The exact origins of the ballads are unknown. Some propose ballads began as a communal activity, while others suggest a single composer created the form. Many ballads were lost through time. The earliest surviving ballads date back to the 14th and 15th centuries. \"King Orfeo\" is one such ballad, as it dates back to the 1400s.
These early ballads tend to be basic and not as descriptive as later ballads. Early ballads often covered several years in one or two verses. These ballads used iambic tetrameter in stanzas of four lines (aka 4-4-4-4 meter).
Ballads first really caught on with the invention of the printing press. Ballads would be printed on one side of a sheet (and thus became known as \"broadsides\") and passed from village to village. Since illiteracy was common, the ballads would be sung to a well-known tune in a public meeting place and posted for all to see. The broadside was taken down when a new one arrived. Also, since these b