TonalityGUIDE - basic tonal music theory and analysis for undergraduates
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Some Examples of Figured Bass Embellishment
(to help with Stage III of Figured Bass Method))

Continuo parts are not usually highly embellished, but there should be rhythmic and motivic variation across each movement (which will usually reflect such changes in the solo part). The following examples show some possible embellishments of the upper line of a three-part keyboard texture.

You first need to decide on the underlying type of motion (basically stepwise or arpeggiated). You can then decorate the basic motion with a mixture of passing notes, neighbour notes, and anticipations. There are an unlimited number of combinations and rhythmic variations - these examples are just to get you thinking along the right lines.

The basic motion in the top line of the following example is stepwise (a). This might be decorated with a leap followed by an accented passing note as in (b), or by neighbour notes (c):

The basic motion in the next example is an arpeggio (a). The simplest decoration of this is a simple quaver passing note (b), or alternatively it might be decorated with a more elaborate mixture of neighbour and passing notes (c):

In this final example, the two upper voices are turned into a semiquaver broken-chord figuration (b):

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