Exploring Traditional English Ballads: History, Conventions, and Analysis

Classified in Language

Written at on English with a size of 3.7 KB.

Part Two: Ballads

A. History

Let's explore the history of English ballads using the following word bank:

  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • 600's
  • 800's
  • 1000's
  • historic/geographical/social
  • language
  • literary
  • local-interest
  • orally
  • story details
  • tempo (speed of melody)
  • traditional

English ballads originated from France, gaining popularity in the 1000's when Geoffrey Chaucer established English as a language of literature and scholarship.

As ballads spread, their language could change entirely. Their tempo and story details might shift slightly, while their historic/geographical/social context often remained consistent. Traditional ballads are written compositions that imitate oral storytelling models.

The primary purpose of traditional ballads was to convey current, local-interest news.

Since the ballad versions we know today often differ from the originals, we can only trace subtle historical facts through various versions across time and space.

B. Ballad Conventions

Most traditional ballads share these characteristics:

  1. Rhyme scheme: abab or abcb
  2. Syllabic count: 8686 (alternating lines of 8 and 6 syllables)
  3. Stressed/unstressed syllables: 4 stressed syllables in the first and third lines, 3 stressed syllables in the second and fourth lines
  4. Common topics: love stories, historical battles, journeys to far-off lands

The reason for this predictable patterning is to aid in memorization and oral transmission. The consistent structure and rhythm made it easier for singers to remember and share ballads with others.

C. Inspection

Let's analyze a ballad excerpt:

So / con/si/der / a/ while / ere / you / leave / me            10 –

Do / not / has/ten / to / bid / me / a/dieu,                          9 a

But/ re/mem/ber/ the/ Red/ Ri/ver/ Va/lley                      10 –

And/ the/ half/-breed/ who/ loved/ you/ so/ true              9 a

  1. Rhyme scheme: abab
  2. Syllabic count: 10, 9, 10, 9 (not the traditional 8686 pattern)
  3. Stressed/unstressed syllables: The pattern varies, not strictly adhering to the traditional ballad convention.

Identify and explain two phrases that suggest this ballad is connected to the Canadian Metis rebellion of the late 1860s:

  1. Phrase: "And the half-breed who loved you so true"
    Explanation: This refers to the Metis people, who were of mixed Indigenous and European ancestry. The term "half-breed" was commonly used at the time, although it is now considered outdated and offensive.
  2. Phrase: "But remember the Red River Valley"
    Explanation: The Red River Valley was the central location of the Metis rebellion. This phrase directly connects the ballad to the historical event and its geographical context.

Assessment: This ballad deviates from some traditional conventions, such as the syllabic count and strict stress patterns. However, it incorporates elements like simple language, repetition (the excerpt is a refrain), and a focus on local historical events, aligning with the core purpose and themes of traditional ballads.

Entradas relacionadas: