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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: Tue, 07 Aug 2001 09:58:07 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.090004 (Oort Gnus v0.04) Emacs/20.7

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

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

No, that's an advantage of figures over chords.

    Mats> Yes, the default is to align each syllable centered to the note head.
    Mats> The following trick will give the desired left aligned
    Mats> syllables

Yes, that works fine.  Thanks.

However, the second figure is still not aligned with the second
quarter note of the half note.  I tried several things to change its
alignment; the example of a lyrics duration in the manual has a tied
note, and uses the duration to put a word on the second element of the
tie, but that isn't what I want to do.  

    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> I don't the number of key strokes differs that much. Maybe when you
    Mats> go via abc2ly.

Here's the ABC for that line:

cdec f2 e2 | d4 c4 | B2 A2 G4 |
w: * * * * * 6 6 * * 6 6

So it may even be more keystrokes than what you're typing, but they're
keystrokes I can touch type.

    >> 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?

    Mats> I hope I have shown a workaround for the horizontal
    Mats> positioning. 

We're getting there.

    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
    Mats> bass.

I think there should be an option of either.  It seems to me that when
the figured line is part of a score with other lines above it,
particularly a realization of the figures, it makes more sense to have
the figures below.  

>>>>> "jeremie" == jeremie lumbroso <address@hidden> writes:

    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
    jeremie> good
    Laura> key for my serpent.

    jeremie> I wasn't aware figured bass were transposable. 

They're transposable; it's just that the figures stay the same no
matter what key the notes are in.  There is actually music with chord
styles like that; I have some Brazilian pop stuff that has chord names
like I and IV and IImin.

    jeremie> And even Laura, transposing doesn't mean you have to
    jeremie> change the notes? Isn't Urtext still? 

No, that was my point -- I'm not trying for Urtext; I'm trying for an
edition to play with the instruments I have available.

    jeremie> (Wow, what a drag it must be to not be able to have a
    jeremie> 415-440 transposer on your recorder... Lucky me and my
    jeremie> spinet :-))

Yes, but my 440 and 415 alto recorders together probably cost a
quarter of what your spinet does, and weigh one or two orders of
magnitude less.  My whole collection of recorders, from bass to
garklein, in baroque, renaissance, and transitional styles, as well as
440 and 415 pitches, can be put in a backpack along with a music stand
and an evening's worth of music and carried on public transportation.
There are lots of reasons for other instrumentalists to envy keyboard
players, but portability and ease of use aren't among them.

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

I agree that if the MIDI is going to understand them there has to be
some way to tell MIDI what they are.  This is true whether they're a
special case of lyrics, a special case of chords, or a special case of
fingerings.   Logically, the chords makes the most sense.

Probably whoever actually writes the code to make the MIDI understand
the figures will make the decision how to implement this.

    jeremie> I don't think chord in lyrics is a solution... It should
    jeremie> be reserved for lyrics. What if you actually need to put
    jeremie> lyrics? Wouldn't it be a bit of mess? 

I've never heard of a figured bass line with lyrics on it, but I don't
think it would be that much of a problem to have them be separate
stanzas if you did have them.

    jeremie> Besides, what if you'd want to but them above (I figure
    jeremie> that's possible, I just couldn't find a good denial).

I haven't done it, but the manual does have an example of lyrics above
the music.

    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. 

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

So the numbers don't collide with the notes of the upper staffs.  I
have in front of me a facsimile of Benedetto Marcello's 12 flute
sonatas (maybe printed in 1700 or so?), where the bass is in score
with the flute part, and when he has two figures stacked, the top one
often does run into the staff of the flute part.  And also leaves very
little room for the dynamic markings, which are placed between the
staves, presumably because they apply to both flute and bass.  I bet
Lily would rather put them on the bottom in that case.

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

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