figured bass

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figured bass


[From the numerals written underneath the notes.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

figured bass

(Music, other) a shorthand method of indicating a thorough-bass part in which each bass note is accompanied by figures indicating the intervals to be played in the chord above it in the realization
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(kənˈtɪn yuˌoʊ)

n., pl. -tin•u•os.
a musical keyboard accompaniment in unrealized form consisting of a series of bass notes whose chordal harmonies are indicated by numerals.
Also called figured bass .
[1715–25; < Italian: literally, continuous]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.figured bass - a bass part written out in full and accompanied by numbers to indicate the chords to be played
bass part, bass - the lowest part in polyphonic music
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in classic literature ?
They found Mary, as usual, deep in the study of thorough-bass and human nature; and had some extracts to admire, and some new observations of threadbare morality to listen to.
Only sometimes the thorough-bass I contrive to guess at, from its being supereminently harsh and disagreeable.
It would seem, however, that in establishing neat stylistic boundaries for the Baroque as the Thorough-bass Period, scholars have largely neglected, and on occasion suppressed, an alternative and concurrent method of accompaniment--namely, polyphonic accompaniment from intabulation or score.
Bach's 'Precepts and Principles' of thorough-bass have not previously been published in a modern English edition or in facsimile format.
Arnold's classic text, The Art of Accompaniment from a Thorough-Bass as Practised in the XVIIth and XVIIIth Centuries (London: Oxford University Press, 1931; reprint, New York: Dover, 1965), Christensen's relies heavily on period sources.
Arnold, The art of accompaniment from a thorough-bass as practised in the 17th and 18th centuries (London, 1931), p.329 etc.