Definition and background:
A French poetic style and chanson type of the Middle Ages and Renaissance usually having a text dealing with courtly love. The term is also applied to a Romantic genre, especially a lyric piano composition. one of the French formes fixe, cultivated in the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. A strophic piece with an internal structure of a a b X where a capital letter designates a refrain text and lower case designates new text. Ballades could be love songs, but were frequently so-called occasional pieces, with texts designed to fit a particular state occasion. 19th 20th century instrumental piece of romantic character
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary