Figured bass spacing issue

Well, the NBA is only relevant if you play Bach from the NBA editions. Other composers (and editions) are available :slight_smile:

FWIW some of Barenreiter’s other typographical designs (e.g. the editorial dynamics in the NMA) are just unspeakably ugly IMO.

What? Other composers? Where?!

I’m not saying the NBA is more “relevant” than anything else (although in my experience it is by far the most used Bach edition in Germany now). Only that I very much value its overall engraving quality.

FWIW some of Barenreiter’s other typographical designs (e.g. the editorial dynamics in the NMA) are just unspeakably ugly IMO.

Yes indeed. It’s quite sad.

Oh, so Bach’s music isn’t so important when designing a figured bass font?? :laughing: Of course there are other composers…

Actually, I was quite surprised that the Dorico team didn’t take a look into the Neue Bach Ausgabe as Johann Sebastian Bach is the most famous composer of the baroque era and the NBA editions became the gold-standard for generations and even today it’s the most widely used critical edition of Bach’s music. The only possible alternative could be Carus Verlag (for vocal music) but for this discussion that’s not relevant as it has a quite poor computer engraved style.

We can say of course that Dorico’s figured bass shouldn’t mimic the appearance of the NBA, but when creating such a specialist font as the figured bass, it would have been logical to look for the highest quality examples for inspiration - as Florian has done -, for it’s safe to say that the NBA’s figured bass font is the most sophisticated (and easy-to-read!) ever created up to now and I can assure that among continuo players, nobody would go for the smaller accidentals…

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Contemporary publishers had the right idea: make the figures BIG. Putting them in nice need lines wasn’t so important.
VIvaldi FB.jpg

Rob, what a beautiful(!)—and interesting—example.

I don’t play continuo (I’m abysmal, sadly) however the method book I trained on did not have nestled accidentals. It was very akin to Dorico’s new defaults. I don’t have any skin in this game and I see the merits of both approaches; but I thought I’d share just the same. To my own eye, I actually prefer the better-regulated manner of Dorico’s approach. It “normalizes” the figures to a certain extent, which makes them easier to parse out. (Again, this just the personal opinion of someone who doesn’t actively attempt to play this music anymore, so make of that what you will.)

In the meantime, I’ve searched for similar places in other editions and found the following examples.

So if the famous complete editions of Bach, Handel & Mozart are not relevant, then what is?



Yes, but they’re very easy to read btw, I’ve played a lot from original prints like that. However, they’re not compatible with modern practices of music engraving, that’s why I’ve referred to the beautifully engraved scholarly critical complete editions of the 20th century.

If modern practices of music engraving don’t care about legibility, I’m quite happy to file them in the rubbish bin, and carry on reading the original parts. Compare a bit of a MS copy of the Bach Matthew passion with the NBA version. One is legible, the other isn’t.


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For me, both are well balanced and easy-to-read. The note spacing in the NBA is uneven of course, since it’s a full score and there are smaller note values in the upper parts. As a harpsichordist I’ve played from many different editions and I found the NBA to be the most beautifully engraved.

Another thing is that original parts in many cases cannot be used for modern performances (like in your example, where the original organ part was transposed down a major 2nd because of the organ’s higher pitch) and anyway, manuscripts has nothing to do with the subject we are discussing now and the problem has to be solved according to modern standards.

Funny you should say this — I somehow feel the opposite. I never mix up a sharp and a flat, but I often find when reading from poorly engraved or copied editions that it is easy to confuse a 6 for a 5. (I am also a harpsichordist.) Either way, clearly printed, large figures and accidentals are important!

Yes, sharps and flats can be distinguished of course, but sharps and naturals can be mixed up easily, especially if the “stems” of the natural are quite short.

Btw, in the meantime, I’ve examined many different editions I found at home and the accidentals were considerably bigger than the figures in all of them, no matter how the engraver achieved to avoid collisions. Simply reducing their size is just not the professional way of doing this, I’m afraid.

How large do you want the numbers?

Slice 1.png
(It’s a Font Style.)

Please see the previous examples. The problem occurs when two or three accidentals are stacked in a column.

Augustin’s request is a reasonable one, so let’s try to keep things constructive here, please.

Augustin, we’re looking into this and will see whether it is possible to introduce some further options for the kerning of figured bass in the future.

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Thank you, Daniel, I’m sure it will be amazing!

Just as a point of information, my Windows 10 1909 machine with Dorico 3.1.10 installed and then Dorico 3.5 installed as well has Bravura 1.310 and Bravura Text 1.310.

I guess the quick fix is to install the .otf files from https://github.com/steinbergmedia/bravura/tree/bravura-1.370/redist/otf . It certainly looks like something may be wrong with the Windows 10 installer for Dorico 3.5, at least if an earlier version of Dorico is left installed.

Dorico 3.5 does not replace Dorico 3.1; it is not supposed to. In the same way, Dorico 2 did not replace Dorico 1. Since Dorico 3.5 could just as well have been Dorico 4, it follows the same pattern.

If that was aimed at me, I know that. My point was that the Dorico 3.5 installer should have updated the Bravura and Bravura Text fonts, possibly also other fonts, and it has not done so at least on my machine. Perhaps this is because I deliberately did not remove Dorico 3.1.10 first, which presumably would have removed the fonts.

The issue might be as simple as not forcing an upgrade if the fonts were already installed. Perhaps it is a Windows only issue - maybe it only happens in certain circumstances.


I’m just giving a single data point that, on my Windows machine, following the recommended strategy of leaving Dorico 3 installed so that you have it available whilst moving over to 3.5 meant the fonts were not upgraded when they should have been.

In general, the Dorico 3.5 installer absolutely does replace earlier versions of Bravura and Bravura Text, but font management on Windows is a mysterious dark art, and it’s always possible for there to exist anomalous cases. And that would have nothing to do with whether or not Dorico 3.1 or any other earlier version remains installed or was uninstalled first, since the Bravura fonts are “permanent” and are not uninstalled when you uninstall Dorico in any case.

New fonts were definitely received by my computer when I upgraded to Dorico Pro 3.5. Since those dated as new appear to still reside in a temp folder, is there any way to see if they actually replaced the previously installed versions? Is it important that they do?