The original definition of a ballad is a form of verse, often narrative, set to music. In modern musical context, it’s known as a slow form of a song, frequently about love or love lost. Originating in France in the 1300s, ballads have been also found as lullabies, laments, or children’s games. They were particularly influential among the lower and middle class from 1300–1500 across Europe. After dwindling in prominence in pop culture, ballads became popular once again after World War II, sparked by the folk revival. Ballads have now become a common of music in both the United States and Europe. Here are samples of ballads and their developments within the United States.
2012 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings