FOLK 228 001: Ballads and Folk Poetry
Lecture: Monday, Wednesday 3:00-4:30 p.m.
With folksongs and ballads, ordinary people in every era have turned language into poetry and their own voices into music. Our folksong and ballad traditions contain some of the great poetic, narrative and music artistry ever
created. As stories told in song, ballads tell takes of tender love and brutal murder, of painful partings and joyous reunions, of outlawed men and warrior women, of mighty nobles and downtrodden commons. Lyric songs express
humanity's basic emotions: love and hate, fear and desire, joy and sorrow. This course will exam folksongs and ballads in all their forms, concentrating on English-language materials but making excursions into other
traditions as well. We will explore the themes and meaning of different kinds of songs, from the classic medieval ballads to the journalistic fare of the nineteenth century, from homey songs of place to frightening tales of terror.
We will explore different regional and ethnic traditions, including British and Irish songs, Appalachian ballads and African-American blues, Western Cowboy songs and Mexican-American outlaw ballards. We will detail how
folksong traditions in American played a crucial role in the development of popular music, inquire into the history of individual songs, and ask how folksongs vary from singer to singer and from country to country.
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