Burden (music)

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Highland bagpipes, with drone pipes over the pipers' left shoulders

In music, burden (bourdon or burdon) is an archaic term[1] for the drone or bass in some musical instruments, and the part that plays it,[2] such as, "the drone [pipe] of a bagpipe,"[3][4] 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.[5]

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".[5]

This is what was anciently called proslambanomenos (Greek).[citation needed]


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "Burden". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al. 

  1. ^ Gove, Philip Babcock (1961). Webster's Third New International Dictionary,[page needed]. Riverside Press. [ISBN unspecified].
  2. ^ Brown, John (1816). Encyclopaedia Perthensis; Or Universal Dictionary of the Arts, Sciences, Literature, &c. Intended to Supersede the Use of Other Books of Reference, Volume 4, p.487. 2nd edition. [ISBN unspecified].
  3. ^ Lloyd, Edward (1896). Lloyd's Encyclopaedic Dictionary: A New and Original Work of Refrence to the Words in the English Language, Volume 1, p.743. [ISBN unspecified].
  4. ^ Wedgwood, H. (unspecified). A dictionary of English etymology, p.210. Рипол Классик. ISBN 9785874642921.
  5. ^ a b Brabner, John H F., ed. (). The national encyclopædia, Vol. V, p.99. Libr. ed. William McKenzie. [ISBN unspecified].