So You Want to Write a Ballad?



So You Want to Write a Ballad?


This project was centred on the process by which medieval ballads are created and performed. Broadly speaking, ballads were a form of oral literature that manifested, most commonly, in the form of poetry with music to back them. They varied immensely in topic and style, resulting in a genre that ranged from long religious homages to short, crude parodies. To get a proper grasp on the style, this project was completed in two sections: research broadly expressed on an instructional PDF, and an audio recording of my own original-parody ballad.
The PDF serves as both a broad collective of the information I gathered during my research, and a set of instructions on how to create a ballad. Initially, it is formatted like an instructional brochure; anybody who reads it, without their own groundwork, has the information to identify a ballad among other musical forms, and create one in beginner form. The sources I used during my research are also listed at the back of the file, as the scope of the information I collected could not be fully represented since the guide represents a basic characterization of the topic.
The song recording is representative of both the basic information given in the guide, and the more specific information that was collected as well. Its lyrics were written to be sung in ballad meter, and therefore, can be sung to any melody that employs this rhyme pattern as well. Beyond this, it also comments on the development of the genre over the course of human history. Though ballads began in the medieval days, the style would go on to be developed and be performed up to modern day. Since I was sick on the day of recording, I used my hoarse voice to sing in the “Western Ballads” that developed out of this style in the Mid-20th Century, recording the tune to Marty Robbins’ Big Iron. My song celebrates the joys of being a marauder, while also exemplifying the principles of a genre that I had the pleasure to research and learn more about.
While I will not be including access to the MP3 file that I submitted of my song, here's a link to the instructional PDF if you would like to create your own:


Emily-Anne Maiorano