Ballad

A ballad /ˈbæləd/ is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads derive from the medieval French chanson balladée or ballade, which were originally "danced songs". Ballads were particularly characteristic of the popular poetry and song of the British Isles from the later medieval period until the 19th century. They were widely used across Europe, and later in Australia, North Africa, North America and South America. Ballads are often 13 lines with an ABABBCBC form, consisting of couplets (two lines) of rhymed verse, each of 14 syllables. Another common form is ABAB or ABCB repeated, in alternating 8 and 6 syllable lines.

Many ballads were written and sold as single sheet broadsides. The form was often used by poets and composers from the 18th century onwards to produce lyrical ballads. In the later 19th century, the term took on the meaning of a slow form of popular love song and is often used for any love song, particularly the sentimental ballad of pop or rock, although the term is also associated with the concept of a stylized storytelling song or poem, particularly when used as a title for other media such as a film.

The-Twa-Corbies
Illustration by Arthur Rackham of the Scots ballad "The Twa Corbies"

Origins

Here begynneth a gest of Robyn Hode
A sixteenth-century printed ballad, the A Gest of Robyn Hode

The ballad derives its name from medieval French dance songs or "ballares" (L: ballare, to dance),[1] from which 'ballet' is also derived, as did the alternative rival form that became the French ballade.[2][3] As a narrative song, their theme and function may originate from Scandinavian and Germanic traditions of storytelling that can be seen in poems such as Beowulf.[4] Musically they were influenced by the Minnelieder of the Minnesang tradition.[5] The earliest example of a recognizable ballad in form in England is "Judas" in a 13th-century manuscript.[6]

Ballad form

Ballads were originally written to accompany dances, and so were composed in couplets with refrains in alternate lines. These refrains would have been sung by the dancers in time with the dance.[7] Most northern and west European ballads are written in ballad stanzas or quatrains (four-line stanzas) of alternating lines of iambic (an unstressed followed by a stressed syllable) tetrameter (eight syllables) and iambic trimeter (six syllables), known as ballad meter. Usually, only the second and fourth line of a quatrain are rhymed (in the scheme a, b, c, b), which has been taken to suggest that, originally, ballads consisted of couplets (two lines) of rhymed verse, each of 14 syllables.[8] This can be seen in this stanza from "Lord Thomas and Fair Annet":

The horse | fair Ann | et rode | upon |
He amb | led like | the wind |,
With sil | ver he | was shod | before,
With burn | ing gold | behind |.[4]

There is considerable variation on this pattern in almost every respect, including length, number of lines and rhyming scheme, making the strict definition of a ballad extremely difficult. In southern and eastern Europe, and in countries that derive their tradition from them, ballad structure differs significantly, like Spanish romanceros, which are octosyllabic and use consonance rather than rhyme.[9]

Ballads usually are heavily influenced by the regions in which they originate and use the common dialect of the people. Scotland's ballads in particular, both in theme and language, are strongly characterised by their distinctive tradition, even exhibiting some pre-Christian influences in the inclusion of supernatural elements such as travel to the Fairy Kingdom in the Scots ballad "Tam Lin".[10] The ballads do not have any known author or correct version; instead, having been passed down mainly by oral tradition since the Middle Ages, there are many variations of each. The ballads remained an oral tradition until the increased interest in folk songs in the 18th century led collectors such as Bishop Thomas Percy (1729–1811) to publish volumes of popular ballads.[7]

In all traditions most ballads are narrative in nature, with a self-contained story, often concise, and rely on imagery, rather than description, which can be tragic, historical, romantic or comic.[8] Themes concerning rural laborers and their sexuality are common, and there are many ballads based on the Robin Hood legend.[11] Another common feature of ballads is repetition, sometimes of fourth lines in succeeding stanzas, as a refrain, sometimes of third and fourth lines of a stanza and sometimes of entire stanzas.[4]

Composition

Scholars of ballads have been divided into "communalists", such as Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803) and the Brothers Grimm, who argue that ballads are originally communal compositions, and "individualists" such as Cecil Sharp, who assert that there was one single original author.[6] Communalists tend to see more recent, particularly printed, broadside ballads of known authorship as a debased form of the genre, while individualists see variants as corruptions of an original text.[12] More recently scholars have pointed to the interchange of oral and written forms of the ballad.[13]

Transmission

The transmission of ballads comprises a key stage in their re-composition. In romantic terms this process is often dramatized as a narrative of degeneration away from the pure 'folk memory' or 'immemorial tradition'.[14] In the introduction to Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (1802) the romantic poet and historical novelist Walter Scott argued a need to 'remove obvious corruptions' in order to attempt to restore a supposed original. For Scott, the process of multiple recitations 'incurs the risk of impertinent interpolations from the conceit of one rehearser, unintelligible blunders from the stupidity of another, and omissions equally to be regretted, from the want of memory of a third.' Similarly, John Robert Moore noted 'a natural tendency to oblivescence'.[15] According to Scott, transcribed ballads often have a 'flatness and insipidity' compared to their oral counterparts.

Classification

Illustration to the ballad Young Beckie from "Some British Ballads"
Illustration by Arthur Rackham to Young Bekie.

European Ballads have been generally classified into three major groups: traditional, broadside and literary. In America a distinction is drawn between ballads that are versions of European, particularly British and Irish songs, and 'Native American ballads', developed without reference to earlier songs. A further development was the evolution of the blues ballad, which mixed the genre with Afro-American music. For the late 19th century the music publishing industry found a market for what are often termed sentimental ballads, and these are the origin of the modern use of the term 'ballad' to mean a slow love song.

Traditional ballads

The traditional, classical or popular (meaning of the people) ballad has been seen as beginning with the wandering minstrels of late medieval Europe.[4] From the end of the 15th century there are printed ballads that suggest a rich tradition of popular music. A reference in William Langland's Piers Plowman indicates that ballads about Robin Hood were being sung from at least the late 14th century and the oldest detailed material is Wynkyn de Worde's collection of Robin Hood ballads printed about 1495.[16]

Early collections of English ballads were made by Samuel Pepys (1633–1703) and in the Roxburghe Ballads collected by Robert Harley, (1661–1724), which paralleled the work in Scotland by Walter Scott and Robert Burns.[16] Inspired by his reading as a teenager of Reliques of Ancient English Poetry by Thomas Percy, Scott began collecting ballads while he attended Edinburgh University in the 1790s. He published his research from 1802 to 1803 in a three-volume work, Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. Burns collaborated with James Johnson on the multi-volume Scots Musical Museum, a miscellany of folk songs and poetry with original work by Burns. Around the same time, he worked with George Thompson on A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs for the Voice.[17]

Both Northern English and Southern Scots shared in the identified tradition of Border ballads, particularly evinced by the cross-border narrative in versions of "The Ballad of Chevy Chase" sometimes associated with the Lancashire-born sixteenth-century minstrel Richard Sheale.[18]

It has been suggested that the increasing interest in traditional popular ballads during the eighteenth century was prompted by social issues such as the enclosure movement as many of the ballads deal with themes concerning rural laborers.[19] James Davey has suggested that the common themes of sailing and naval battles may also have prompted the use (at least in England) of popular ballads as naval recruitment tools.[20]

Key work on the traditional ballad was undertaken in the late 19th century in Denmark by Svend Grundtvig and for England and Scotland by the Harvard professor Francis James Child.[6] They attempted to record and classify all the known ballads and variants in their chosen regions. Since Child died before writing a commentary on his work it is uncertain exactly how and why he differentiated the 305 ballads printed that would be published as The English and Scottish Popular Ballads.[21] There have been many different and contradictory attempts to classify traditional ballads by theme, but commonly identified types are the religious, supernatural, tragic, love ballads, historic, legendary and humorous.[4] The traditional form and content of the ballad were modified to form the basis for twenty-three bawdy pornographic ballads that appeared in the underground Victorian magazine The Pearl, which ran for eighteen issues between 1879 and 1880. Unlike the traditional ballad, these obscene ballads aggressively mocked sentimental nostalgia and local lore.[22]

Broadsides

Tragical Ballad 18th century
An 18th-century broadside ballad: The tragical ballad: or, the lady who fell in love with her serving-man.

Broadside ballads (also known as 'broadsheet', 'stall', 'vulgar' or 'come all ye' ballads) were a product of the development of cheap print in the 16th century. They were generally printed on one side of a medium to large sheet of poor quality paper. In the first half of the 17th century, they were printed in black-letter or gothic type and included multiple, eye-catching illustrations, a popular tune title, as well as an alluring poem.[23] By the 18th century, they were printed in white letter or roman type and often without much decoration (as well as tune title). These later sheets could include many individual songs, which would be cut apart and sold individually as "slip songs." Alternatively, they might be folded to make small cheap books or "chapbooks" which often drew on ballad stories.[24] They were produced in huge numbers, with over 400,000 being sold in England annually by the 1660s.[25] Tessa Watt estimates the number of copies sold may have been in the millions.[26] Many were sold by travelling chapmen in city streets or at fairs.[27] The subject matter varied from what has been defined as the traditional ballad, although many traditional ballads were printed as broadsides. Among the topics were love, marriage, religion, drinking-songs, legends, and early journalism, which included disasters, political events and signs, wonders and prodigies.[28]

Literary ballads

Literary or lyrical ballads grew out of an increasing interest in the ballad form among social elites and intellectuals, particularly in the Romantic movement from the later 18th century. Respected literary figures Robert Burns and Walter Scott in Scotland collected and wrote their own ballads. Similarly in England William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge produced a collection of Lyrical Ballads in 1798 that included Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Keats were attracted to the simple and natural style of these folk ballads and tried to imitate it.[29] At the same time in Germany Goethe cooperated with Schiller on a series of ballads, some of which were later set to music by Schubert.[30] Later important examples of the poetic form included Rudyard Kipling's "Barrack-Room Ballads" (1892-6) and Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1897).[31] Victorian poet Christina Rossetti used ballad forms to explore spiritual and moral issues and to discuss the stereotypical treatment and representation of men and women's roles in society.

Ballad operas

William Hogarth 016
Painting based on The Beggar's Opera, Act III Scene 2, William Hogarth, c. 1728

In the 18th century ballad operas developed as a form of English stage entertainment, partly in opposition to the Italian domination of the London operatic scene.[32] It consisted of racy and often satirical spoken (English) dialogue, interspersed with songs that are deliberately kept very short to minimize disruptions to the flow of the story. Rather than the more aristocratic themes and music of the Italian opera, the ballad operas were set to the music of popular folk songs and dealt with lower-class characters.[33] Subject matter involved the lower, often criminal, orders, and typically showed a suspension (or inversion) of the high moral values of the Italian opera of the period. The first, most important and successful was The Beggar's Opera of 1728, with a libretto by John Gay and music arranged by John Christopher Pepusch, both of whom probably influenced by Parisian vaudeville and the burlesques and musical plays of Thomas d'Urfey (1653–1723), a number of whose collected ballads they used in their work.[34] Gay produced further works in this style, including a sequel under the title Polly. Henry Fielding, Colley Cibber, Arne, Dibdin, Arnold, Shield, Jackson of Exeter, Hook and many others produced ballad operas that enjoyed great popularity.[35] Ballad opera was attempted in America and Prussia. Later it moved into a more pastoral form, like Isaac Bickerstaffe's Love in a Village (1763) and Shield's Rosina (1781), using more original music that imitated, rather than reproduced, existing ballads. Although the form declined in popularity towards the end of the 18th century its influence can be seen in light operas like that of Gilbert and Sullivan's early works like The Sorcerer as well as in the modern musical.[36] In the 20th century, one of the most influential plays, Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's (1928) The Threepenny Opera was a reworking of The Beggar's Opera, setting a similar story with the same characters, and containing much of the same satirical bite, but only using one tune from the original.[37] The term ballad opera has also been used to describe musicals using folk music, such as The Martins and the Coys in 1944, and Peter Bellamy's The Transports in 1977.[38] The satiric elements of ballad opera can be seen in some modern musicals such as Chicago and Cabaret.[39]

Beyond Europe

Native American ballads

John Henry-27527
Statue of John Henry outside the town of Talcott in Summers County, West Virginia

Native American ballads are ballads that are native to North America (not to be confused with ballads performed by Native Americans).[40] Some 300 ballads sung in North America have been identified as having origins in British traditional or broadside ballads.[40] Examples include 'The Streets of Laredo', which was found in Britain and Ireland as 'The Unfortunate Rake'; however, a further 400 have been identified as originating in North America, including among the best known, 'The Ballad of Davy Crockett' and 'Jesse James'.[40] They became an increasing area of interest for scholars in the 19th century and most were recorded or catalogued by George Malcolm Laws, although some have since been found to have British origins and additional songs have since been collected.[40] They are usually considered closest in form to British broadside ballads and in terms of style are largely indistinguishable, however, they demonstrate a particular concern with occupations, journalistic style and often lack the ribaldry of British broadside ballads.[13]

Blues ballads

The blues ballad has been seen as a fusion of Anglo-American and Afro-American styles of music from the 19th century. Blues ballads tend to deal with active protagonists, often anti-heroes, resisting adversity and authority, but frequently lacking a strong narrative and emphasising character instead.[40] They were often accompanied by banjo and guitar which followed the blues musical format.[13] The most famous blues ballads include those about John Henry and Casey Jones.[40]

Bush ballads

The Old Bush Songs by Banio Paterson
Cover to Banjo Paterson's seminal 1905 collection of bush ballads, entitled The Old Bush Songs

The ballad was taken to Australia by early settlers from Britain and Ireland and gained particular foothold in the rural outback. The rhyming songs, poems and tales written in the form of ballads often relate to the itinerant and rebellious spirit of Australia in The Bush, and the authors and performers are often referred to as bush bards.[41] The 19th century was the golden age of bush ballads. Several collectors have catalogued the songs including John Meredith whose recording in the 1950s became the basis of the collection in the National Library of Australia.[41] The songs tell personal stories of life in the wide open country of Australia. Typical subjects include mining, raising and droving cattle, sheep shearing, wanderings, war stories, the 1891 Australian shearers' strike, class conflicts between the landless working class and the squatters (landowners), and outlaws such as Ned Kelly, as well as love interests and more modern fare such as trucking.[42] The most famous bush ballad is "Waltzing Matilda", which has been called "the unofficial national anthem of Australia".[43]

Sentimental ballads

Sentimental ballads, sometimes called "tear-jerkers" or "drawing-room ballads" owing to their popularity with the middle classes, had their origins in the early "Tin Pan Alley" music industry of the later 19th century. They were generally sentimental, narrative, strophic songs published separately or as part of an opera (descendants perhaps of broadside ballads, but with printed music, and usually newly composed). Such songs include "Little Rosewood Casket" (1870), "After the Ball" (1892) and "Danny Boy".[40] The association with sentimentality led to the term "ballad" being used for slow love songs from the 1950s onwards. Modern variations include "jazz ballads", "pop ballads", ""rock ballads", "R&B ballads" and "power ballads".[44]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ W. Apel, Harvard Dictionary of Music (Harvard, 1944; 2nd edn., 1972), p. 70.
  2. ^ A. Jacobs, A Short History of Western Music (1972, Penguin, 1976), p. 21.
  3. ^ W. Apel, Harvard Dictionary of Music (1944, Harvard, 1972), pp. 70-72.
  4. ^ a b c d e J. E. Housman, British Popular Ballads (1952, London: Ayer Publishing, 1969), p. 15.
  5. ^ A. Jacobs, A Short History of Western Music (Penguin 1972, 1976), p. 20.
  6. ^ a b c A. N. Bold, The Ballad (Routledge, 1979), p. 5.
  7. ^ a b "Popular Ballads", The Broadview Anthology of British Literature: The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century, p. 610.
  8. ^ a b D. Head and I. Ousby, The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English (Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 66.
  9. ^ T. A. Green, Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art (ABC-CLIO, 1997), p. 81.
  10. ^ "Popular Ballads" The Broadview Anthology of British Literature: The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century, pp. 610-17.
  11. ^ "Songs of Protest, Songs of Love: Popular Ballads in Eighteenth-Century Britain | Reviews in History". www.history.ac.uk. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  12. ^ M. Hawkins-Dady, Reader's Guide to Literature in English (Taylor & Francis, 1996), p. 54.
  13. ^ a b c T. A. Green, Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art (ABC-CLIO, 1997), p. 353.
  14. ^ Ruth Finnegan, Oral Poetry: Its Nature, Significance and Social Context (Cambridge University Press, 1977), p. 140.
  15. ^ "The Influence of transmission on the English Ballads", Modern Language Review 11 (1916), p. 387.
  16. ^ a b B. Sweers, Electric Folk: The Changing Face of English Traditional Music (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 45.
  17. ^ Gregory, E. David (April 13, 2006). Victorian Songhunters: The Recovery and Editing of English Vernacular Ballads and Folk Lyrics, 1820-1883. Scarecrow Press. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-1-4616-7417-7. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  18. ^ D. Gregory, '"The Songs of the People for Me": The Victorian Rediscovery of Lancashire Vernacular Song', Canadian Folk Music/Musique folklorique canadienne, 40 (2006), pp. 12-21.
  19. ^ Robin Ganev,Songs of Protest, Songs of Love: Popular Ballads in 18th Century Britain
  20. ^ [1]
  21. ^ T. A. Green, Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art (ABC-CLIO, 1997), p. 352.
  22. ^ Thomas J. Joudrey, "Against Communal Nostalgia: Reconstructing Sociality in the Pornographic Ballad," Victorian Poetry 54.4 (2017).
  23. ^ E. Nebeker, "The Heyday of the Broadside Ballad", English Broadside Ballad Archive, University of California-Santa Barbara, retrieved 15 August 2011.
  24. ^ G. Newman and L. E. Brown, Britain in the Hanoverian Age, 1714–1837: An Encyclopedia (Taylor & Francis, 1997), pp. 39-40.
  25. ^ B. Capp, 'Popular literature', in B. Reay, ed., Popular Culture in Seventeenth-Century England (Routledge, 1985), p. 199.
  26. ^ T. Watt, Cheap Print and Popular Piety, 1550-1640 (Cambridge University Press, 1991), p. 11.
  27. ^ M. Spufford, Small Books and Pleasant Histories: Popular Fiction and Its Readership in Seventeenth-Century England (Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 111-28.
  28. ^ B. Capp, 'Popular literature', in B. Reay, ed., Popular Culture in Seventeenth-Century England (Routledge, 1985), p. 204.
  29. ^ "Popular Ballads", The Broadview Anthology of British Literature, p. 610.
  30. ^ J. R. Williams, The Life of Goethe (Blackwell Publishing, 2001), pp. 106-8.
  31. ^ S. Ledger, S. McCracken, Cultural Politics at the Fin de Siècle (Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 152.
  32. ^ M. Lubbock, The Complete Book of Light Opera (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1962) pp. 467-68.
  33. ^ "Ballad opera", Encyclopædia Britannica, retrieved 7 April 2015.
  34. ^ F. Kidson, The Beggar's Opera: Its Predecessors and Successors (Cambridge University Press, 1969), p. 71.
  35. ^ M. Lubbock, The Complete Book of Light Opera (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1962), pp. 467-68.
  36. ^ G. Wren, A Most Ingenious Paradox: The Art of Gilbert and Sullivan (Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 41.
  37. ^ K. Lawrence, Decolonizing Tradition: New Views of Twentieth-century "British" Literary Canons (University of Illinois Press, 1992), p. 30.
  38. ^ A. J. Aby and P. Gruchow, The North Star State: A Minnesota History Reader, (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2002), p. 461.
  39. ^ L. Lehrman, Marc Blitzstein: A Bio-bibliography (Greenwood, 2005), p. 568.
  40. ^ a b c d e f g N. Cohen, Folk Music: a Regional Exploration (Greenwood, 2005), pp. 14-29.
  41. ^ a b Kerry O'Brien December 10, 2003 7:30 Report, abc.net.au
  42. ^ G. Smith, Singing Australian: A History of Folk and Country Music (Pluto Press Australia, 2005), p. 2.
  43. ^ Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me?", The National Library of Australia, retrieved 14 March 2008.
  44. ^ N. Cohen, Folk Music: a Regional Exploration (Greenwood, 2005), p. 297.

References and further reading

  • Dugaw, Dianne. Deep Play: John Gay and the Invention of Modernity. Newark, Del.: University of Delaware Press, 2001. Print.
  • Middleton, Richard. "Popular Music (I)". In Deane L. Root. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 6 April 2007. (subscription required)
  • Randel, Don (1986). The New Harvard Dictionary of Music. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-61525-5.
  • Temperley, Nicholas. "Ballad (II, 2)". In Deane L. Root. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 6 April 2007. (subscription required)
  • Winton, Calhoun. John Gay and the London Theatre. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1993. Print.
  • Witmer, Robert. "Ballad (jazz)". In Deane L. Root. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 6 April 2007. (subscription required)
  • Marcello Sorce Keller, "Sul castel di mirabel: Life of a Ballad in Oral Tradition and Choral Practice", Ethnomusicology, XXX(1986), no. 3, 449- 469.

External links

Ballad of a Teenage Queen

"Ballad of a Teenage Queen" is a song written by Jack Clement and recorded by Johnny Cash for his 1958 album Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous. The song hit number one on the US Country charts and number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is 2 minutes and 13 seconds long.

Child Ballads

The Child Ballads are 305 traditional ballads from England and Scotland, and their American variants, anthologized by Francis James Child during the second half of the 19th century. Their lyrics and Child's studies of them were published as The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. The tunes of most of the ballads were collected and published by Bertrand Harris Bronson in and around the 1960s.

Epic poetry

An epic poem, epic, epos, or epopee is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily involving a time beyond living memory in which occurred the extraordinary doings of the extraordinary men and women who, in dealings with the gods or other superhuman forces, gave shape to the moral universe that their descendants, the poet and his audience, must understand to understand themselves as a people or nation.Another type of epic poetry is epyllion (plural: epyllia), which is a brief narrative poem with a romantic or mythological theme. The term, which means "little epic", came into use in the nineteenth century. It refers primarily to the erudite, shorter hexameter poems of the Hellenistic period and the similar works composed at Rome from the age of the neoterics; to a lesser degree, the term includes some poems of the English Renaissance, particularly those influenced by Ovid. The most famous example of classical epyllion is perhaps Catullus 64.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is the seventh studio album by Elton John, released in 1973. The album has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and is widely regarded as John's best. It was recorded at the Château d'Hérouville in France after problems recording at the intended location in Jamaica. Among the 17 tracks, the album contains the hits "Candle in the Wind", "Bennie and the Jets", "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" plus "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" and "Harmony".

The move to the château from Jamaica provided John and his band with a great deal of creative inspiration, and an abundance of quality material was produced, leading to the decision to release the work as a double album (LP).In 2003, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The album was ranked number 91 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and number 59 in Channel 4's 2009 list of 100 Greatest Albums.

Hua Mulan

Hua Mulan (Chinese: 花木蘭) is a legendary Chinese warrior from the Northern and Southern dynasties period (420–589) of Chinese history, originally described in the Ballad of Mulan (Chinese: 木蘭辭; pinyin: Mùlán cí). In the ballad, Hua Mulan, disguised as a man, takes her aged father's place in the army. Mulan fought for twelve years and gained high merit, but she refused any reward and retired to her hometown.

The historic setting of Hua Mulan is in the Northern Wei (386–536). Over a thousand years later, Xu Wei's play from the Ming dynasty places her in the Northern Wei, whereas the Qing dynasty Sui Tang Romance has her active around the founding of the Tang c. 620. In 621, the founder of the Tang dynasty was victorious over Wang Shichong and Dou Jiande, the latter was the father of Dou Xianniang, another female warrior who became Mulan's laotong in the Sui Tang Romance.The Hua Mulan crater on Venus is named after her.

James Ingram

James Edward Ingram (February 16, 1952 – January 29, 2019) was an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and instrumentalist. He was a two-time Grammy Award-winner and a two-time Academy Award nominee for Best Original Song. Since beginning his career in 1973, Ingram had charted eight Top 40 hits on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart from the early 1980s until the early 1990s, as well as thirteen top 40 hits on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In addition, he charted 20 hits on the Adult Contemporary chart (including two number-ones). He had two number-one singles on the Hot 100: the first, a duet with fellow R&B artist Patti Austin, 1982's "Baby, Come to Me" topped the U.S. pop chart in 1983; "I Don't Have the Heart", which became his second number-one in 1990 was his only number-one as a solo artist.

In between these hits, he also recorded the song "Somewhere Out There" with fellow recording artist Linda Ronstadt for the animated film An American Tail. The song and the music video both became gigantic hits. Ingram co-wrote "The Day I Fall in Love", from the motion picture Beethoven's 2nd (1993), and singer Patty Smyth's "Look What Love Has Done", from the motion picture Junior (1994), which earned him nominations for Best Original Song from the Oscars, Golden Globes, and Grammy Awards in 1994 and 1995.

John Henry (folklore)

John Henry is an African American folk hero. He is said to have worked as a "steel-driving man"—a man tasked with hammering a steel drill into rock to make holes for explosives to blast the rock in constructing a railroad tunnel. According to legend, John Henry's prowess as a steel-driver was measured in a race against a steam-powered rock drilling machine, a race that he won only to die in victory with hammer in hand as his heart gave out from stress. The story of John Henry is told in a classic folk song, which exists in many versions, and has been the subject of numerous stories, plays, books, and novels. Various locations, including Big Bend Tunnel in West Virginia, Lewis Tunnel in Virginia, and Coosa Mountain Tunnel in Alabama, have been suggested as the site of the contest.

Latin ballad

Latin ballad (Spanish: balada romántica) refers to a music genre derivative of Bolero that originated in the early-1960s in Latin America and Spain.

Some of the best known artists of the Latin ballad are Julio Iglesias, José Luis Rodriguez, Luis Miguel, Camilo Sesto, Emmanuel, Nino Bravo, Roberto Carlos, Ricardo Montaner, Raphael and José José among others. Because of its difficulty, the Latin balladeers are often recognized as skilled singers such as the case of Nino Bravo, José José, Luis Miguel or Raphael.

In recent decades it has become the dominant musical genre of Latin pop.

Mack the Knife

"Die Moritat von Mackie Messer" (later known as "Mack the Knife" or "The Ballad of Mack the Knife") is a song composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht for their music drama Die Dreigroschenoper, or, as it is known in English, The Threepenny Opera. It premiered in Berlin in 1928 at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm. The song has become a popular standard recorded by many artists, including a US and UK number one hit for Bobby Darin in 1959.

Scarborough Fair (ballad)

"Scarborough Fair" is a traditional English ballad (existing in more than one version) that hangs, in some versions at least, upon a possible visit by an unidentified person (the "third party") to the Yorkshire town of Scarborough.

The song implies the tale of a man who instructs the third party to tell his former love, who lives in said fair town, to perform for him a series of impossible tasks, such as making for him a shirt without a seam and no needlework and then washing it in a dry empty well, adding that if she were to complete these tasks he would take her back into his affections. Often the song is sung as a duet, with the woman then giving her sometime lover a series of equally impossible tasks, promising to give him his seamless shirt and her heart once he has finished.

As the versions of the ballad known under the title "Scarborough Fair" are usually limited to the exchange of these impossible tasks, many suggestions concerning the plot have been proposed, including the hypothesis that it is about the Great Plague of the late Middle Ages. The lyrics of "Scarborough Fair" appear to have something in common with an obscure Scottish ballad, The Elfin Knight (Child Ballad #2), which has been traced as far back as 1670 and may well be earlier. In this ballad, an elf threatens to abduct a young woman to be his lover unless she can perform an impossible task ("For thou must shape a sark to me / Without any cut or heme, quoth he"); she responds with a list of tasks that he must first perform ("I have an aiker of good ley-land / Which lyeth low by yon sea-strand").

The melody is in Dorian mode, and is very typical of the middle English period.

As the song spread, it was adapted, modified and rewritten to the point that dozens of versions existed by the end of the 18th century, although only a few are typically sung nowadays. The references to the traditional English fair, "Scarborough Fair" and the refrain "parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme" date to 19th century versions and the refrain may have been borrowed from the ballad Riddles Wisely Expounded, (Child Ballad #1), which has a similar plot. A number of older versions refer to locations other than Scarborough Fair, including Wittingham Fair, Cape Ann, "twixt Berwik and Lyne", etc. Many versions do not mention a place-name and are often generically titled ("The Lovers' Tasks", "My Father Gave Me an Acre of Land", etc.).

Sentimental ballad

Sentimental ballads, are an emotional style of music that often deal with romantic and intimate relationships, and to a lesser extent, war (protest songs), loneliness, death, drug abuse, politics and religion, usually in a poignant but solemn manner. Ballads are generally melodic enough to get the listener's attention.Sentimental ballads are found in most music genres, such as pop, R&B, soul, country, folk, rock and electronic music. Usually slow in tempo, ballads tend to have a lush musical arrangement which emphasize the song's melody and harmonies. Characteristically, ballads use acoustic instruments such as guitars, pianos, saxophones, and sometimes an orchestral set. Many modern mainstream ballads tend to feature synthesizers, drum machines and even, to some extent, a dance rhythm.Sentimental ballads had their origins in the early Tin Pan Alley music industry of the later 19th century. Initially known as "tear-jerkers" or "drawing-room ballads", they were generally sentimental, narrative, strophic songs published separately or as part of an opera, descendants perhaps of broadside ballads. As new genres of music began to emerge in the early 20th century, their popularity faded, but the association with sentimentality led to the term ballad being used for a slow love song from the 1950s onwards.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a 2018 American western anthology film written, directed, and produced by the Coen brothers. It stars Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, James Franco, Brendan Gleeson, Zoe Kazan, Tyne Daly, Harry Melling, and Tom Waits, and features six vignettes that take place in the American frontier. The film premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival on August 31, 2018, where it won the Golden Osella Award for Best Screenplay. After a limited theatrical run beginning on November 9, 2018, it was released on Netflix on November 16. The National Board of Review named it as one of its top ten best films of 2018. The film earned three nominations at the 91st Academy Awards: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Costume Design and Best Original Song ("When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings").

The Ballad of Chevy Chase

"The Ballad of Chevy Chase" is an English ballad, catalogued as Child Ballad 162 (Roud 223). There are two extant ballads under this title, both of which narrate the same story. As ballads existed within oral tradition before being written down, other versions of this once popular song also may have existed. Moreover, other ballads used its tune without necessarily referring to "The Ballad of Chevy Chase."

The Ballad of John and Yoko

"The Ballad of John and Yoko" is a song written by John Lennon, credited to Lennon–McCartney, and released by the Beatles as a single in May 1969. The song, chronicling the events associated with Lennon’s marriage to Yoko Ono, was the Beatles’ 17th and final UK No. 1 single.

The Ballad of Ronnie Drew

"The Ballad of Ronnie Drew" is a single by U2, The Dubliners, Kíla and A Band of Bowsies. The single was recorded as a charitable project, with proceeds going to the Irish Cancer Society - owing to Ronnie Drew's cancer condition. It was recorded at Windmill Lane on 14 and 15 January 2008. "The Ballad of Ronnie Drew" is available as a CD in Ireland only. Ronnie Drew died a few months after the release of the single in August 2008.

Glen Hansard's vocals on the record were recorded over the telephone, and not in person, as he was in the United States of America for the 80th Academy Awards.

The Jolly Pinder of Wakefield

The Jolly Pinder of Wakefield is Child ballad 124, about Robin Hood. The oldest manuscript of this English broadside ballad, according to the University of Rochester, dates back to 1557, and a fragment of the ballad appears also in the Percy Folio. Copies of the ballad can be found at the National Library of Scotland, the British Library, and Magdalene College. Alternatively, online facsimiles of the ballad are available for public consumption.

The Threepenny Opera

The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper) is a "play with music" by Bertolt Brecht, adapted from a translation by Elisabeth Hauptmann of John Gay's 18th-century English ballad opera, The Beggar's Opera, and four ballads by François Villon, with music by Kurt Weill. Although there is debate as to how much, if any, Hauptmann might have contributed to the text, Brecht is usually listed as sole author.The work offers a Socialist critique of the capitalist world. It opened on 31 August 1928 at Berlin's Theater am Schiffbauerdamm.

Songs from The Threepenny Opera have been widely covered and become standards, most notably "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer" ("The Ballad of Mack the Knife") and "Seeräuberjenny" ("Pirate Jenny").

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