Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

Ballads

on 13 October 2010

It’s finals week! Yay because that means Fall Break is literally right around the corner, and Boo because that means I’m knocking myself out with studying this week. This is the first quarter EVER that I’ve not had a major paper due. It feels weird. It’s also the first time I’ve had a 100 question closed book final. Yikes!

Because I’ve been slammed, I haven’t had much time for blogging. So, I’m just going to steal a post from my teaching blog since it was pretty interesting (if I do say so myself). We were studying ballads; specifically the criterion for a traditional ballad.

Ballads were the poetry of the common people. “Serious” poetry was composed in French or Italian. Ballads were the way for the commoners to record their stories, history, thoughts, and ideas. Since they were not able to write down their stories, it only made sense to put those words to music so they wouldn’t be forgotten. The best ballads are of Scottish and/or Irish descent, and they mimic the highbrow poetry of the time.

In the 1970s, ballads and ballad form returned to music with the help of such groups as Simon and Garfunkel. For example, here is a classic example of a Scottish ballad that is still commonly played today:
So, that is what a classic ballad would have sounded like…what about today? “Hey Jude” is an awesome example of a modern ballad. While you listen, think about our six criterion for evaluating ballads:
1. Impersonal (Who is talking? Is Jude the speaker?)
2. Concentrated (Does it limit itself to one storyline?)
3. Dramatic (Is there conflict implied?)
4. Ironic (Is there a twist in the song?)
5. Incantory (Do the lyrics repeat?)
6. Simple (Is the verse structure uncomplicated?)

Can you think of any other modern ballads that fit the old-fashioned criterion? Leave them in the comments!

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