The chief form of Italian 14th-century music (see Ars Nova).  It is NOT related to the French "ballade" but is practically identical with the virelai, which was also called "chanson balladee."  As a poem, the ballata consists of a refrain and, normally, three stanzas that alternate with the refrain:  R S1 R S2 R S3 R.  The shorter form  R S1 S2 S3 R may have also been used.

Monophonic songs with the ballata structure are found in the religious "Laude" of the 13th century.  In the 14th century the form was treated polyphonically, especially by Landini.  The form of the ballata recurs, with modifications, in the frottole of the early 16th century.