I'm new to music and just getting to know the terms, so I read a bit on sites like wikipedia and watched some videos, but I still find hard to answer the following things about Copland's 1938 Billy the Kid:

  1. Why is it called a Suite? Is it because there are no stops in between its parts?
  2. Is that a single movement piece?
  3. How can one divide its nuances?
  • What does it mean to "divide a nuance"? Are you asking how could/should one break the piece into smaller sections to better understand and analyze it? Jan 17, 2016 at 16:24
  • Exactly, TW, that was my idea.
    – Patrick
    Jan 17, 2016 at 16:50

1 Answer 1


"Suite" is a traditional name for a collection of pieces, each in a different dance style. Bach used Allamande, Bouree, Minuet.... It's also often used for a concert selection of excerpts from a ballet e.g. Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake Suite. Whether there is an appreciable pause between sections is unimportant, the point is that there ARE clearly-defined sections. If the tunes were combined more freely, a title such as "Rhapsody on themes from Billy the Kid" might be more appropriate. I don't think you'll have any trouble hearing (and seeing in the score) where one section ends, another begins!

  • 1
    That's one part of the definition. The Suite in this case is a collection of excerpts from the full ballet. Usually the music is titled "Suite from Ballet XXXX" (many Stravinsky ballets had suites generated for things like pops concerts). Jan 18, 2016 at 13:08

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