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Set of instrumental dances or dancelike movements. The suite originated in the paired dances of the 14th–16th centuries (pavane-galliard, basse danse-saltarello, etc.). In the 16th–17th centuries German composers began to write sets of three or four dances, as in Johann Hermann Schein's Banchetto musicale (1617). In the late 17th century a basic ordering of four dancesallemande, courante, sarabande, and giguebecame established as standard; other dances came to be interpolated between the sarabande and gigue. In the 19th century suite came to refer to sets of instrumental excerpts from operas and ballets.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on suite, visit Britannica.com.