How do you write this figured bass?

How do you write these figured basses?

Thank you…

There is a nice video tutorial with those extension lines right in the thumbnail image.

Mark, as an exercise I tried to input with the help of that helpful video.
Still struggling. I am using the iPad version of Dorico.
I can only get a display like in bar 2, second half or like in bar 3, first half.
How can I get the extension line only draw for the 6 (and not for the bottom numbers), like in the example @times007 gives in the first post?

The controls for Duration of the line extensions don’t seem to work, what are the different + and - buttons supposed to do?

Trying to edit the figure:

I’ll also post my experimental file:
Test figured bass.dorico (469.7 KB)

Somehow I managed to fake the first two figures as a suspension 5->4, but can’t proceed. If I read the original figured bass numbers from the top example, it is just one chord with changing bottom/bass notes.

Just write what KB has suggested; 65 with extension line. If you are making a critical edition, adress it in the comments.

If it is important to have exactly what is in the source, I think you have to fake it in some way.

At best, you can only do two figures in one group, as a suspension.

So you could do 65_4 and 63_4.

You will need to set the minimum line length in Engraving Options > Figured Bass > Advanced Options to something short. You also have to set the duration line length to 5/8th of a beat.

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You can fake it fairly straightforwardly.

Here’s the file
times007 fake.dorico (1.1 MB)

There are various ways to go about this. I’ve done this sort of thing quite a bit, and the following is pretty efficient - much quicker than it looks from the description.

Only step 8 below is frustrating, but I’m used to this sort of fiddling with early music in Dorico. It helps that if you select the first group of eighth notes with the figures (marquee selection is useful) then it will copy.

Set Note Input Options > Figure Bass to “Follow input literally” and the Rhythm Grid to eighth note.

  1. In Write Mode select the Ab and press Shift-G to open the popover

  2. Input 65, right arrow, 4, right arrow, 3, right arrow, 4 (i.e. one to each eighth note)

  3. Go to Engrave Mode and select 4 3 4 (marquee selection?)

  4. Nudge downward to line up with the 5 of the 65 (Alt+down arrow)

  5. Select 65 and add the double hold line to the end of the last quaver (Shift+Alt+right arrow) [Edit: This step needs to be done in Write Mode. Back to Engrave Mode for the rest of the steps.]

  6. (Optional) Click the right hand handle on the 6 line and nudge right or left a little if it’s not quite in the right place (Alt+right or left arrow). I use a mouse to move the handles since I want to do this bit visually.

  7. Click the right hand handle on the 5 line and move left to overlap the left handle (i.e. so that the line disappears) using the mouse again, as in 6.

  8. When you’ve finished the project layout (i.e. just before publishing) then come back and adjust the 5 line again as it will probably have changed. You may need to adjust this in other parts that have figured bass enabled as well.

(I hope that I have all the steps right - let me know if not!)



Not to be outdone by @Chris_Davey 's excellent solution, I’ve updated my GoFigure font to include dashes above figures.

I’ll upload the revised version shortly.

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Thanks for your answer.
I am studying carefully the procedure you recommended and illustrated so well.
Thank You very much…

I realize that my way may seem inelegant, but I use the line tool. The reason is simple: although the figures and the line have to be moved vertically, the line can be adjusted in write mode and remains attached to the desired points (the grid can be set 32nd notes even). If one does the vertical moves while “Global” is set, they will appear at the right distances, no matter what layout differences may be present, including staff size.


Neat, Claude, and not inelegant to me! - and it may be just right for the OP.

In my current project (a polychoral piece with doubling instruments and Organ with figured bass) I don’t think it’ll work. I add the Organ part to each partbook for the singers/players to follow, without the figures showing. A line added with the line tool shows in the non-figured-bass parts, and unfortunately can’t be hidden that I can see.

Any thoughts? I’d love not to have to fiddle with hold lines in Engrave Mode at the end of the engraving process. I live in hope that a good solution will turn up.

Good to share ideas on the Forum!

It has been a long while since I have dealt with figured bass, but I am a little perplexed as to the meaning of the held 6 vs. the changing figures below, even as the bass moves.

Does the held 6 mean…

or does it mean (as I would expect)…

But if the second is the case, then what is the meaning of the lower figures? This looks rather like what the music asks for is…


I was about to write the same thing. As an experienced continuo player, these figures don’t make sense to me. The chord is obviously held, hence the line after the 6, so why the changing figures after the 5, which simply mean that the same note in the realisation is held? I can understand either mode of notation but not both at the same time.

Oh, yes: thinking about the actual music, rather than Dorico’s input method, you might as well just write:

Alternatively, perhaps what is intended is: “hold the E flat and play 6ths above each note”, which is kind of reverse of what’s written; but Dorico can do that easily enough:


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Yeah it’s funny. Not once did I think about the music there, Lol!


I did forget to write that you can hide lines in parts when Dorico is in "Local’ editing mode and making them transparent using the colour settings in the properties panel (Alpha channel to 0).

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I’d be interested to know what the context is of that fragment of music. Perhaps the OP could provide a link to the MS if it’s available online.

My guess is, it is something early classical.
I would wish (FeatureRequest), that Dorico would extend it’s Input Literally possibilities to also cover these “special” cases.

Yes. And I would like to be able to force the order of the stack of figures too, to conform with many instructional texts (eg 385 instead of 853)

You mean a kind of “Don’t interpret this, just write the numbers”…? :grinning:

You can already do this, by ‘simplifying’ numbers greater than 8.