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Definition of "prelude" []

  • An introductory performance, event, or action preceding a more important one; a preliminary or preface. (noun)
  • Music A piece or movement that serves as an introduction to another section or composition and establishes the key, such as one that precedes a fugue, opens a suite, or precedes a church service. (noun)
  • Music A similar but independent composition for the piano. (noun)
  • Music The overture to an oratorio, opera, or act of an opera. (noun)
  • Music A short composition of the 15th and early 16th centuries written in a free style, usually for keyboard. (noun)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "prelude" in a sentence
  • "The move from women in tutus doing story ballets like Swan Lake to people in sweat pants running around the stage like gymnasts while a Bach prelude is played over the PA system did a great deal to marginalize the popularity of ballet."
  • "The tenuous cloud floats near the volcano's mouth, as if in prelude to an eruption."
  • "She had been gone about an hour, when the sky suddenly darkened, the wind rose and the thunder rolled in prelude to the storm."