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

From: Laura Conrad
Subject: Re: Figured bass, Was: Re[2]: using 'flat' or # in a title
Date: Mon, 06 Aug 2001 10:20:37 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.090004 (Oort Gnus v0.04) XEmacs/21.4 (Academic Rigor)

>>>>> "Mats" == Mats Bengtsson <address@hidden> writes:

    Mats> It would be easy to add a new chord style that outputs figures,
    Mats> but I definitely doubt that anyone would be happy about it.

I can imagine an implementation of a chord style that would realize a
figured bass in the MIDI output, but I certainly don't know enough to
write it.  

    Mats> The reason is that the chord implementation internally represents
    Mats> each chord as a list of notes, which than is translated into the
    Mats> corresponding chord symbol. We have had long discussions on the 
    Mats> lists on all the different standards for chord notation and I think
    Mats> the figured bass notation in baroque music is even less standardized.

I'm not sure about that.  That is, of course what a good continuo
player does to realize the part isn't standardized at all, but what 6
means when put over an A in a given key signature is pretty standard.

    Mats> Also, I'm certain that almost all of us who use Lilypond to typeset
    Mats> baroque music are trying to produce Urtext editions and especially
    Mats> for figured bass we should be able to typeset exactly what the 
    Mats> composer wrote himself in the manuscript. 

I agree that we should be able to do this; I'm not at all sure that
urtext is what we're all trying for.  I'm most often trying for
something I can transpose to play with my 415 recorder, or into a good
key for my serpent.

    Mats> Today, I know that some people, including Laura, typeset figured bass
    Mats> using a Lyrics line. This has the advantage that you get horizontally
    Mats> aligned figures for each staff line. I'm not sure how convenient it
    Mats> is when you want to stack several figures on top of each
    Mats> other. 

No lyrics are at all convenient in lilypond, which puts them
in a completely different place from the notes.  In ABC, where I still
do most of my data entry, it's a lot more convenient; if there are
figures on most of the notes, typing them is pretty easy.  You're
right, the ones on top of each other are less convenient, especially
since abc2ly doesn't understand resynchronizing the lyrics with the
notes at a line break.

The major problem I have with the stuff I've done is that when you
have two figures on the same note, the spacing doesn't come out right.

If you look at,
you can see that the first note in the fourth measure of the bass
line, the 6 should be directly under the note, and the 5 should be
half way between the note and the next note, and they're both in the
wrong place.

    Mats> I myself, typeset figured bass using text scripts. This will not give
    Mats> the horizontal alignment but keep the figures close to the notes.
    Mats> Also, it's easy to stack them vertically.

I don't do that largely because it seems like a lot more typing.

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

As I said, some way to get the horizontal spacing better is what I
chiefly need.  Maybe a special lyrics mode?  That would allow some
syntax for vertical symbols?

    Jérémie>       The  most  flexible  way  I've  found  for typesetting
    Jérémie>       figured bass is your way : text markups. Though it's a
    Jérémie>       lot of code for three numbers.
    Jérémie>         ex:   7
    Jérémie>               2
    Jérémie>               3
    Jérémie>             becomes : a_#'(finger (lines "7", "2", "3"))

I agree.  But maybe there could be macros defined?

    Jérémie>       Though the fingering font look the best to me for this
    Jérémie>       kind  of  stuff  (small and bold), I can conceive that
    Jérémie>       may not be suitable for two reasons :
    Jérémie>          -  for  the reasons you specified (is that the font
    Jérémie>          that have an ill suited layout?).
    Jérémie>          - because it would be ugly to use the same font for
    Jérémie>          fingering  and  figured  bass (though baroque music
    Jérémie>          never  originally  have  the  fingerings,  so  this
    Jérémie>          shouldn't be too much a problem).

That seems like a soluble problem -- there must be a property
statement that says what the font is, and if someone needed both, they
could use two different ones?  Especially since you would probably put
the fingerings above the staff and the figures below?

Laura (mailto:address@hidden , )
(617) 661-8097  fax: (801) 365-6574 
233 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

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