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An introduction to the male female relationships found in medieval ballads

Elements Narrative basis Typically, the folk ballad tells a compact little story that begins eruptively at the moment when the narrative has turned decisively toward its catastrophe or resolution. Focusing on a single, climactic situation, the ballad leaves the inception of the conflict and the setting to be inferred or sketches them in hurriedly. Whatever description occurs in ballads is brief and conventional; transitions between scenes are abrupt and time shifts are only vaguely indicated; crucial events and emotions are conveyed in crisp, poignant dialogue.

In short, the ballad method of narration is directed toward achieving a bold, sensational, dramatic effect with purposeful starkness and abruptness. But despite the rigid economy of ballad narratives, a repertory of rhetorical devices is employed for prolonging highly charged moments in the story and thus thickening the emotional atmosphere.

In the most famous of such devices, incremental repetitiona phrase or stanza is repeated several times with a slight but significant substitution at the same critical point. Suspense accumulates with each substitution, until at last the final and revelatory substitution bursts the pattern, achieving a climax and with it a release of powerful tensions. The following stanza is a typical example: Oral transmission Since ballads thrive among unlettered people and are freshly created from memory at each separate performance, they are subject to constant variation in both text and tune.

Where tradition is healthy and not highly influenced by literary or other outside cultural influences, these variations keep the ballad alive by gradually bringing it into line with the style of life, beliefs, and emotional needs of the immediate folk audience.

Ballad tradition, however, like all folk arts, is basically conservativea trait that explains the references in several ballads to obsolete implements and customs, as well as the appearance of words and phrases that are so badly garbled as to indicate that the singer does not understand their meaning though he takes pleasure in their sound and respects their traditional right to a place in his version of the song.

The new versions of ballads that arise as the result of cumulative variations are no less authentic than their antecedents.

A poem is fixed in its final form when published, but the printed or taped record of a ballad is representative only of its appearance in one place, in one line of tradition, and at one moment in its protean history.

The first record of a ballad is not its original form but merely its an introduction to the male female relationships found in medieval ballads recorded form, and the recording of a ballad does not inhibit tradition from varying it subsequently into other shapes, because tradition preserves by re-creating rather than by exact reproduction. Composition Theories How ballads are composed and set afloat in tradition has been the subject of bitter quarrels among scholars.

The so-called communal school, which was led by two American scholars F. Gummere 1855—1919 and G. Kittredge 1860—1941argued at first that ballads were composed collectively during the excitement of dance and song festivals. Under attack the communalists retreated to the position that although none of the extant ballads had been communally composed, the prototypical ballads that determined the style of the ballads had originated in this communal fashion.

  1. If someone abducted another person's maidservant, the abductor would be fined 30 solidi.
  2. A few folk ballads appeared on broadsheets; many ballads, however, were originally broadside ballads the folk adapted.
  3. Refrain is a phrase or a line, which is repeated again and again after a stanza.
  4. A few ballads have stanza-length burdens interspersed between the narrative stanzas, a technique borrowed from the medieval carols. As the human body better absorbs iron from liver, iron salts, and meat than from grains and vegetables, the grain-heavy medieval diet commonly resulted in iron deficiency and, by extension, general anemia for medieval women.
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Their opponents were the individualists, who included the British men of letters W. They held that each ballad was the work of an individual composer, who was not necessarily a folk singer, tradition serving simply as the vehicle for the oral perpetuation of the creation.

According to the widely accepted communal re-creation theory, put forward by the American collector Phillips Barry 1880—1937 and the scholar G. Gerould 1877—1953the ballad is conceded to be an individual composition originally. This fact is considered of little importance because the singer is not expressing himself individually, but serving as the deputy of the public voice, and because a ballad does not become a ballad until it has been accepted by the folk community and been remolded by the inevitable variations of tradition into a communal product.

Ballads have also been thought to derive from art songs, intended for sophisticated audiences, which happened to filter down to a folk level and become folk song. This view, though plausible in the case of certain folk lyrics, is inapplicable to the ballads, for if the ballads were simply miscellaneous castoffs, it would not be possible to discern so clearly in them a style that is unlike anything in sophisticated verse. Technique and form Ballads are normally composed in two kinds of stanzas ; the first consists of a couplet of lines each with four stressed syllables, and with an interwoven refrain: But it would have made your heart right sair, An introduction to the male female relationships found in medieval ballads a hey ho and a lillie gay To see the bridegroom rive his haire.

As the primrose spreads so sweetly the second a stanza of alternating lines of four stresses and three stresses, the second and fourth lines rhyming: Reference to the tunes show that the three-stress lines actually end in an implied fourth stress to match the pause in the musical phrase at these points.

A few ballads have stanza-length burdens interspersed between the narrative stanzas, a technique borrowed from the medieval carols. The lyrical and incantatory effect of refrains during the ballad performance is very appealing, but in cold print they often look ridiculous, which is perhaps why early collectors failed to note them. In the first example above, it will be noted that the gaiety of the refrain is at an introduction to the male female relationships found in medieval ballads with the mood of the meaningful lines.

So he ordered the grave to be opened wide, And the shroud to be turned down; And there he kissed her clay cold lips Till the tears came trickling down, down, down, Till the tears came trickling down The refrain is just one of the many kinds of repetition employed in ballads.

Since ballads are performed orally, the hearer cannot turn back a page to recover a vital detail that slipped by in a moment of inattention. Crucial facts in narrative, therefore, are incised in the memory by skillful repetition; instructions given in a speech are exactly repeated when the singer reports the complying action; answers follow the form of the questions that elicited them. The exigencies of oral performance also account for the conventional stereotyped imagery of the ballads.

For unlike the poet, who reaches for the individualistic, arresting figure of speechthe ballad singer seldom ventures beyond a limited stock of images and descriptive adjectives.

Knights are always gallant, swords royal, water wan, and ladies gay. Whatever is red is as red as blood, roses, coral, rubies, or cherries; white is stereotyped as snow white, lily white, or milk white.

The resulting bareness of verbal texturehowever, is more than compensated for by the dramatic rhetoric through which the narrative is projected. Originality indeed, like anything else that exalts the singer, violates ballad decorumwhich insists that the singer remain impersonal.

The Ballad: Definition, Types, and Characteristics

Music A ballad is not technically a ballad unless it is sung; but though tunes and texts are dynamically interdependent, it is not unusual to find an introduction to the male female relationships found in medieval ballads same version of a ballad being sung to a variety of tunes of suitable rhythm and metre or to find the same tune being used for several different ballads.

And just as there are clusters of versions for most ballads, so a given ballad may have associated with it a family of tunes whose members appear to be versions of a single prototypical form.

Ballad tunes are based on the modes rather than on the diatonic and chromatic scales that are used in modern music. Where chromaticism is detected in American folk musicthe inflected tones are derived from black folk practice or from learned music. Of the six modes, the preponderance of folk tunes are Ionian, Dorianor Mixolydian ; Lydian and Phrygian tunes are rare.

The folk music least affected by sophisticated conditioning does not avail itself of the full seven tones that compose each of the modal scales. Instead, it exhibits gapped scales, omitting either one of the tones hexatonic or two of them pentatonic. Modulation sometimes occurs in a ballad from one mode to an adjacent mode. Most tunes consist of 16 bars with duple rhythm, or two beats per measure, prevailing slightly over triple rhythm.

The tune, commensurate with the ballad stanza, is repeated as many times as there are stanzas. This limitation partly explains the impassive style of folk singing, Musical variation, however, is hardly less frequent than textual variation; indeed, it is almost impossible for a singer to perform a ballad exactly the same way twice.

The stablest part of the tune occurs at the mid- cadence the end of the second text line and the final cadence the end of the fourth line. The third phrase of the tune, corresponding to the third line of the stanza, proves statistically the most variable.

Women in the Middle Ages

Significantly, these notes happen to coincide with the rhyming words. The last note of the tune, the point of resolution and final repose, usually falls on the fundamental tone i. To make for singability, the intervals in the melodic progression seldom involve more than three degrees. And since the singer performs solo or plays the accompanying instrument himself, he need not keep rigidly to set duration or stress but may introduce grace notes to accommodate hypermetric syllables and lengthen notes for emphasis.

Types of balladry The traditional folk balladsometimes called the Child ballad in deference to Francis Childthe scholar who compiled the definitive English collection, is the standard kind of folk ballad in English and is the type of balladry that this section is mainly concerned with.

But there are peripheral kinds of ballads that must also be noticed in order to give a survey of balladry. Minstrels sometimes, however, affected the manner of folk song or remodeled established folk ballads. Child included many minstrel ballads in his collection on the ground that fragments of traditional balladry were embedded in them. The blatant style of minstrelsy marks these ballads off sharply from folk creations. In violation of the strict impersonality of the folk ballads, minstrels constantly intrude into their narratives with moralizing comments and fervent assurances that they are not lying at the very moment when they are most fabulous.

Often their elaborate performances are parcelled out in clear-cut divisions, usually called fits or cantos, in order to forestall tedium and build up suspense by delays and piecemeal revelations. The older Robin Hood ballads are also minstrel propagandaglorifying the virtues of the yeomanry, the small independent landowners of preindustrial England. The longer, more elaborate minstrel ballads were patently meant to be recited rather than sung.

Broadside an introduction to the male female relationships found in medieval ballads Among the earliest products of the printing press were broadsheets about the size of handbills on which were printed the text of ballads.

A crude woodcut often headed the sheet, and under the title it was specified that the ballad was to be sung to the tune of some popular air. From the 16th century until the end of the 19th century, broadsides, known also as street ballads, stall ballads, or slip songs, were a lively commodity, providing employment for a troop of hack poets.

Before the advent of newspapers, the rhymed accounts of current events provided by the broadside ballads were the chief source of spectacular news. Every sensational public happening was immediately clapped into rhyme and sold on broadsheets. Although the broadside ballad represents the adaptation of the folk ballad to the urban scene and middle class sensibilities, the general style an introduction to the male female relationships found in medieval ballads closely resembles minstrelsy, only with a generous admixture of vulgarized traits borrowed from book poetry.

A few folk ballads appeared on broadsheets; many ballads, however, were originally broadside ballads the folk adapted. Literary ballads The earliest literary imitations of ballads were modeled on broadsides rather than on folk ballads. In the early part of the 18th century, Jonathan Swiftwho had written political broadsides in earnest, adapted the style for several jocular bagatelles.

Thackerayand Lewis Carroll in the 19th century made effective use of the jingling metres, forced rhymes, and unbuttoned style for humorous purposes. Subject matter The supernatural The finest of the ballads are deeply saturated in a mystical atmosphere imparted by the presence of magical appearances and apparatus. In American and in late British tradition the supernatural tends to get worked out of the ballads by being rationalized: In addition to those ballads that turn on a supernatural occurrence, casual supernatural elements are found all through balladry.

Nye, who lived and worked on the Ohio and Erie Canal until it closed in 1913; recorded by John Lomax in 1937. The separation of lovers through a misunderstanding or the opposition of relatives is perhaps the commonest ballad story. Barbara cruelly spurns her lover because of an unintentional slight; he dies of lovesickness, she of remorse. The Freudian paradigm operates rigidly in ballads: Romantic comedies The outcome of a ballad love affair is not always, though usually, tragic.

  1. Hildegard's work not only addresses illness and cures but also explores the theory of medicine and the nature of women's bodies.
  2. The last note of the tune, the point of resolution and final repose, usually falls on the fundamental tone i. That is why; every ballad is easier than any poem to be memorized.
  3. If a slave fornicates with a maidservant who does not die, the slave will either receive three hundred lashes or be required to pay the maidservant's master 3 solidi. Wordsworth, who lived in France in 1791—92 and fathered an illegitimate child there, was distressed when, soon after his return, Britain declared war on the republic, dividing his allegiance.

The course of romance runs hardly more smoothly in the many ballads, influenced by the cheap optimism of broadsides, where separated lovers meet without recognizing each other: Later tradition occasionally foists happy endings upon romantic tragedies: Crime Crime, and its punishmentis the theme of innumerable ballads: Garfieldare the best known American examples. Medieval romance Perhaps a dozen or so ballads derive from medieval romances. In general, ballads from romances have not worn well in tradition because of their unpalatable fabulous elements, which the modern folk apparently regard as childish.

By far the largest number of ballads that can be traced to historical occurrences have to do with local skirmishes and matters of regional rather than national importance. Disaster Sensational shipwrecks, plagues, train wrecks, mine explosions—all kinds of shocking acts of God and man—were regularly chronicled in ballads, a few of which remained in tradition, probably because of some special charm in the language or the music.

This kind of hero never appears in English and Scottish ballads. But men in these occupations sang ballads also that had nothing to do with their proper work: Chronology Singing stories in song, either stories composed for the occasion out of a repertory of traditional motifs or phrases or stories preserved by memory and handed down orally, is found in most primitive cultures. The ballad habit thus is unquestionably very ancient. But the ballad genre itself could not have existed in anything like its present form before about 1100.