“Oral Tradition: Poetry belonging to this tradition is composed orally, or made up as the poet goes along. As a rule, it is the product of illiterate or semi-literate societies. It is usually sung or chanted (often to musical accompaniment) and is the earliest of all poetry, in the sense that it precedes written poetry. It is still alive in many parts of the world, and in some regions of Europe: for instance, Sicily, the remoter parts of Greece, and in the central Balkans (especially Bosnia, Serbia and Macedonia). In the upland districts of Yugoslavia it is still possible to find a guslar (q.v.) reciting verses on recent events. See also BALLAD; BYLINA; EPIC; FOLKSONG; NARODNE PESME”
Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.