prelude (prāˈlōd) [key], musical composition of no universal style, usually for the keyboard. It was originally used to precede a ceremony and later a second, often larger piece. Early preludes represent the first example of idiomatic keyboard music. During the baroque period the prelude formed the first movement of suites and fugues. The most widely known preludes, those written for the piano by Frédéric Chopin, Claude Debussy and Aleksandr Scriabin, are independent works with no introductory function.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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