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Figured bass, Was: Re[2]: using 'flat' or # in a title

From: Mats Bengtsson
Subject: Figured bass, Was: Re[2]: using 'flat' or # in a title
Date: Mon, 06 Aug 2001 10:50:24 +0200

> Hi,
> LC> But I don't think that's normal for continuo printing.

> Certainly  it  isn't.  From  all the sheet music I have, the
> size  of  "continuo  accidentals" are always as small as the
> numbers  of the figured bass, or as small as the accidentals
> used when typing grace notes... Which brings me to...

> LC> Is there a way to use the next size smaller \fetasharp?

> Isn't  there  a way to use the same font/sizing as for grace
> notes and apply it?

Yes, see the follow-up:

> As a reqest, I feel it's imported to make some easier way to
> add figured bass to Lilypond sheet music, because it's some-
> thing very important about baroque music...
> And  anyway,  it  shouldn't  THAT  much  harder (but a litte
> though)  than  the  chord implementation (that's brilliant I
> should say).

It would be easy to add a new chord style that outputs figures,
but I definitely doubt that anyone would be happy about it.
The reason is that the chord implementation internally represents
each chord as a list of notes, which than is translated into the
corresponding chord symbol. We have had long discussions on the 
lists on all the different standards for chord notation and I think
the figured bass notation in baroque music is even less standardized.

Also, I'm certain that almost all of us who use Lilypond to typeset
baroque music are trying to produce Urtext editions and especially
for figured bass we should be able to typeset exactly what the 
composer wrote himself in the manuscript. That will never be possible
with an implementation that uses a list of notes as the internal 

Today, I know that some people, including Laura, typeset figured bass
using a Lyrics line. This has the advantage that you get horizontally
aligned figures for each staff line. I'm not sure how convenient it
is when you want to stack several figures on top of each other. 
I myself, typeset figured bass using text scripts. This will not give
the horizontal alignment but keep the figures close to the notes.
Also, it's easy to stack them vertically.

As I see it, we mainly miss standard definitions for the symbols
used in figured bass. For the accidentals, one example is given 
in the mail referred above to use in Lyrics lines and for text scripts
I use definitions like 
#(define text-flat '((font-relative-size . -2)
         ((raise . 0.2) (music "accidentals--1"))))
#(define text-natural '((font-relative-size . -2)
         ((raise . 0.35) (music "accidentals-0"))))
#(define text-sharp '((font-relative-size . -2)
         ((raise . 0.35) (music "accidentals-1"))))

used, for example as
fis2^#text-sharp e1^#`(rows "4 " ,text-sharp) ^"6 5"

Still missing are the numbers with a dash for sharp/flat.
I've looked into making these font symbols and one reason
I haven't done it yet is that the numerical symbols included
in the feta fonts have a layout that's ill suited for this
purpose (look for example at the output of c^5 ). Thus, they
have to be based on some of the standard TeX fonts or on some
completely new numerical font. 

To summarize, I would definitely be willing to try to implement
a better support for figured bass, but honestly I cannot see 
how to design any such system that's better than what you can
do today (except for the symbols). If you have any good ideas, 
please post them here. 


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