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The word polonaise is French from "Polish." It described a stately Polish processional dance dating back to the 17th century. It has roots in folk wedding dances and later became a dance for French nobility. The music is in triple meter with a moderate tempo, and typically has the following rhythm:

Frédéric Chopin’s polonaises are generally the best known of all polonaises in Classical music. Other composers who wrote polonaises or pieces in polonaise rhythm include:

J.S. Bach
Georg Philipp Telemann
C.P.E. Bach
Ludwig van Beethoven


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An excerpt from Chopin’s Polonaise Op. 40 No. 2 in C minor is on the following page. See if you can find any rhythms typical of a polonaise.


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