I am searching for songs that have a constant note throughout the whole song. For example "The Beatles - Tomorrow Never Knows" has has a C in the background through the whole track.

My plan is to put together a playlist of popular songs with at least one song for each note to train your perfect pitch.

But it would also be beneficial, if the standing-note is only found in every background chord, for example on a guitar, you often find those when one finger is kept in one position through the whole song.

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    It's called a pedal or a drone, however the terms are also used to mean other things so are not likely to be easily searchable.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 16:26
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    It's a given in Indian classical music. See tanpura.
    – Rusi
    Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 17:27
  • For some examples, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_(music)#Use_in_musical_compositions
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 15:11
  • In byzantine chant specifically it is called an Ison (literally, that which stays the same), and the person who sings it (and by extension the vocal part in a byzantine score) the "Isokrates" (literally, "he who holds the Ison") Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 18:09
  • You might check out this list of songs from a previous question about developing perfect pitch.
    – Aaron
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 7:21

4 Answers 4


This is called "Drone". There is a special minimalistic style for this:

A drone is defined as: "A harmonic or monophonic effect or accompaniment where a note or chord is continuously sounded throughout most or all of a piece."

  • 1
    As I noted in my comment above, that's not going to be easy to search. No-one, I mean no-one, is going to include that information in any song info. Also, a pedal is not quite the same as a drone. A drone in the traditional sense is like bagpipes; continuous & unrelenting, related only vaguely to the other harmonic content of a piece. A pedal, on the other hand, is a definite 'statement of intent' that a single note or phrase is repeated throughout a piece or significant sections of it. Again… no-one is ever going to include that in the piece's info section.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 17:25
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    If you search for "drone music" you find a lot of music that fits for drone-flights but search for the german word "Bordunmusik" and you find something like this: youtube.com/watch?v=-uFdnWQhEHs&list=PL1C339F52ED0F4C08
    – rubo77
    Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 17:54
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    Sure… if you search for another term in another language you might well get different results. As this is an English language site, we're really not expected to know what 'drone' may translate to in other languages, nor what those words may return in google searches.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 18:03
  • I note (ha!) that "drone music" is listed as originating in the 1960s. That would therefore be a very narrow definition, as the continual note has been around since essentially the invention of polyphony
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 15:06

I search for songs, that have a note, that stays through the whole song?

My plan is to put together a playlist with popular songs with at least one song for each note to train your perfect pitch.

In Western music there are many examples with a note that is kept for a long time but usually a change happens sooner or later. On a piano or giutar it is a repeated note since you can not sustain a note on those instruments. It is usually referred to as a pedal ponit.

You want popular songs, so I am not sure what you think of the following pieces. At least for some people they are popular.

Chopin's Rain Drop Prelude for piano. It has a constant repeated A♭, sometimes notated as G♯. There are a few bars where the repeated note changes to another one, but only for a short while, after which the music goes back to the repeated A♭/G♯. Here is an image from the piece: enter image description here

Stravinsky's Augurs of Spring (from the The Rite of Spring) has one chord that is repeated during the entire movement. Here it is on YouTube: Augurs of Spring

  • I looked up the Chopin piece on Spotify. There it had the term Sostenuto in the name, which sounds like a plausible version of the term in classical music.
    – JAD
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 8:20
  • @JAD Sostenuto refers to the overall feel of the music, which could mean a bit withheld or sustained in the melodic line here and there, somewhat rubato and the overall tempo fairly calm. You can listen to different YouTube videos and hear how different pelple play it. Here is an example: youtube.com/watch?v=dPQMPu3vLjg Lang Lang stops frequently and explains his way of interpreting the music. Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 15:47

"Immovable", as in The Immovable Do by Percy Grainger?

A comment on the video says:

Legend has it that this piece originated when Grainger was at home, practicing on a harmonium (a form of reed-organ), when a note (a high "C") began to cipher (malfunction where the note sounds continuously, even after the key is released). Being a composer, and a curious man, Grainger began to improvise around the note, turning the idea of a "pedal-point" in the bass upside-down, and this piece was the result. When originally published, Grainger included the sub-title: "The Ciphering C".

  • It's a believable story. Where did you get it? Nice to see Grainger mentioned. His Shallow Brown is hardly ever off my turntable. (Adobe have another name for this turntable but I can't remember it.) The idea of an inverted pedal-point wasn't new, btw. Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 17:43
  • @OldBrixtonian: As I said, it's one of the comments on the video itself. Actually, the way I first heard it, the stuck key happened during a live performance, and he improvised the whole thing, but the story above is a bit more believable.
    – Dave Tweed
    Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 17:59
  • Oh sorry! I thought that was a link simply to a piece of music and thought I'd listen to it later. Yes - more believable! Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 18:57

A drone perhaps? But, apart from bagpipe music - where it's a feature of the instrument rather than of the song - you're not going to find many in Western music. 'Tomorrow Never Knows' borrows elements of Indian music including the sitar drone. It's a bit of a one-off!

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    A huge amount of world music makes frequent use of drones in songs. (Probably most commonly known is Indian music, but a lot of South Asian, African, aboriginal Australian, etc. music uses them.) I doubt that's what OP is looking for, but it's not just bagpipe music.
    – Athanasius
    Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 19:52
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    Drones are very common in some western music genres and styles! One example is electronic music, where entire genres are based on drones. Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 2:16
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    Drones are ubiquitous in five-string banjo, where the fifth string is seldom fretted but often sounded. Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 17:27
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    Drones are an intrinsic part of the hurdy-gurdy / vielle, so feature heavily in French and also Eastern European traditional musics. Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 10:08

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