This ballad begins: 'What care I for Cockabendie, / Cockabendie loves not me.' The text preceding this ballad reads: 'A NEW SONG / Much in Request. / Sung with its proper Tune.' A stylised border has been included along the top of the sheet to make it more attractive.
There were many, many song sheets produced and sold during their period of popularity. As a result competition for sales was fierce and so gimmicks, such as illustrations and claims of popularity were included to boost sales. This was taken further by the patterers or chapmen who were responsible for selling them on the streets. They often sang ballads and tunes to advertise themselves, touting with other market-sellers for trade.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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