Definition of bourdon in English:



  • 1Music
    A low-pitched stop in an organ or harmonium, typically a sixteen-foot stopped diapason.

    • ‘As might reasonably be expected, the manual BOURDONS are made of a much smaller scale than those introduced in the Pedal Organ.’
    • ‘The scale for the Bourdon pipes is the same as the Soubasse pipes except two notes smaller.’
    • ‘These names have all been used denote a Bourdon pitched an octave lower, at 16' or 32'.’
    • ‘Bourdons are stopped pipes, that are only half the length of an open pipe of the same pitch.’
    • ‘Bourdons are always stopped pipes, thus they provide a rather muffled sound.’
  • 2The drone pipe of a bagpipe.

    • ‘The bourdon, originally designed to accompany essentially modal music, became simpler as the chalumeaux became more complicated.’
    • ‘On the hurdy-gurdy, the drone strings are called bourdons, in contrast to the melody string, which is a chanterelle.’
    • ‘In one of his best poems, then, we find such relatively unfamiliar words as apodictic, valency, crenellated, enteric, and bourdon.’
    • ‘Up to four unstopped strings, called bourdons, sound drones.’
    • ‘The hurdy-gurdy consists of two melody strings called chanterelles and four drone strings (the trompette, the mouche, and two bourdons).’


Middle English (in the sense ‘drone of a bagpipe’): from Old French, ‘drone’, of imitative origin.