Entering figured bass

\figuremode is used to switch the input mode to figure mode. See section Input modes for more information on different 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
  }
}

[image of music]

Accidentals (including naturals) may be used for modifying scale steps. These are entered by appending ‘+’ (for sharps), ‘-’ (for flats) or ‘!’ (for naturals) after the number. For double accidentals the modifier is applied twice. For the modification of the third step the number is often omitted, which can be achieved by using ‘_’ instead of a number.

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

[image of music]

If used without accidental, ‘_’ creates an empty figure which nevertheless takes up space. This can be used for controlling the stacking of bass figures.

<<
  {
    \clef bass
    g2 c4
  }
  \figures {
    <_ 5 4>4 <8 _ 3>8 <7>
  }
>>

[image of music]

Augmented and diminished steps can be indicated.

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

[image of music]

A backward slash through a figure is also available.

\figures {
  <5> <5\\>
}

[image of music]

For some figures, special backward slash glyphs are provided.

\figures {
  <8 6\\> <9 7\\> <9\\ 7>
}

[image of music]

Brackets can be added around accidentals, figures, and consecutive groups of figures.

\figures {
  <9[-] 8 [7-] 5 [4[!] 2+]>
}

[image of music]

Any text markup can be inserted as a figure.

\figures {
  <\markup { \fontsize #-5 \number 6 \teeny \super (1) } 5>
}

[image of music]

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>
  }
>>

[image of music]

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

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

[image of music]

The table below summarizes the figure modifiers available.

modifierpurposeexample
+, -, !accidentals [image of music]
\+, /augmented and diminished steps [image of music]
\\raised by a semitone [image of music]
\!end of continuation line [image of music]

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.

If plus signs appear after the number, specially designed glyphs are provided for some figures.

\figures {
  <5\+> <5+ 4\+> <6 4- 2\+> r
  \set figuredBassAlterationDirection = #RIGHT
  <5\+> <5+ 4\+> <6 4- 2\+> r
  \set figuredBassPlusDirection = #RIGHT
  <5\+> <5+ 4\+> <6 4- 2\+> r
  \set figuredBassAlterationDirection = #LEFT
  <5\+> <5+ 4\+> <6 4- 2\+> r
}

[image of music]

Adjusting figured bass alteration glyphs

In figured bass, specially designed glyphs for 6\\, 7\\, and 9\\ are used by default. Similarly, specially designed glyphs for symbols 2\+, 4\+, and 5\+ are used by default if plus signs appear after the number.

To change that, pass an alist to figuredBassPlusStrokedAlist and set the glyph in question to #f (or omit it).

\figures {
  \set figuredBassPlusDirection = #RIGHT
  <6\\> <7\\> <9\\> r
  <2\+> <4\+> <5\+> r

  \set figuredBassPlusStrokedAlist =
    #'((2 . "figbass.twoplus")
       ;; (4 . "figbass.fourplus")
       ;; (5 . "figbass.fiveplus")
       (6 . "figbass.sixstroked")
       ;; (7 . "figbass.sevenstroked")
       ;; (9 . "figbass.ninestroked")
      )
  <6\\> <7\\> <9\\> r
  <2\+> <4\+> <5\+> r
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Chords.

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


LilyPond Notation Reference v2.25.13 (development-branch).