Iso – drone. This term comes from Greek Byzantine musical terminology “ισον“ [ison]. (Doris and Erich Stockmann 1964: 94).

It was widespread during the second half of the 20th century among singers. Albanians in Macedonia still call these songs “këngë me të mbajtur” - songs with hold. The word “mbaj” is still present in the vocabulary of singers and musicians of multipart songs in southern Albania (see ‘Phrases’; mbajtës - the singer of the second solo part).

In the areas south of Fier (part of Toskëri, see map) the term iso has been used in the transformed forms “yso” and “ysa” (Kruta 1991: 45).

The drone is presented in three ways in the multipart songs in southern Albania:

  1. As a rhythmic one, especially in Labëri. In this case, the drone group sings lyrics on the key note following the rhythmic structure of the other first part, who leads the song. But often the lyrics sung by the drone singers can hardly be understood because the drone singers do not articulate the syllables clearly. Instead, they change the color of the lyrics’ vowels by making them variants of a single one, mainly of o,ë, orein a very nasal sound.
  2. A continuous one, a vowel sung throughout the verse in all southern regions. In this case drone singers help each other by giving themselves the opportunity to breathe one after another without interrupting the drone or weakening its sound until the end of the verse. Otherwise the drone could not be a helpful foundation for the soloists.
  3. In a few other cases, both options are combined within the same verse.


bëjnë e (Kruta 1991: 44) - they do e, they sing the drone; bëjnë zë - they make voice; këngë me të mbajtur - songs with hold (in southern Albania and among the Albanian living near the Lakes Ohrid and Prespa in Macedonia); mbajnë kaba - they hold kaba (see kaba); Mbajani mirë! - Hold it [the drone] well!; ia mban – he holds it; ia mbush (Stockmann, Doris 1965: 174) - it fills it; zjejnë - they boil.