burthen or burden: “ sweet sprites, the burthen bear,” THE TEMPEST, i. 2. 380 ; “belike it hath some burden, then?” THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, i. 2. 85 ; “that goes without a burden,” MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, iii. 4. 39 ; “sing my song without a burden,” AS YOU LIKE IT, iii. 2. 232 ; “burden of my wooing dance,” THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, i. 2. 66 ; “such delicate burthens of ‘dildos,’” THE WINTER'S TALE, iv. 4. 193. “The burthen of a song, in the old acceptation of the word, was the base, foot, or under-song. It was sung throughout, and not merely at the end of the verse. Burthen is derived from bourdoun, a drone base (French bourdon).” Chappell's Popular Music of the Olden Time, etc., vol. i. p. 222, sec. ed.
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