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A Spanish term with a wide variety of connotations, all relating to dance. It can refer simply to an occasion for social dancing (thus as an equivalent of the English ‘ball’), or to a specific dance type like the waltz or the minuet, or it can be used as the Spanish equivalent of ‘ballet’. Some 17th-century writers (e.g. Rodrigo Caro and Gonzalo de Salas) distinguished between ‘baile’ and the nearly synonymous ‘danza’, saying that ‘danza’ referred to a courtly, ceremonious dance using grave and measured steps and little or no arm movement, while ‘baile’ referred to an energetic dance involving arm gestures, especially if performed in the theatre. Thus pavans were considered ‘danzas’ while zarabandas and ciacconas were ‘bailes’.

During the 17th and 18th centuries the term ‘baile’ was used for a specific literary form, a combination of poetry, music and dance performed between the second and third acts of a play (thus resembling the intermezzo; ...


William Gradante

[bailecito de tierra]

A couple-dance common to the indigenous peoples of Bolivia and northern Argentina, featuring zapateo (foot-stamping), handkerchief-waving and other circular movements. Melodies are frequently pentatonic and performed in parallel 3rds to melancholy seguidilla verses. A common trait is the contrast between the 3/4 melodies of the voices, violin, harp and accordion, and the syncopated 6/8 accompaniment of the ...



Daniel Party

Spanish-language variant of the international pop music ballad. A hybrid of Mexican bolero, Italian and French orchestrated love songs, and early rock and roll ballads, balada emerged simultaneously in Spain and throughout the Americas in the late 1960s. Lyrics are invariably about love and purposely lack references to socio-political issues or local events to maximize potential target audiences. Most often performed by a solo singer, early balada moves at a slow to moderate tempo, and the musical accompaniment, by either a rock ensemble or a studio orchestra, is secondary to the voice. Early baladistas include Mexicans Carlos Lico and Armando Manzanero, Cuban American La Lupe, Spaniards Raphael and Julio Iglesias, Brazilian Roberto Carlos, Argentines Leonardo Favio and Sandro, and Chilean band Los Ángeles Negros.

During the 1970s, the genre’s golden age, balada featured sophisticated orchestral arrangements and lavish studio production, a trend developed in Spain by producer Rafael Trabucchelli and arranger Waldo de los Ríos. In the 1980s, Miami became the most important balada production center, as the city grew into the main hub for United States marketing and distribution in Latin America. The Miami-based balada industry served as a gateway for Latin American artists hoping to extend their popularity beyond their country of origin to the rest of Latin America and the United States. Balada albums produced in Miami are not limited to slow romantic ballads, but also include up-tempo, dance-oriented songs. During its golden age, the majority of balada singers were males, who targeted a mostly female audience by appearing sensitive and vulnerable. Baladas were regularly featured in Latin American soap opera soundtracks, and many baladistas, such as José Luis Rodríguez, Chayanne, and Daniela Romo, starred in soap operas....


Andrew Porter

(It.: ‘danceable’, ‘apt for dancing’)

A movement, usually in an opera, intended for dancing. In Act 3 of Macbeth Verdi termed the song and dance of the witches ballabile; the ‘Galop con cori’ that opens Act 2 of his Ernani is a coro ballabile; dance divertissements in Meyerbeer's operas are titled , 2° ballabile etc. The term is also used for instrumental pieces of a dance character; the dances in Hans von Bülow's ...



James Porter, Jeremy Barlow, Graham Johnson, Eric Sams and Nicholas Temperley

(from Lat. ballare: ‘to dance’)

Term used for a short popular or traditional song that normally frames a narrative element. Scholars of the term’s history and origin take it to signify a relatively concise composition known throughout Europe since the late Middle Ages, spreading later to the New World, notably the Americas: it combines narrative, dramatic dialogue and lyrical passages in strophic form sung to a rounded tune, and often includes a recurrent refrain. Performance is predominantly by solo singers, though choral and dance elements are known in some cultures. Originally the word referred to dance-songs such as the French carole, but by the 14th century it had lost that connotation in English and had become a distinctive song type with a narrative core. The word has sometimes been used, mistakenly, as a translation for the medieval French forme fixe ballade (see Ballade), and for the 18th- and 19th-century German ballade (see §II below); the latter was partly influenced by the narrative folksong tradition of Britain and Scandinavia (...


Charles Garrett

A short popular song that often features a narrative element. The word often signifies a slow-tempo love song, and ballads became especially important to jazz repertory and Tin Pan Alley song. In recent decades, ballads have been performed frequently by modern-day crooners, jazz singers, pop superstars, and hard rock groups (“power ballads”)....


Curtis Price and Robert D. Hume

A distinctively English form in which spoken dialogue alternates with songs set to traditional or popular melodies and sung by the actors themselves. A vogue for the form was sparked by the enormous popularity of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera (January 1728) but faded out by the mid-1730s. Some 80 such works were written in these years, but only a handful remained in the repertory. The genre was invented by Gay as a complex vehicle for both harsh and subtle satire; for most of his successors it quickly became little more than a way of padding out farces with popular music.

The term ‘ballad opera’ is a misnomer. The works so described are plays (almost always comic, usually farcical) into which a variety of songs have been worked. Fewer than half the songs are actually popular ballads: the sources of the music vary widely, ranging from D’Urfey’s Wit and Mirth, or Pills to Purge Melancholy...


Nigel Wilkins

One of the three formes fixes (the others are the rondeau and the virelai) that dominated French song and poetry in the 14th and 15th centuries. In its standard late medieval shape the ballade text falls into three stanzas, sharing the same metrical and rhyme scheme and ending with the same refrain. The music for each stanza follows the overall pattern I–I–II. Approximations to this form can be found in monophonic song in the 12th and 13th centuries, when the distinction between the ballade and the virelai in particular was not completely clear. Indeed, even in the 14th century, Machaut called his virelais ‘chansons baladées’.

The word ‘ballade’ is derived from Provençal ballada, from balar, to dance; the ballade, rondeau and virelai were in their earliest phase songs for dancing, the most common dances being the carole and the tresche. One of the most attractive of the few surviving examples in Provençal is the spring song ...


Maurice J.E. Brown

A term applied to an instrumental (normally piano) piece in a narrative style. It was first used by Chopin (Ballade in G minor op.23, published in 1836 but begun in 1831). He composed four ballades, whose common features are compound metre (6/4 or 6/8) and a structure that is based on thematic metamorphosis governed not so much by formal musical procedures as by a programmatic or literary intention. Full of melodic beauty, harmonic richness and powerful climaxes, they are among his finest achievements. They were said to have been inspired by the ballad poetry of his compatriot Adam Mickiewicz, particularly by his Ṡwiteź and Ṡwitezianka, poems concerning a lake near Nowogródek and a nymph of the lake; but Chopin himself provided no evidence whatever for that belief and probably had no specific ballad or story in mind.

Franck’s Ballade op.9 (1844) and Liszt’s in D♭ (1845–8...



Kurt von Fischer

revised by Gianluca D’Agostino

Italian dance-song, and poetic and musical form, in use from the second half of the 13th century until the 15th century and beyond.

The word, which was synonymous with danza in earlier times, refers to the functional origin of the word ballare (‘to dance’). The first ballata texts survive without music from the second half of the 13th century in the so-called Bolognese Memoriali. Dante mentioned the ballata in De vulgari eloquentia (II, iii.5, 1304–5), stating that, in contrast to the canzone, it demands a singing dancer. The form is also indicative of the dance-song: it originally consisted of a choral refrain (ripresa) and several strophes (stanze) performed by a soloist. Moreover, even in the 13th century the oldest ballate were closely linked with the lauda. The numerous laude-contrafacta of the 14th and 15th centuries are evidence of this link (see Ghisi, 1953). It was in the ...



Rebecca Harris-Warrick, Noël Goodwin and John Percival

A style of theatrical dancing that developed in France during the 17th century, achieved ‘classical’ status in the 19th century, and today maintains its roots in the past while continuing to evolve. The term also describes a theatrical spectacle, in which use it has a history stretching back to the Middle Ages (see Dance andBallet de cour); as a spectacle, ballet could, in various times and places, include singing as well as dancing. Ballet became institutionalized in Paris in 1672 with the formation of the first permanent professional dance troupe within the newly founded Académie Royale de Musique (known informally as the Opéra), which occurred during a time when the basic movement vocabulary was becoming codified. For much of its history ballet has been closely tied to opera, both in the types of works in which ballet has appeared and because of the institutional structures that supported it; a number of ballet companies are still attached to opera houses. Starting in the 18th century, however, ballet also began gradually to establish itself as an independent art, one through which a narrative could be communicated without sung texts; since the late 18th century ‘ballet’ as a genre has usually meant a spectacle accompanied by purely instrumental music, although many operas continued to include ballet. The 20th century saw a shift in emphasis away from story ballets set to newly composed scores towards more abstract works set to pre-existing music not necessarily composed for dancing. Although ballet is primarily a Western art, it is now practised in many parts of the world, where it is sometimes absorbed into local dance traditions....


M. Elizabeth C. Bartlet

[ballet en action, ballet pantomime; pantomime ballet] (Fr.)

A stage work in which a dramatic story is conveyed through gesture, dance and instrumental music. It developed in part as a reaction against the divertissement in opera, in which dance is designed to delight the eye and depict a general mood, and the opera-ballet, where vocal music has an important role and plots are loosely constructed. Some consider it as analogous to the ‘reform opera’ of Gluck. Key exponents in France in the second half of the 18th century and the first part of the 19th were the choreographers Jean-Georges Noverre, Gaetano Vestris and the Gardel brothers. Their successors, among them Pierre Aumer and Filippo Taglioni, followed this tradition, and with changes in technique and costuming are credited with the creation of the Romantic ballet....



M. Elizabeth C. Bartlet


A type of French Opéra-ballet during the reign of Louis XV, distinguished by having as its principal characters heroic, noble figures, often from antiquity, classical gods and goddesses, or exotic personages, rather than the comic bourgeois and tender heroines of other opéras-ballets. It also differs from the contemporary tragédie en musique in that the events portrayed are generally festive and gay, not dramatic and terrifying. While dance, of course, remains prominent, in some works there is greater use of vocal music than in other opéras-ballets.

The term is first used in the libretto of Fuzelier’s Les festes grecques et romaines, set by Collin de Blamont (1723). Among the most famous examples are those by Rameau, beginning with Les Indes galantes (1735). The last successful ballet-héroïque performed at the Paris Opéra was E.J. Floquet’s L’union de l’Amour et des arts (1773). The term was occasionally applied to a single entrée in an ...


Richard Hudson and Suzanne G. Cusick

(It.; Fr. ballet; Eng. ballett)

An Italian dance of the 16th and 17th centuries, occasionally called ‘bal’ or ‘ballo’. There seem to be three periods of development, two instrumental and one vocal: for lute during the second half of the 16th century; for voice from 1591 to about 1623; and for chamber ensemble from about 1616 to the end of the 17th century.

The term ‘balletto’ was also applied at the same time in a more general sense. It was used as early as 1581 by Fabritio Caroso as a heading for some of the choreographies published in Il ballarino, and Cesare Negri (Le gratie d’amore, 1602) used it alongside the apparently similar ‘ballo’ and ‘brando’ as a title for his created social and theatrical dances (see Ballo). In Barbetta’s Intavolatura di liuto (1585) ‘balletto’ indicates a dance from a foreign country. Some late 16th-century references use the word ‘balletto’ for theatrical or dramatic dances that would have been called ‘ballets’ in France (see A. Solerti: ...



Ingrid Brainard

(It.: ‘dance’, ‘ball’; Fr. bal; Sp. baile; Ger. Ball, Tanz)

(1) A generic term meaning a social gathering for the purpose of or with the emphasis on dancing.

Although the verb ‘ballare’, the noun ‘ballatio’ and related terms can be traced back to classical antiquity (for the complex etymology see Aeppli), the noun ‘ballo’ did not appear until the late Middle Ages. French narrators and chroniclers of the 12th and 13th centuries used it, together with ‘danserie’, to indicate a dance activity in the most general sense. Writers of the Italian Renaissance period from Boccaccio to Castiglione reported ‘gran balli’ for every festive occasion, and this meaning has remained unchanged throughout the history of social dancing at all levels (court, town and country), becoming more specific as time progressed and as distinctions were made according to occasions, places and dress: public dances (balli pubblici, bals publics); court balls (balli di corte, Hof-Ball, Grand bal du Roi) for invited guests of rank; balls at famous opera houses (Budapest, London, Milan, Paris, Vienna); and masked and costume balls....


Gavin Mueller

[Bmore club, club music]

A style of house music influenced by hip hop that originated in Baltimore in the late 1980s. During that decade house and hip-house from Chicago and New York were popular in Baltimore’s clubs, leading to several local productions. Early club tracks, notably Scottie B’s “I got the Rhythm” (1991) and Frank Ski’s “Whores in this House” (1993), show a marked influence from British breakbeat hardcore. Perhaps due to this lineage, Baltimore club is noticeably more sample based than similarly inspired genres such as ghettotech and ghetto house and has a characteristic breakbeat shuffle built using samples from Lynn Collins’s “Think” (1972). Producers incorporate recognizable snippets from television themes and pop songs, and frequently punctuate tracks with sampled gun shots, horns, and shouts. DJ Rod Lee pioneered a more song-based style of club, in which he sang and chanted over his beats; his album The Official...



William Gradante

The national dance of Colombia. It is said to have been the favourite of Símon Bolívar, Colombia's independence leader (1824). Early references identify it with the Bunde, a dance of African origin. In the 19th century Colombian national composers wrote bambucos and pasillos, leading popular music into a ‘golden age’. Originally a serenading song for the solo voice, the modern bambuco is most often sung in duet or parallel 3rds, with strummed accompaniment on tiple (small 12-string guitar), guitar and bandola (flat-backed lute). A courting or pursuit dance, characterized by delicate toe-dancing by both male and female, it has a specific choreography with variations, involving eight possible basic steps: (i) invitación: invitation to the dance; (ii) ochos: dancing in a figure-of-eight pattern; (iii) codos: dancing with elbows touching; (iv) coquetos: ‘flirtatious’ steps when the man attempts to steal a kiss from the woman; (v) perseguida: dancing in a circle, the man pursues the woman; (vi) ...



Helena Simonett

[Banda Sinaloense]

Banda (band) is a generic Spanish term for a variety of ensembles consisting of brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments found throughout Latin America. Introduced in the mid-1800s, brass bands were a fixture of Mexico’s musical life in the late 19th century and flourished in both rural and urban areas. With the revolutionary movement (1910–20) bandas populares (popular bands) developed pronounced regional characteristics, and the lineup in regional bands became increasingly more standardized.

Among the many regional bands, banda sinaloense (Sinaloan banda) stands out, as this type gained a reputation in the international popular music market at the close of the twentieth century. The ensemble dates back to the military bands of European colonists and to the brass music of German immigrants to Mexico’s northern Pacific coast in the mid-19th century. After its consolidation in the early 20th century, band membership in Sinaloa averaged from nine to 12 musicians playing clarinets, cornets or trumpets, trombones with valves, saxhorns, tubas, snare drums (...


Jeffrey J. Noonan

A loose association of instrument manufacturers, music publishers, professional performers, teachers, and amateur players dedicated to promoting the banjo, mandolin, and guitar (BMG) as solo and ensemble instruments for the concert hall. The movement coincided with the spread of mass production and mail order magazines in the music industry and remained closely tied to music publishers and instrument manufacturers. Rooted in the activities of Samuel Swaim Stewart, a banjo manufacturer, music publisher, and creator of Stewart’s Banjo and Guitar Journal (1882–1901), the movement coalesced as other publishers and manufacturers imitated him with magazines promoting the fretted instruments. While early manufacturers and magazines focused on the banjo, the mandolin eventually became the principal instrument of the movement. The guitar generally played a supporting role in BMG ensembles. BMG magazines supported the industry with promotional reviews and direct access to consumers while the industry supported the magazines with advertising. Initially centered in the northeast, the BMG movement expanded nationally and internationally....