An étude is a instrumental musical composition, usually short and somewhat difficult. Writing études became common in the 19th century as more musicians learned the piano.
The function of an étude is to be used as practice material to help a musician master a specific musical skill, whether it be technical or lyrical. Études continue to be used as teaching material.
Some of the most common études taught are by:
- Carl Czerny
- Muzio Clementi
- Frédéric Chopin
- Franz Liszt
- Claude Debussy
There are also 20th century études that use unorthodox techniques, such as the use of rubber wedges in John Cage’s Etudes Australes.
- Frédéric Chopin: Étude Op. 10, No. 8 in F major
- Johannes Donjon: 8 Études de Salon No.4, "Volubile"
- Claude Debussy: Étude No. 7, "pour les degrés chromatiques"
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Chopin’s Étude Op. 10, No. 8 in F major. Notice what skills the pianist is trying to master in each hand. Are they technical or lyrical?