Figured bass in ossias

The new figured bass feature is wonderful. It’s enormously exciting to see such a niche feature so robustly implemented in software that’s only 4 years old, when the competition has been around more than 5 times that long and has nothing like that to offer. (“More worksheets, yay!”)

That being said, I think I’ve run into a limitation. I need ossia staves to print figures in my current project, and these figures sometimes need to be different than those in the prevailing bass line. I can’t make either of these things happen. I read that local figures are assignable on a per-instrument basis—therefore, as ossias are part of the current instrument, they don’t respond to local figures. But shouldn’t they be able to at least show the instrument’s figures? And I would appreciate the ability to define local figures for ossias—presumably somebody else out there also has that need?

Possibly the best solution in this case involves using Figurato on the ossia staves. My other idea is assigning another instrument to the layout, and hiding/showing staves as necessary—but that seems like it might be fraught with other issues.

Could you create another instrument, mark it as you desire, and then use the cue feature to display it in the ossia staff?

Could you point me at any published editions that pull a trick like this?

I don’t think this can be accommodated at the moment even with local figured bass because it will still only appear on a single staff belonging to an instrument, as you say.

Ooo, cues are a good idea. Let me try that.

I don’t know of a published edition that does this. The use case is Telemann chorale harmonizations, which have a number of alternative melodic/harmonic fragments, and I’m trying to show some of them simultaneously underneath the “main” melodic/harmonic form. Telemann basically gives them as footnotes after a fashion, but it would be slick to have them right there in their actual rhythmic position.

Right. Another option would be to input them as separate flows and then position them using layout-specific music frames, but of course there’s a penalty to doing that in that you have to manoeuvre the frames around yourself.

In Bärenreiter’s edition of Handel’s Water Music, the bass sometimes has to be separated into two groups, and the figures are ascribed to either the top staff or the bottom staff according to which group “cembalo” is in. I thought of taking pics, but in the end I believe a quick perusal of the IMSLP copy is easier.

For me however, since I can make as many parts layouts as I want, I don’t find this at all crippling in terms of how to publish parts with or without figures since Dorico is very flexible; so I don’t really care where they are on the full score. But since FB and staff management is being mentioned here, I thought I should share the info.

Update: I finally had a chance to try this. Cues don’t preserve figures, either in ossia staves or normal staves. I tried simply using “add staff below” and changing the size, but the size of the main staff changes along with the staff below it.

So I’m still stuck without a semantic solution. Figurato is the best bet at this point—but the number forms in Figurato aren’t exactly the same as the number forms in Dorico’s native figured bass. Can I do anything (easy) to make them match? Altering the symbols in the symbol editor is a possibility, but labor-intensive and a lot of trial and error to figure out which item in the font corresponds to what.

Right now you can use Figurato as the plain font for FB. I do also plan to make a SMuFL-compliant update available soon, which will allow you to completely replace Bravura with Figurato for FB. Then you can use the old workarounds for two-digit numbers and parentheses as long as necessary and use the proper feature for everything else, with the same font style.

First of all, thank you so much for supporting figured bass! It is wonderful to finally have a native solution and not have to muck around with specialized fonts.

Is it at all possible to add figured bass to additional, non-ossia bass staves? It does not appear to work, so I assume the answer is “No.”

I know that figured bass is not currently intended for academic analysis, but might you consider allowing additional (ossia or non-ossia) bass staves to carry figured bass in future versions of Dorico? I would like to be able to mimic something like page 12 of http://derekremes.com/wp-content/uploads/compendium_english.pdf.

Also, it would be nice to have a third option for how figured bass responds to changes in the underlying bass note. Right now, as I understand it, the two options are “Transpose figured bass” and “Remove figured bass” when the bass note is changed. A third, “Trust me – leave figured bass unchanged” option would be nice, as I am finding myself transposing the bass note and the upper voices by the same interval.

Thanks so much!

Did you know that you can transpose figured bass? Select a passage including the figures and use the transpose dialog or popover.

I just wish it worked with Alt+arrow keys too…

You should already be able to do this by creating one set of figures as local figured bass.

Thanks, Florian, for the tip! I didn’t know that that was possible! I agree that it would be nice if figured bass responded to Alt+up/down arrows. I had tried that, but I hadn’t thought to try transposing through the menu.

Hmm… I must not understand what you mean, Daniel. I tried using Alt+Enter from the figured bass popover, but those figures don’t seem to appear anywhere that I can find, not even on the player’s layout. What I would like to do is fill in the figures above the alternative bassline in the attached file. Is that possible?
local-figures.dorico.zip (447 KB)

Please refer to the documentation on local figured bass in the Dorico 3.5 Version History PDF – see page 21.