noun \ˈba-ləd\

: a slow popular song that is typically about love

: a kind of poem or song that tells a story (such as a story about a famous person from history)

Full Definition of BALLAD

a :  a narrative composition in rhythmic verse suitable for singing
b :  an art song accompanying a traditional ballad
:  a simple song :  air
:  a popular song; especially :  a slow romantic or sentimental song
bal·lad·ic \bə-ˈla-dik, ba-\ adjective

Examples of BALLAD

  1. a ballad about King Arthur
  2. <a haunting ballad about lost love and loneliness>

Origin of BALLAD

Middle English balade ballade, song, from Middle French, from Old Occitan balada dance, song sung while dancing, from balar to dance, from Late Latin ballare
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Music Terms

cacophony, chorister, concerto, counterpoint, madrigal, obbligato, presto, presto, refrain, riff, segue


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Form of short narrative folk song. Its distinctive style crystallized in Europe in the late Middle Ages as part of the oral tradition, and it has been preserved as a musical and literary form. The oral form has persisted as the folk ballad, and the written, literary ballad evolved from the oral tradition. The folk ballad typically tells a compact tale with deliberate starkness, using devices such as repetition to heighten effects. The modern literary ballad (e.g., those by W.H. Auden, Bertolt Brecht, and Elizabeth Bishop) recalls in its rhythmic and narrative elements the traditions of folk balladry.


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