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Encyclopedia > Figured bass

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. Music notation is a system of writing for music. ... Fingering for a C-major trichord on a guitar in standard tuning (assuming all six strings are played). ... A nonchord tone or non-harmony note is a tone in a piece of homophonic music which is not in the chord that is formed by the other tones playing and in most cases quickly resolves to a chord tone. ... In music accompaniment is the art of playing along with a soloist or ensemble, often known as the lead, in a supporting manner as well as the music thus played. ... Baroque music describes an era and a set of styles of European classical music which were in widespread use between approximately 1600 to 1750 (see Dates of classical music eras for a discussion of the problems inherent in defining the beginning and end points). ...

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Basso continuo

Basso continuo parts, almost universal in the Baroque era (1600-1750), were, as the name implies, played continuously throughout a piece, providing the harmonic structure of the music. The word is often shortened to continuo, and the instrumentalists playing the continuo part, if more than one, are called the continuo group. Baroque music describes an era and a set of styles of European classical music which were in widespread use between approximately 1600 to 1750 (see Dates of classical music eras for a discussion of the problems inherent in defining the beginning and end points). ... This article is about musical harmony. ...


The makeup of the continuo group is often left to the discretion of the performers, and practice varied enormously within the Baroque period. At least one instrument capable of playing chords must be included, such as a harpsichord, organ, lute, theorbo, guitar, or harp. In addition, any number of instruments which play in the bass register may be included, such as cello, double bass, bass viol, viola da gamba, or bassoon. The most common combination, at least in modern performances, is harpsichord and cello for instrumental works and secular vocal works, such as operas, and organ for sacred music. Harpsichord in Flemish style; for more info, click the image. ... The Casavant pipe organ at Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica, Montreal The organ is a keyboard instrument with one or more manuals, and usually a pedalboard. ... The lute is a plucked string instrument with a fretted neck and a deep round back. ... A theorbo is a type of long-necked lute developed during the late-sixteenth century, inspired by the spirited discussions of the Florentine Camerata and new musical works such as Giulio Caccinis Le Nuove Musiche. ... The acoustic archtop guitar, used in Jazz music, features steel strings. ... The harp is a stringed instrument which has its strings positioned perpendicular to the soundboard. ... Bass (IPA: [], rhyming with face), when used as an adjective, describes tones of low frequency. ... A cello The violoncello, almost always abbreviated to cello (the c is pronounced /tʃ/ as the ch in church), is a stringed instrument and a member of the violin family. ... Side and front views of a modern double bass with a French bow. ... Various sizes of viol, from Michael Praetorius Syntagma musicum (1618) The viol or viola da gamba is a family of musical instruments and is related to and descending from the vihuela and rebec. ... Various Viola da gamba The viol or viola da gamba family of musical instruments is related to the vihuela, rebec, etc. ... A Fox Instruments bassoon. ... Sydney Opera House: one of the worlds most recognizable opera houses and landmarks Opera refers to a dramatic art form, originating in Europe, in which the emotional content or primary entertainment is conveyed to the audience as much through music, both vocal and instrumental, as it is through the... Religious music (also sacred music) is music performed or composed for religious use or through religious influence. ...


The keyboard (or other chording instrument) player realizes a continuo part by playing, in addition to the indicated bass notes, upper notes to complete chords, either determined ahead of time or improvised in performance. The figured bass notation, described below, is a guide, but performers are expected to use their musical judgment and the other instruments or voices as a guide. Modern editions of music usually supply a realized keyboard part, fully written out for the player, eliminating the need for improvisation. With the rise in historically informed performance, however, the number of performers who improvise their parts, as Baroque players would have done, has increased. Improvisation is the act of making something up as it is performed. ... The authentic performance movement is an effort on the part of musicians and scholars to perform works of classical music in ways similar to how they were performed when they were originally written. ...


Basso continuo, though an essential structural and identifying element of the Baroque period, continued to be used in many works, especially sacred choral works, of the classical period (up to around 1800). Examples of its use in the 19th century are rarer, but they do exist: masses by Anton Bruckner, Beethoven, and Franz Schubert, for example, have a basso continuo part for an organist to play. The Classical period in Western music occurred from about 1730 through 1820, despite considerable overlap at both ends with preceding and following periods, as is true for all musical eras. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... This article discusses the Mass as a standard form of classical music composition. ... Anton Bruckner Anton Bruckner (4 September 1824 – 11 October 1896) was an Austrian composer who wrote the majority of his mature music near the end of the Romantic era. ... Ludwig van Beethoven by Carl Jäger (Date unknown). ... Franz Schubert. ...


Figured bass notation

A part notated with figured bass consists of a bass-line notated with notes on a musical staff plus added numbers and accidentals beneath the staff to indicate at what intervals above the bass notes should be played, and therefore which inversions of which chords are to be played. The phrase tasto solo indicates that only the bass line (without any upper chords) is to be played for a short period, usually until the next figure is encountered. In musical notation, the staff or stave is a set of five horizontal lines on which note symbols are placed to indicate pitch and time. ... An accidental is a musical notation symbol used to raise or lower the pitch of a note from that indicated by the key signature. ... In music theory, an interval is the relationship between two notes or pitches, the lower and higher members of the interval. ...


Composers were inconsistent in the usages described below. Especially in the 17th century, the numbers were omitted whenever the composer thought the chord was obvious. Early composers such as Claudio Monteverdi often specified the octave by the use of compound intervals such as 10, 11, and 15. Portrait of Claudio Monteverdi in Venice, 1640, by Bernardo Strozzi Claudio Monteverdi (May 15, 1567 (baptised) – November 29, 1643) was an Italian composer, violinist and singer. ... In music theory, an interval is the relationship between two notes or pitches, the lower and higher members of the interval. ...


Numbers

The numbers indicate the number of scale steps above the given bass-line that a note should be played. For example: // Look up scale in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Image:C with 64 figured bass.png A C with 64 figured bass. ...


Here, the bass note is a C, and the numbers 4 and 6 indicate that notes a fourth and a sixth above it should be played, that is an F and an A. In other words, the second inversion of an F major chord is to be played.


In cases where the numbers 3 or 5 would normally be indicated, these are usually (though not always) left out, owing to the frequency these intervals occur. For example:


Image:CBG with - 6 7 figured bass.png A C-B-G sequence, with a 6 figured bass on the B and a 7 on the G This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ...


In this sequence, the first note has no numbers accompanying it - both the 3 and the 5 have been omitted. This means that notes a third above and a fifth above should be played - in other words, a root position chord. The next note has a 6, indicating a note a sixth above it should be played; the 3 has been omitted - in other words, this chord is a first inversion. The note has only a 7 accompanying it; here, as in the first note, both the 3 and the 5 have been omitted - the seven indicates the chord is a seventh chord. The whole sequence is equivalent to:


Image:Chords C-B63-G7.png A C major chord, a G major first inversion, and a G seventh This image is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain, because it consists entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship. ...


although the performer may choose himself which octave to play the notes in and will often elaborate them in some way rather than play only chords, depending on the tempo and texture of the music. In musical terminology, tempo (Italian for time) is the speed or pace of a given piece. ... In music, the word texture is often used in a rather vague way in reference to the overall sound of a piece of music. ...


Sometimes, other numbers are omitted: a 2 on its own or 42 indicate 642, for example.


Sometimes the figured bass number changes but the bass note itself does not. In these cases the new figures are written wherever in the bar they are meant to occur. In the following example, the top line is supposed to be a melody instrument and is given merely to indicate the rhythm (it is not part of the figured bass itself):


Image:C with 6-5 in figured bass.png C in bass clef with 6-5 in the figured bass This image is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain, because it consists entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship. ...


When the bass note changes but the notes in the chord above it are to be held, a line is drawn next to the figure or figures to indicate this:


Image:C-B with 6-line in figured bas.png C-B in the bass clef, with a 6-line in the figured bass This image is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain, because it consists entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship. ...


The line extends for as long as the chord is to be held.


Accidentals

When an accidental is shown on its own without a number, it applies to the third of the chord; otherwise it applies to whichever note it is shown next to. For example, this:


Image:E with sharp and C with b6b figured bass.png An E with a # in the figured bass, and a C with a b6 b This image is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain, because it consists entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship. ...


is equivalent to this:


Image:Emaj and Abmaj chords.png An E major chord and an Ab major chord in first inversion. ...


Sometimes the accidental is placed after the number rather than before it.


Alternatively, a cross placed next to a number indicates that the pitch of that note should be raised by a semitone (so that if it is normally a flat it becomes a natural, and if it is normally a natural it becomes a sharp). A different way to indicate this is to draw a bar though the number itself. The following three notations, therefore, all indicate the same thing: A semitone (also known in the USA as a half step) is a musical interval. ...


Image:Cs with natural6, 6 and barred6.png Three different ways of indicating the 6 in the figured bass should be sharpened This image is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain, because it consists entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship. ...


When sharps or flats are used with key signatures they may have a slightly different meaning, especially in 17th-century music. A sharp might be used to cancel a flat in the key signature, or vice versa, instead of a natural sign. In musical notation, a key signature is a series of sharp symbols or flat symbols placed on the staff, designating notes that are to be played one semitone higher or lower unless otherwise noted with an accidental. ...


History

The origins of basso continuo practice are somewhat murky. Improvised organ accompaniments for choral works were common by the late 16th century, and separate organ parts, showing only a bass line, date back to at least 1587. In the mid-16th century, some Italian church composers began to write polychoral works. These pieces, for two or more choirs, were created in recognition of particularly festal occasions, or else to take advantage of certain architectural properties of the buildings in which they were performed. With eight or more parts to keep track of in performance, works in polychoral style (also known as cori spezzati, since the choirs were structured in sometimes musically independent, sometimes musically interlocking parts, and may sometimes also have been placed in physically different locations) required some sort of instrumental accompaniment. It is important to note that the concept of allowing two or more concurrently performing choirs to be independent structurally would or could almost certainly not have arisen had there not been an already-existing practice of choral accompaniment in church. Financial and administrative records indicate the presence of organs in churches dating back to the 15th century, and though their precise use is not known, it stands to reason that it was to some degree in conjunction with singers. Indeed, there exist many first-person accounts of church services from the 15th and 16th centuries that imply organ accompaniment in some portions of the liturgy, as well as indicating that the a cappella-only practice of the Vatican's Capella Sistina was somewhat unusual. By early in the 16th century, it seems that accompaniment by organ at least in smaller churches was commonplace, and commentators of the time lamented on occasion the declining quality of church choirs. Even more tellingly, many manuscripts, especially from the middle of the century and later, feature written-out organ accompaniments. It is this last observation which leads directly into the foundations of continuo practice, in a somewhat similar one called basso seguente, "following bass." Written-out accompaniments are found most often in early polychoral works (those composed, obviously, before the onset of concerted style and its explicit instrumental lines), and generally consist of a complete reduction (to what would later be called the "grand staff") of one choir’s parts. In addition to this, however, for those parts of the music during which that choir rested was presented a single line consisting of the lowest note being sung at any given time, which could be in any vocal part. Even in early concerted works by the Gabrielis, Monteverdi, and others, the lowest part, that which modern performers colloquially call "continuo," is actually a basso seguente, though slightly different, since with separate instrumental parts the lowest note of the moment is often lower than any being sung. This article is about the musical term. ... Concertato (sometimes called stile concertato) is a term in early Baroque music referring to either a genre or a style of music in which groups of instruments or voices share a melody, usually in alternation, and almost always over a basso continuo. ... Gabrieli is the name of two distinguished composers of the Italian Venetian School of the late Renaissance: Andrea Gabrieli (c. ... Portrait of Claudio Monteverdi in Venice, 1640, by Bernardo Strozzi Claudio Monteverdi (May 15, 1567 (baptised) – November 29, 1643) was an Italian composer, violinist and singer. ...


The first known instance of a basso seguente in publication was a book of Introits and Alleluias by the Venetian Placido Falconio dating from 1575. What is known as the "figured" continuo, which also features a bass line that because of its structural nature may differ from the lowest note in the upper parts, developed over the next quarter-century. The composer Lodovico Viadana is often credited with the first publication of such a continuo, in a 1602 collection of motets that according to his own account had been originally written in 1594. Viadana’s continuo, though, did not actually include figures. The earliest extant part with sharp and flat signs above the staff is a motet by Giovanni Croce, also from 1594. Following and figured basses developed concurrently in secular music; such madrigal composers as Emilio de'Cavalieri and Luzzasco Luzzaschi began in the late 16th century to write works explicitly for a soloist with accompaniment, following an already standing practice of performing multi-voice madrigals this way, and also responding to the rising influence at certain courts of particularly popular individual singers. This tendency toward solo-with-accompaniment texture in secular vocal music culminated in the genre of monody, just as in sacred vocal music it resulted in the sacred concerto for various forces including few voices and even solo voices. The use of numerals to indicate accompanying sonorities began with the earliest operas, composed by Cavalieri and Giulio Caccini. These new genres, just as the polychoral one probably was, were indeed made possible by the existence of a semi- or fully independent bass line. In turn, the separate bass line, with figures added above to indicate other chordal notes, shortly became "functional," as the sonorites became "harmonies," (see harmony and tonality), and music came to be seen in terms of a melody supported by chord progressions, rather than interlocking, equally important lines as in polyphony. The figured bass, therefore, was integral to the development of the Baroque, by extension the ”classical”, and by further extension most subsequent musical styles. The introit (Latin: introitus, entrance) is part of the opening of the celebration of the Mass. ... Hallelujah, Halleluyah, or Alleluia, is a transliteration of the Hebrew word הַלְלוּיָהּ meaning [Let us] praise (הַלְלוּ) God (יָהּ) (or Praise (הַלְלוּ) [the] Lord (יָהּ)). It is found mainly in the book of Psalms. ... Falconio, also called Falconi in some sources, was an Italian composer of the 16th century. ... Events February 13 - Henry III of France is crowned at Reims February 14 - Henry III of France marries Louise de Lorraine-Vaudémont June 28 - Oda Nobunaga defeats Takeda Katsuyori in the battle of Nagashino, which has been called Japans first modern battle. ... Lodovico Grossi da Viadana (usually Lodovico Viadana, though his given name was Grossi) (c. ... This page is about the year. ... Events February 27 - Henry IV is crowned King of France at Rheims. ... In Western music, motet is a word that is applied to a number of highly varied choral musical compositions. ... Giovanni Croce (also Ioanne a Cruce Clodiensis) (1557 – May 15, 1609) was an Italian composer of the late Renaissance, of the Venetian School. ... Emilio de Cavalieri (c. ... Luzzasco Luzzaschi (c. ... Caccini, Le Nuove musiche, 1601, title page In poetry, monody is a poem in which one person laments anothers death. ... Sydney Opera House: one of the worlds most recognizable opera houses and landmarks Opera refers to a dramatic art form, originating in Europe, in which the emotional content or primary entertainment is conveyed to the audience as much through music, both vocal and instrumental, as it is through the... Caccini, Le Nuove musiche, 1601, title page Giulio Caccini (c. ... Harmony is the use and study of pitch simultaneity and chords, actual or implied, in music. ... Tonality is a system of writing music according to certain hierarchical pitch relationships around a center or tonic. ... Polyphony is a musical texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice (monophony) or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords (homophony). ... Adoration, by Peter Paul Rubens: dynamic figures spiral down around a void: draperies blow: a whirl of movement lit in a shaft of light, rendered in a free bravura handling of paint. ... The Classical period in Western music occurred from about 1730 through 1820, despite considerable overlap at both ends with preceding and following periods, as is true for all musical eras. ...


Many composers and theorists of the 16th and 17th century wrote how-to guides to realizing figured bass, including Gregor Aichinger, Georg Philipp Telemann, C.P.E. Bach, and Michael Praetorius. Gregor Aichinger, (c. ... Georg Philipp Telemann (March 14, 1681–June 25, 1767) was a German Baroque music composer, born in Magdeburg. ... Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (Weimar, March 8, 1714 – December 14, 1788) was a German musician and composer, the second son of Johann Sebastian Bach. ... Michael Praetorius Michael Praetorius (probably February 15, 1571 – February 15, 1621) was a German composer and writer on music. ...


Contemporary uses

It is also sometimes used by classical musicians as a shorthand way of indicating chords (though it is not generally used in modern musical compositions). A form of figured bass is used in notation of accordion music; another simplified form is used to notate guitar chords. Today the most common use of figured bass notation is to indicate the inversion, however, often without the staff notation, using letter note names followed with the figure, for instance the bass note C in 64 figured bass would be written C_4^6. The symbols can also be used with Roman numerals in analyzing functional harmony, a usage called figured Roman; see chord symbol. A button accordion An accordion is a musical instrument of the handheld bellows-driven free reed aerophone family, sometimes referred to as squeezeboxes. ... A Guitar Chord is simply a chord as played on any type of guitar. ... In music theory, the word inversion has several meanings. ... See also: function and functional. ... In music a chord symbol is an abbreviated notation for chord names and qualities, using letters, numbers, and other symbols. ...


External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Figured bass (1029 words)
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervallic content (the intervals which make up a sonority), later chords, in relation to a bass note.
Today the most common use of figured bass notation is to indicate the inversion, however, often without the staff notation, using letter note names followed with the figure, for instance the bass note C in 64 figured bass
A part notated with figured bass consists of a bass-line notated in the normal western manner (with notes on a musical staff) plus added numbers and accidentals beneath the staff to indicate at what intervals above the bass notes should be played, and therefore which inversions of which chords are to be played.
Figured bass - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1851 words)
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.
The figured bass, therefore, was integral to the development of the Baroque, by extension the ”classical”, and by further extension most subsequent musical styles.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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