Discover new ways to view, explore and expand traditional ballads, to see them as a starting point for musical creation.
Traditional ballads and narrative songs employ a tested catalog of symbols, poetic devices, stock characters, themes, and melodies to unfold essential stories that help us to sympathize with suffering, teach us to overcome hardship, and inform our sense of right and wrong. Adversity is in store for us as it was for our ancestors, and as we savor our musical heritage, we should take for granted that our descendants are depending on us to set down our struggles in songs that they can relish and repeat. In this creative, hands-on session, we will explore tropes in traditional songs that may assist us in developing compositions that fit seamlessly into the oral tradition. We will begin by investigating 17th and 18th century songs for symbolism of color, flora, fauna, power, religion, sex and sexuality. We will examine the usefulness of repetition, parody, and stock phrases in ballads, and explore the ways that these devices and other themes were developed in 19th century songwriting to report on social conflict, propagandize political ideologies, and appeal to righteousness. Over the course of the week, we will each craft (and perhaps finish) several compositions using as prompts traditional songs that we will emulate for their forms, melodies, and perspectives. This session is intended to be accessible to beginners who are seeking a foundation in songwriting theory, as well as for experienced songwriters who wish to compose with their peers in a setting that fathoms the past for inspiration and insight.