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Victoria Williams

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A9. Figured Bass Rules Exercises

Grade 6 Harmony A9: Figured Bass Rules Exercises

Move your mouse slowly over the text or staves to reveal the answers (tap on mobile devices)


Exercise 1: Defining the Rules of Figured Bass

Choose the correct response(s) to complete the following sentences.

  1. "Voice leading" refers to the way notes are put together vertically to make chords/horizontally to make melodies
  2. In the soprano, the part should move mostly by an interval of a 2nd/4th/6th.
  3. In the soprano, repeated notes should be avoided/used frequently.
  4. In the soprano, the part should move in similar/contrary motion with the bass.
  5. In the alto and tenor, the part should move freqeuntly by unison/3rd/5th.
  6. Augmented melodic intervals are encouraged/best avoided.
  7. If, for example, the alto part rises higher than the soprano part, this is called oblique motion/crossing parts and it is allowed/not allowed.
  8. Whenever possible, the leading note should be followed by the tonic/dominant/supertonic.
  9. Consecutive 5ths occur when two parts are a perfect/augmented/diminished 5th apart and are then followed by another 5th using the same/different pitches.
  10. Apart from consecutive 5ths, consecutives are also forbidden with perfect 4ths/perfect octaves/major thirds.
  11. The interval between the soprano and alto parts should never be more than a 6th/7th/octave.
  12. In a major 5-3 chord, the best note to double is normally the root/3rd/5th of the triad.
  13. In a diminished 6-3 chord, the only note you can double is the root/3rd/5th of the triad.
  14. In a 6-4 chord, the only note you can double is the root/3rd/5th of the triad.
  15. In almost all cases, the most unsatisfactory note of the triad to double is the root/3rd/5th.
  16. The mediant/subdominant/leading note should never be doubled.
  17. The only note of the triad that can be omitted from a chord is the root/3rd/5th.
  18. The only note of the triad that can be tripled in a chord is the root/3rd/5th.


 Exercise 2: Spot the Errors

In each of the following bars, a rule of figured bass has been broken (not a guideline). Identify one error in each bar (do not count a repeated soprano note as an error). In the answers, the letters S, A, T and B refer to the Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass notes respectively.

 rules-figured-bass-1 0 0rules-figured-bass-1 0 1rules-figured-bass-1 0 2rules-figured-bass-1 0 3rules-figured-bass-1 0 4

rules-figured-bass-2 0 0rules-figured-bass-2 0 1rules-figured-bass-2 0 2rules-figured-bass-2 0 3rules-figured-bass-2 0 4



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