An etude (from the French word étude meaning "study") is a short musical composition that highlights a particular technical skill in the performance of a solo instrument. It can be used as an exercise or simply to demonstrate technical virtuosity.
Musical studies have been composed since the 18th century, most notably by Carl Czerny, but it was Frederic Chopin who transformed the etude into a virtuoso showpiece for his chosen instrument, the piano. Chopin wrote 24 etudes in two sets of 12 etudes each, plus three more, for a total of 27. Other noted composers of etudes are Franz Liszt, Alexander Scriabin, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Etudes for other instruments, such as the violin, have been written as well.