2.7.3 Figured bass

Figured bass notation can be displayed.

Introduction to figured bass

LilyPond has support for figured bass, also called thorough bass or basso continuo:

```<<
\new Voice { \clef bass dis4 c d ais g fis}
\new FiguredBass {
\figuremode {
< 6 >4 < 7\+ >8 < 6+ [_!] >
< 6 >4 <6 5 [3+] >
< _ >4 < 6 5/>4
}
}
>>
```

The support for figured bass consists of two parts: there is an input mode, introduced by `\figuremode`, that accepts entry of bass figures, and there is a context named `FiguredBass` that takes care of displaying `BassFigure` objects. Figured bass can also be displayed in `Staff` contexts.

`\figures{ … }` is a shortcut notation for `\new FiguredBass { \figuremode { … } }`.

Although the support for figured bass may superficially resemble chord support, it is much simpler. `\figuremode` mode simply stores the figures and the `FiguredBass` context prints them as entered. There is no conversion to pitches.

Music Glossary: figured bass.

Snippets: Chords.

Entering figured bass

`\figuremode` is used to switch the input mode to figure mode. More information on different input modes can be found at Input modes.

In figure mode, a group of bass figures is delimited by `<` and `>`. The duration is entered after the `>`.

```\new FiguredBass {
\figuremode {
<6 4>2
}
}
```

Accidentals (including naturals) can be added to figures:

```\figures {
<7! 6+ 4-> <5++> <3-->
}
```

Augmented and diminished steps can be indicated:

```\figures {
<6\+ 5/> <7/>
}
```

A backward slash through a figure (typically used for raised sixth steps) can be created:

```\figures {
<6> <6\\>
}
```

Vertical spaces and brackets can be included in figures:

```\figures {
<[12 _!] 8 [6  4]>
}
```

Any text markup can be inserted as a figure:

```\figures {
<\markup { \tiny \number 6 \super (1) } 5>
}
```

Continuation lines can be used to indicate repeated figures:

```<<
{
\clef bass
e4 d c b,
e4 d c b,
}
\figures {
\bassFigureExtendersOn
<6 4>4 <6 3> <7 3> <7 3>
\bassFigureExtendersOff
<6 4>4 <6 3> <7 3> <7 3>
}
>>
```

In this case, the extender lines replace existing figures, unless the continuation lines have been explicitly terminated.

```<<
\figures {
\bassFigureExtendersOn
<6 4>4 <6 4> <6\! 4\!> <6 4>
}
{
\clef bass
d4 d c c
}
>>
```

The table below summarizes the figure modifiers available.

 Modifier Purpose Example +, -, ! Accidentals \+, / Augmented and diminished steps \\ Raised sixth step \! End of continuation line

Predefined commands

`\bassFigureExtendersOn`, `\bassFigureExtendersOff`.

Selected Snippets

Changing the positions of figured bass alterations

Accidentals and plus signs can appear before or after the numbers, depending on the `figuredBassAlterationDirection` and `figuredBassPlusDirection` properties.

```\figures {
<6\+> <5+> <6 4-> r
\set figuredBassAlterationDirection = #RIGHT
<6\+> <5+> <6 4-> r
\set figuredBassPlusDirection = #RIGHT
<6\+> <5+> <6 4-> r
\set figuredBassAlterationDirection = #LEFT
<6\+> <5+> <6 4-> r
}
```

Snippets: Chords.

Internals Reference: BassFigure, BassFigureAlignment, BassFigureLine, BassFigureBracket, BassFigureContinuation, FiguredBass.

Displaying figured bass

Figured bass can be displayed using the `FiguredBass` context, or in most staff contexts.

When displayed in a `FiguredBass` context, the vertical location of the figures is independent of the notes on the staff.

```<<
\relative c'' {
c4 c'8 r8 c,4 c'
}
\new FiguredBass {
\figuremode {
<4>4 <10 6>8 s8
<6 4>4 <6 4>
}
}
>>
```

In the example above, the `FiguredBass` context must be explicitly instantiated to avoid creating a second (empty) staff.

Figured bass can also be added to `Staff` contexts directly. In this case, the vertical position of the figures is adjusted automatically.

```<<
\new Staff = "myStaff"
\figuremode {
<4>4 <10 6>8 s8
<6 4>4 <6 4>
}
%% Put notes on same Staff as figures
\context Staff = "myStaff"
{
\clef bass
c4 c'8 r8 c4 c'
}
>>
```

When added in a `Staff` context, figured bass can be displayed above or below the staff.

```<<
\new Staff = "myStaff"
\figuremode {
<4>4 <10 6>8 s8
\bassFigureStaffAlignmentDown
<6 4>4 <6 4>
}
%% Put notes on same Staff as figures
\context Staff = "myStaff"
{
\clef bass
c4 c'8 r8 c4 c'
}
>>
```

Predefined commands

`\bassFigureStaffAlignmentDown`, `\bassFigureStaffAlignmentUp`, `\bassFigureStaffAlignmentNeutral`.

Snippets: Chords.

Internals Reference: BassFigure, BassFigureAlignment, BassFigureLine, BassFigureBracket, BassFigureContinuation, FiguredBass.

Known issues and warnings

To ensure that continuation lines work properly, it is safest to use the same rhythm in the figure line as in the bass line.

```<<
{
\clef bass
\repeat unfold 4 { f16. g32 } f8. es16 d8 es
}
\figures {
\bassFigureExtendersOn
% The extenders are correct here, with the same rhythm as the bass
\repeat unfold 4 { <6 4->16. <6 4->32 }
<5>8. r16 <6>8 <6\! 5->
}
>>
<<
{
\clef bass
\repeat unfold 4 { f16. g32 } f8. es16 d8 es
}
\figures {
\bassFigureExtendersOn
% The extenders are incorrect here, even though the timing is the same
<6 4->4 <6 4->4
<5>8. r16 <6>8 <6\! 5->
}
>>
```

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