AskDefine | Define suite

Dictionary Definition



1 a musical composition of several movements only loosely connected
2 apartment consisting of a series of connected rooms used as a living unit (as in a hotel) [syn: rooms]
3 the group following and attending to some important person [syn: cortege, retinue, entourage]
4 a matching set of furniture

User Contributed Dictionary

see Suite





  1. A retinue or company of attendants, as of a distinguished personage; as, the suite of an ambassador.
  2. A connected series or succession of objects; a number of things used or classed together; a set; as, a suite of rooms; a suite of minerals.
  3. One of the old musical forms, before the time of the more compact sonata, consisting of a string or series of pieces all in the same key, mostly in various dance rhythms, with sometimes an elaborate prelude. Some composers of the present day affect the suite form.


a retinue or company of attendants
a connected series or succession of objects
one of the old musical forms
Translations to be checked
ttbc-top Translations to be checked

Related terms




fr-noun f






  1. suite (rooms, hotel)

Extensive Definition

In music, a suite is an ordered set of instrumental or orchestral pieces normally performed in a concert setting rather than as accompaniment; they may be extracts from an opera, ballet, (Nutcracker Suite) or incidental music to a play (L'Arlésienne Suites) or film (Lieutenant Kije Suite), or they may be entirely original movements (Holberg Suite, The Planets).
In the Baroque era the suite was more precisely defined, with the pieces unified by key,
and consisting of dances usually preceded by a prelude or overture. The suite was also known as Suite de danses, Ordre (the term favored by François Couperin) or Partita. In the eighteenth century, the term ouverture or overture may refer to the entire suite, as it does with the orchestral suites of Bach.


Estienne du Tertre published suyttes de bransles in 1557, giving the first general use of the term "suite" (suyttes) in music, although the usual form of the time was as pairs of dances. The first recognizable suite is Peuerl's Newe Padouan, Intrada, Dantz, and Galliarda of 1611, in which the four dances of the title appear repeatedly in ten suites. The Banchetto musicale by Johann Schein (1617) contains 20 sequences of five different dances.
The "classical" suite consisted of allemande, courante, sarabande, and gigue, in that order, and developed during the 17th century in France, the gigue appearing later than the others. Johann Jakob Froberger is usually credited with establishing the classical suite through his compositions in this form, which were widely published and copied.
Many later suites included other movements placed between sarabande and gigue. These optional movements were known as galanteries: common examples are the minuet, gavotte, passepied, and bourree. Often there would be two contrasting galanteries with the same name, e.g. Minuet I and II, to be played alternativement, meaning that the first dance is played again after the second, thus I, II, I.
The later addition of an overture to make up an "overture-suite" was extremely popular with German composers; Telemann claimed to have written over 200 overture-suites, J.S. Bach had his four orchestral suites along with other suites, and George Frideric Handel put his Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks in this form.
Handel wrote 22 keyboard suites; Bach produced multiple suites for cello, violin, flute, and other instruments, as well as English suites, French suites and Partitas for keyboard. For Bach especially, the suite form was a base on which to spin more elaborate sequences. François Couperin's later suites often dispensed entirely with the standard dances and consisted entirely of character pieces with fanciful names.
By the 1750s, the suite had come to be seen as old-fashioned, superseded by the symphony and concerto, and few composers were still writing suites during that time.
In the 19th century, the term "suite" made a comeback, but now meaning either:
  • an instrumental selection from a larger work such as an opera, ballet, film score, or musical;
  • a sequence of smaller pieces tied together by a common theme, such as the nationalistically inflected suites of Grieg, Sibelius, or Tchaikovsky and the Planets by Holst; or,
  • a work deliberately referential of Baroque themes, as in the mischievous Suite for Piano by Arnold Schoenberg.
Brought on by Impressionism, the piano suite was reintroduced in early 20th century French composers such as Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy. Debussy's Suite bergamasque is most likely one of the most famous suites, especially the third movement, Clair de Lune. Ravel is particularly well known for his Mirroirs suite for piano and lesser known for Le Tombeau de Couperin, both requiring tremendous skill and dexterity by the pianist.
Other famous examples of early 20th century suites are The Planets by Gustav Holst, a 'Suite for Orchestra' in which each piece represents the astrological significance of one of the seven uninhabited planets then known, as well as his First Suite in E-flat and Second Suite in F for Military Band.

Form of suite de danses

The term suite de danses () was the early 17th century name given to a set of dances, which was popularised in the Baroque era.


The Suite de dances would contain the following sections:
  • Prelude (optional)
  • Allemande - Literally translates from French as the word 'German'. It it is a stately German dance with a meter of 4/4.
  • Courante or Corrente - A Courante is a lively French dance in 3/4 time, while the Corrente is an Italian dance in quick 3/4.
  • Sarabande - A Sarabande is a slow, stately Spanish dance in 3/4 time.
  • Intermezzi - This section consists of two to four dances at the discretion of the composer that may include a Minuet, Bouree, Polonaise, and/or a Gavotte).
  • Gigue or giga - The Gigue or 'Jig' originates in England, and is a fast dance, normally with a meter of 6/8. The Italian giga is rarer than the gigue, and is faster with running passages over a harmonic basis.


See also

suite in Bulgarian: Сюита
suite in Catalan: Suite
suite in Czech: Suita
suite in German: Suite (Musik)
suite in Modern Greek (1453-): Σουίτα
suite in Spanish: Suite
suite in Esperanto: Suito
suite in French: Suite de danses
suite in Croatian: Suita
suite in Italian: Suite (musica)
suite in Hebrew: סוויטה
suite in Lithuanian: Siuita
suite in Hungarian: Szvit
suite in Dutch: Suite
suite in Japanese: 組曲
suite in Norwegian: Suite (musikk)
suite in Norwegian Nynorsk: Suite
suite in Polish: Suita
suite in Portuguese: Suíte
suite in Russian: Сюита
suite in Simple English: Suite (music)
suite in Slovak: Suita (hudba)
suite in Slovenian: Suita
suite in Finnish: Sarja (musiikki)
suite in Swedish: Svit (musik)
suite in Thai: สวีต (ดนตรี)
suite in Ukrainian: Сюїта
suite in Chinese: 组曲

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

acid rock, adapted, apartment, array, attendance, attendant, attendants, avant-garde jazz, ballroom music, batch, battery, bebop, block, body, body of retainers, boogie-woogie, bop, chain, chambers, clutch, cohort, cold-water flat, collection, conformable, consecution, convoy, cortege, country rock, court, dance music, dances, duplex apartment, entourage, escort, fitted, flat, folk rock, follower, followers, following, garden apartment, hard rock, hot jazz, jazz, jive, kit, lodgings, lot, mainstream jazz, matched, musical suite, number, outfit, pack, parasite, parcel, penthouse, progression, rag, ragtime, railroad flat, rental, retainers, retinue, rhythm-and-blues, rock, rock-and-roll, rooms, rout, row, satellite, sequel, sequence, series, set, set of rooms, sort, string, suit, suite of dances, suited, swing, syncopated music, syncopation, tenement, the new music, train
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1