Ballad for the Ball
“Ballad for the Ball” is an appropriation of “Ballad for M” (see Anne Lister’s journal entry of January 11, 1824). As the story goes, Anne Lister shared the “Ballad for M” lyrics with her occasional lover Mariana Lawton ( “M”), via a letter which fell into the hands of Mariana's husband, who subsequently assumed and shared the lyrics as if they were written by "M"… which amused Mariana and Anne very much.
While the initial ballad’s title and inclusion in a letter to Mariana may suggest that the song was for and about “M”, it also describes the role of the “Ball” as it relates to the societal expectations of the time (potential bride/groom pairings and emphasis on male-owned estates).
The “Ballad for the Ball” was arranged and recorded by Emily Nyman and Lynn Berry in November 2019. Arrangement notes: “So as not to shortchange the lyricist, ALL of Anne’s verses from the journal entry/letter were included (12 stanzas!) with only minor word changes, staying true to original rhyme scheme and meter; We rearranged the order of two stanzas so that the beginning of each verse repeats the theme of “come listen to my song”.
Following the melody line closely and in its original key (key of G in a low alto range), accompanying chords are those she may have used if playing a chordal instrument of the time. The initial recording is “unplugged” in nature, with just a lead vocal accompanied by the oldest piano in our house – a 1927 Knabe baby grand. We very much enjoyed the opportunity to “collaborate” with Anne and to be able to share the song with her fans.
You can watch the full length video of Ballad for the Ball here and discover more about Emily Nyman's music on her website.