Definition and background:
The barzelletta is the most popular verse form of the frottola. It is similar to the ballata and consists of two sections. The first section is a refrain ( ripesa) with four lines in the rhyme scheme abba or abab. The second section is a stanza with six or eight lines set in pairs with identical rhymes ( mutazioni or piedi). The last part of the stanza contains a volta or a couplet with the last line rhyming with the first line of the refrain. The rhyme scheme for the stanza is often cdcdda (six-line stanza) or cdcddeea (eight-line stanza). There are typically from two to five stanzas with either the entire four-line refrain or generally only part of the refrain (two lines) preceeding each stanza. The barzelletta is similar, in prosody, to the ballata, the French virelai, the lauda, and the Spanish cantiga or villancico.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary