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

From: jeremie . lumbroso
Subject: Re: Figured bass, Was: Re[2]: using 'flat' or # in a title
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2001 00:18:51 +0200

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

Mats> Agreed that this would be nice.

An implementation of figured bass in the MIDI output would be swell,
but to do it properly, I feel it should be independent - or as you
say Mats, "intelligent" - of the input.

Maybe with a "database" of chords presets, he then tries to decide
which one suits the current figure best.

But it would be incoherent to have this done, bu not implementation
of chords (is there), and ornaments.

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

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

Mats> What I had in mind was all these implicit rules that a 4 often
Mats> a 4,5, that a 3,4 often implies a 3,4,6 and so on. Such rules should
Mats> not be implemented in Lilypond since there's no standard way to 
Mats> invert the process. Even the same composer may sometimes write out
Mats> all the numbers, and sometimes skip the obvious ones. Of course, 
Mats> the MIDI output could include some of this intelligence.

Here is where matching current chord with presets would be interesting.
If the computer see's 3,4 figure than it should see that none of his
presets matches this figure and find the closest is 3,4,6 (though this
isn't always the case).

A good continuo player doesn't merrily plays the chords, in fact I
talk of chords, because they just indicate what degree in which to play
(does that mean anything in English). The executer should inspire himself
from what he's accompanying (ie: voice, viola, recorder...), and try
to keep some of it's melody or rythm.

There is also this rule (I think it's specific to French music), that says
that the player should play counter-current (meaning in the opposite way
of the melody -- or is the same? -- to be sure they don't collide).

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. 

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

Mats> I don't think you change the figured bass when you transpose, do

I wasn't aware figured bass were transposable. And even Laura, transposing
doesn't mean you have to change the notes? Isn't Urtext still? (Wow, what
a drag it must be to not be able to have a 415-440 transposer on your
recorder... Lucky me and my spinet :-))

Mats> Today, I know that some people, including Laura, typeset figured
Mats> using a Lyrics line. This has the advantage that you get
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. 
Laura> No lyrics are at all convenient in lilypond, which puts them
Laura> in a completely different place from the notes.  In ABC, where I
Laura> do most of my data entry, it's a lot more convenient; if there are
Laura> figures on most of the notes, typing them is pretty easy.  You're
Laura> right, the ones on top of each other are less convenient,
Laura> since abc2ly doesn't understand resynchronizing the lyrics with the
Laura> notes at a line break.
> > 
Laura> The major problem I have with the stuff I've done is that when you
Laura> have two figures on the same note, the spacing doesn't come out
Laura> [...]

Mats> Yes, the default is to align each syllable centered to the note
Mats> The following trick will give the desired left aligned syllables
Mats> \paper{
Mats>   ...
Mats>   \translator{
Mats>     \LyricsVoiceContext
Mats>     LyricText \override #'self-alignment-X = #'-1
Mats>   }
Mats>   \translator{
Mats>      \ScoreContext
Mats>     \remove "Lyric_phrasing_engraver"
Mats>   }
Mats> }
Mats> I had to struggle a bit to find the solution, there are some 
Mats> missing links in the autogenerated documentation.
Mats> I myself, typeset figured bass using text scripts. This will not
Mats> the horizontal alignment but keep the figures close to the notes.
Mats> Also, it's easy to stack them vertically.
Laura> I don't do that largely because it seems like a lot more typing.
Mats> I don't the number of key strokes differs that much. Maybe when you
Mats> go via abc2ly.

Wouldn't a macro be better anyway, because it can't work specifying things
with text script or lyrics, if we want a MIDI output. There must be a
standard code to define figures under lines

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. 
Laura> As I said, some way to get the horizontal spacing better is what I
Laura> chiefly need.  Maybe a special lyrics mode?  That would allow some
Laura> syntax for vertical symbols?
Mats> I hope I have shown a workaround for the horizontal positioning. 
Mats> I wonder how difficult it would be to support "chords" in lyrics, 
Mats> so you could write for example:
Mats> "6" <"3" "4">
I don't think chord in lyrics is a solution... It should be reserved
for lyrics. What if you actually need to put lyrics? Wouldn't it be a
bit of mess? Besides, what if you'd want to but them above (I figure
that's possible, I just couldn't find a good denial).

I do think it could be useful to do stack several voices in lyrics,
the same way you actually sometimes do in a Voice, when you need to com-
bine it with a second voice just for a few measures (and therefore don't
want to do YET another new complete voice, filled almost only with rests).
Mats> Another issue; nowadays most people typeset the figures below the
Mats> staff whereas most manuscripts and original editions have them
Mats> above the staff. So far, I've kept to the old practice, at least
Mats> as long as I don't provide any realization of the figures bass.
Mats> This will affect if you want to align the top or the bottom figures.

I'm curious about that. All the French litterature I have (not that many
though) use figured bass over the left-hand of the harpsichord/melody of
the viola da gamba. I've never seen any edition with the figured bass
below... Isn't only in modern, reprinted editions? Why would anybody
want to do that?

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