SUITE (Suite de pieces; Ordre; Partita), in music, a group of dance tunes, mostly in binary form, of a type which may be described as " decorative " (see SONATA FORMS) ; constituting that classical form of early iSth-century instrumental music which most nearly foreshadows the later sonata. As understood by Bach, it consists essentially of four principal movements with the insertion of one or more lighter movements between the third and the last. The first movement is the allemande, of solid and intricate texture, in slow comr/lon time and rich flowing rhythm, beginning with one or three short notes before the first full bar. The second movement is the courante, of which there are two kinds. The French courante is again an intricate movement, also beginning with one or three notes before the main beat, and in a triple time (|) which, invariably at the cadences and sometimes elsewhere, drops into a crossing triple rhythm of twice the pace (|). The effect is restless and confused, and was supposed to form a contrast to the allemande; but it seldom did so effectively. Bach's study of Couperin led him to use the French courante frequently, but he was happier with the Italian type of correnle, which did not owe its name, like the French type, to the use of spasmodic runs, but was a brilliant continuously running piece in quick triple time (| or f ), forming a clear and lively contrast both to the allemande and to the third movement, which is generally a sarabande.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)