a form of musical shorthand used during C17 and C18. The bass line was written out while the required chords were notated with numbers. The chords were then "realized" by the continuo players.
The Baroque system of adding figures to a bass line, indicating what harmonies are to be improvised on each beat.
Also called basso continuo, thorough bass or through bass. This is a stenographic means of indicating the accompanying part by the bass notes only, using figures to show the harmonies to be played above the bass line.
a code used by composers for keyboard players to invent useful music (see Continuo above)
A Baroque notational practice where numbers below the bass line indicate chords to be played by the continuo keyboard artist. The figures show intervals to play above the bass note, and thus constitute a kind of code for chord progressions. There is occasional use of figured bass in the Classical period and later, but when you see figures beneath the bass part, you should immediately think "Baroque." (See, for example, the figures in the bass part of the recitative and aria from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, in the Anthology. The absence of figures in the opening bars of the aria suggests that only the bass line is to be played in those bars.)
a bass part written out in full and accompanied by numbers to indicate the chords to be played
a baseline with harmonies stated but not fully written out, giving scope for a degree of improvisation
a common notation in baroque music where only the bassline and inversion symbols and chromatic alterations are listed. Keyboard players would then realize, or improvise an accompaniment, in a live performance, similar to the process that pop/jazz musicians use today. numbers specify the interval above the bass, omitting the common intervals of 5 and 3 unless altered. A slash indicated that the pitch that interval above the bass should be raises a half-step. Accidentals before numbers indicate the addition of that accidental to the pitch sounding that interval above the bass. click to play
a bass part provided with numbers (figures) which indicate harmonies. Figured bass lines always appear in a part marked "continuo" or "basso continuo." The melodic bass instrument (bassoon, cello) play the pitches indicated by the composer, while the harmonic instrument (lute, organ, harpsichord) play the pitches indicated plus the chord structures indicated by the numbers. No numbers indicate a root position triad. A 7 alone indicates a root position seventh chord. 6 indicates a first inversion triad, while 6 and 5 together (one on top of the other) indicates a first inversion seventh chord. There are many other such combinations to indicate both chords, accidentals, and non-chord tones in the harmonic structure.
The bass part of a piece written by giving a single bass note, with numbers beside it to indicate the inversion of the chord to be played.
Baroque practice consisting of an independent bass line that often includes numerals indicating the harmony to be supplied by the performer. Also thorough-bass.
A system of numbers that indicated the distance above the given bass note of other notes to be played. For example in D major with the bass note if D, 6 indicates B, 3 indicates F#. If no figures of numbers are written, played a 5/3 chord - a root position chord ie F# and A above the given bass note.
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and nonchord tones, in relation to a bass note. Figured bass is closely associated with basso continuo, an accompaniment used in almost all genres of music in the Baroque period.