In music, burden (bourdon or burdon) is an archaic term for the drone or bass in some musical instruments, and the part that plays it, such as, "the drone [pipe] of a bagpipe," the pedal point in an organ, or the lowest course of a lute. Burden also refers to a part of a song that is repeated at the end of each stanza, such as the chorus or refrain.
The term comes from the French bourdon, a staff; or a pipe made in the form of a staff, imitating the gross murmurs of bees or drones. "The drone does not take its name from the bee. It is a far older word," sharing an Indo-European root ("dhran, to drone, to hum") with the Sanskrit "dhran", the Greek "thren-os", and the English "thrum", "drum", and "dream".
This is what was anciently called proslambanomenos (Greek).
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "Burden". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.
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