Is there a music theory term to describe when a melody revolves around one key repeated note?

For example, in a piece I am playing, the melody is: F C G C Ab C Bb C. Or, in my version of "spatial awareness" ( an exercise a lot of front ensembles seem to play) , we play a blues scale, but we play a C in between each note of the scale (Eb C F C F# C G C Bb C and so on).

So, in both of those situations, what would that C be called, if anything?

  • 3
    I'm not sure what you mean by "revolves around". What is the key signature of this melody? Perhaps you are referring to the tonic note of the key. – user1044 Jun 24 '15 at 4:01
  • The word "revolving" in the original question might be misleading, if it really is an alternating and non-sustained note then I've always known these as pedal tones. So I've gone for Dom's answer. – Andy Jun 24 '15 at 9:18

Depending on how you are using it, pedal point/tone or drone may be the right terms for it.

A pedal point is typically a sustained bass note where the melody changes over it, but it can also be a repeated note between itself and other notes as shown in the example below similar to what you describe.


A drone is very similar in nature, however it is more to establish tonality and typically will be throughout an entire piece or section where as a pedal point is typically much shorter in nature.

  • From pitches given by the OP, it is a pedal point, which also happens to be the tonic. +1 – Josiah Jun 24 '15 at 14:12

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