguistic structure, for example, between stress and accent, and between the length of tone and of syllable. The nature of this relationship varies from nation to nation because of the differences in structure among the various languages.
Characteristics of European scales
We have already mentioned the basic strophic structures as a reason for our belief that European folk music is essentially a styl-