The anglophone ballad comprises a broadly defined genre of folk songs with more or less explicit narrative content. Ballads, like other folk songs, have been sung on occasions widely separated in time and space, throughout the English-speaking world, and they often display significant variation in both words and tune while nonetheless maintaining recognisably the same narrative outline. This phenomenon enables the distinction, fundamental to the study of ballads and other genres of folk literature, between “type” and “version”. A “type” is a narrative capable of maintaining an independent existence in the course of transmission, and it can occur in different and varying manifestations or “versions”. All of the versions …
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Atkinson, David. "Ballad". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 March 2002
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1214, accessed 24 May 2017.]