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Re[4]: Patch: figured bass. [Comments wanted]

From: Jérémie Lumbroso
Subject: Re[4]: Patch: figured bass. [Comments wanted]
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2001 17:13:07 +0200

Hi Juergen!

>> I'll  be  plain and simple. You are right, as I've explained
>> previously,  figures indicate chords relative to the note in
>> the  continuo (which is indeed, in most case the lowest note
>> BUT  not  always:  I have examples of hands meant to cross).

JR> That's interesting.  I've never heard of that.

>> They're just there to tell to you which
>> harmonies  to  use, but then, it's left to the player to im-
>> provise  his  own  right  hand (usually by inspiring himself
>> from the tunes he is accompaning).

JR> Of course, but are you sure that freedom reaches so far as to play notes
JR> below the bass note?  Why then is it called *basso* continuo or figured
JR> *bass*?

You're right. All treates explicitly give rules to apply, to
be  sure  hands  NEVER  have the cross. Never the less, I've
heard  people  successfully  crossed  hands,  and having the
right  hand  take the function as a continuo, while the left
executed  the  figures (not exactly that way). Also possible
is having figures on lyrics (this is a very specific case).

JR> I totally agree.  I just wanted to say that, from a technical point of
JR> view, if a lilypond user puts in ornaments, they would have to be somehow
JR> stripped off before generating figures.

I don't understand why we have to suppose that anybody would
be putting ornaments in a *figure*. It just seems that some-
body that would have the courage to typeset figured bass (it
is  a  deadly  task, trust me), would also be somebody who'd
have  a  little  knowledge about what he's doing. I wouldn't
have dare thought about typesetting the figures, if I didn't
have  little  experience  playing it (of course this is only
true  for more advanced things as figured bass, that require
editorial  thoughts, rather than plain copying). If ever or-
naments were to be put, it would be on the continuo.

>> I'm against,
>> and  always will be converting notes into figures. Most peo-
>> ple  (including  me) will want to directly include their fi-
>> gures (and note pass my some imprecise second mean).

JR> I agree in so far, as composers of the baroque period most probably
JR> thought in terms of figured bass rather than in terms of what finally come
JR> out during performance.

No composers did think of figured bass in terms of resulting
music.  Maybe  I'm  just  telling you something you know, or
maybe I'm not, but figured bas was invented by composers who
didn't  have  the  time  to compose the bass in beetween two
compositions  (if they had, there would be twice as less mu-
sic  from  them),  so they indicated basic harmonic instruc-
tions to assist the performer in his act.

It was then those same composers  (who were already making a
big  ruckous on the liberty tooken with ornaments), that de-
cided  it was giving too much liberty to the performers.

This  is partly why you've seen less and less symbolic orna-
ments  (I mean that are indicated by anything different than
actual notes), and figured bass. Though the former also dis-
appeared  because  they  were no longer needed thanks to the
new  keyboard  instrument,  that could play "piano" and also
"forte",  and  were  notes  lasted longer, thus deleting any
real need for "agréments".

JR> In particular, the piano part (or cembalo part,
JR> if you like) mostly contains a fully written-out version that has been
JR> added by some editor, while the original manuscripts almost always
JR> contained the figured bass only.  However, it might be an interesting
JR> challenge to enter both, a figured bass and a fully-fledged cembalo part,
JR> and to let lily it automatically check the cembalo part against the
JR> figured bass for consistency.  This is, why converting notes into figures
JR> may be intersting.

I  see  your  point  clearly, put surely, there isn't a real
need  to  convert  notes  into the figures, to have Lilypond
understand  it.  It  would much easier to have a Figure con-
text,  attached to a Voice context. Lilypond than calculates
the  chords  from  the intervals and the notes: generating a
fully  fledged harpsichord part. Put this in my opinion as a
SECOND  step. I thinki we should about getting the implemen-
tation  graphically available before having Lilypond take it
in account as real notes.

Kind Regards,
 Jérémie                            mailto:address@hidden

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