Sixteenth Century Ballads: A work in progress

.. neither is there anie tune or stroke which may be sung or plaide on instruments, which hath not some poetical ditties framed according to the numbers thereof: some to Rogero, some to Trenchmore, ... to Galliardes, to Pavines, to Iygges, to Brawles, to all manner of tunes which everie Fidler knowes better then myself.'

William Webbe, Discourse of English Poetrie, 1586


Much attention is paid to post-1600 ballads, both traditional and broadsides, but only a few sixteenth century ballads are known. Of the ones which are known, most are not printed with the lyrics and tunes together, so are not very accessible to the casual reader. The goal of this project is to produce a collection of "interesting" ballads from before 1600, containing sheet music and lyrics, both in their original form, and in a form intelligible to a modern listener.

Details about the key sources can be found in the bibliography of early music materials; Livingston and Simpson are excellent secondary sources, while transcriptions of the words to the ballads are found in sources such as Collmann and Lilly, which were printed in the Victorian era.

The work so far:

Related on-line materials:

Online Books

If you would like to help with this project, please contact me via email.

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Gregory Blount of Isenfir (Greg Lindahl)