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date: 26 February 2021


  • 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 ...

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