Figured Bass Helper (MU110, 112, 210, and 212)

Dr. James E. Perone


Number(s):

What it/they mean(s):

no numbers

A root position triad built on the given bass note.

6

A first inversion triad--the third of the chord is in the bass. Note that "6" is really an abbreviation of 63 meaning that you will need to add a sixth and a third above the given bass note. Note that the sixth above the bass will be the chord's root.

64

A second inversion triad--the fifth of the chord is in the bass. You will also need to add a sixth and a fourth above the bass note. Note that the fourth above the bass will be the chord's root.

7

A root position seventh chord built on the given bass note. You will need to add the third, fifth and seventh. If you decide to double the root, you may omit the fifth.

65

A first inversion seventh chord--the third of the chord is in the bass. You will need to add a sixth and a fifth above the bass note. At that point, you will probably notice that you only have three notes; also add a third above the bass (this will be the missing fith of the chord).

43

A second inversion seventh chord--the fifth of the chord is in the bass. You will need to add a fourth and third above the bass note. Again, noticing that your chord contains only three notes, add a sixth above to fill in the missing third of the chord.

42

A third inversion seventh chord--the seventh of the chord is in the bass. You will need, following the pattern for the previous chords, to add a fourth and a second above the bass note. The note that is not included in the figured bass numbers is the fifth of the chord, which can be added by including a sixth above the bass note.

 

Remember that it is crucial both to get the right notes and the right root (for the purposes of Roman numeral analysis). Remember too that an accidental with no number refers to the third above the given bass note. Using the above chart and a little calculating, you should be able to get both the right notes and figure out what the root is.

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