Definition and background:
A composition in A-B-A form, usually in triple meter. Originally, in the early 17th century, the scherzo was a piece of lively, playful character, with animated rhythm.A light, "joking" or playful musical form, originally and usually in fast triple time, often replacing the minuet in the later Classical period and the Romantic period, in symphonies, sonatas, string quartets and the like; in the 19th century some scherzi were independent movements for piano, etc.A light-hearted movement found from the early 17th century in various forms, but used by Beethoven as an alternative to the minuet in symphonies, sonatas and other instrumental forms. Chopin expanded the form very considerably. the diminutive scherzino or scherzetto is occasionally found, while scherzando occurs as a direction to performers. the scherzo, like the minuet, is generally used to frame a trio section of contrasted material.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary