A ballad is a poem that tells a story. Very basic. A ballad has a musical quality and uses regular rhyme and strong rhythm, often iambic. It might also have a refrain. These devices lend themselves to memorization and some of the early ballads were a part of oral tradition.
Sometimes ballads are associated with children’s poetry. Think of “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll, and all those poems kids were exposed to in school (and maybe still are). “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert Service. “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”. “The Highwayman”. “The Wreck of the Hesperus”.
I confess to an unsophisticated enthusiasm for ballads because they are delightful to read and write, and recite.
One day I decided to write a bawdy ballad. Yes, I know I should be ashamed of myself but it was fun.