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Section 16.2 Figured Bass Inversion Symbols

Following are the figured bass inversion symbols most commonly used for triads and seventh chords. (Remember that figured bass numbers represent intervals above the bass note within the key signature.)

Figure 16.2.1 Figured Bass Inversion Symbols for Triads
6 6
4
Root is the
bass note
3rd of the triad
is the bass note
5th of the triad
is the bass note
Table 16.2.2 Figured Bass Inversion Symbols for Triads
Figure 16.2.3 Figured Bass Inversion Symbols for Seventh Chords
7 Root of the 7th chord
is the bass note
6
5
3rd of the 7th chord
is the bass note
4
3
5th of the 7th chord
is the bass note
4
2
7th of the 7th chord
is the bass note
Table 16.2.4 Figured Bass Inversion Symbols for Triads
7 6
5
4
3
4
2
Root of the 7th chord
is the bass note
3rd of the 7th chord
is the bass note
5th of the 7th chord
is the bass note
7th of the 7th chord
is the bass note
Table 16.2.5 Figured Bass Inversion Symbols for 7th Chords

Unlike original figured bass notation in the Baroque era, in music theory courses, figured bass inversion symbols are placed after Roman numerals.

Compare figured bass symbols to the modified slash notation we have been using in previous chapters.

Figure 16.2.6 Roman Numerals with Figured Bass versus Roman Numerals with Modifed Slash Notation

Because the figures \(\left.\text{}^{6}_{5}\right.\), \(\left.\text{}^{4}_{3}\right.\), and \(\left.\text{}^{4}_{2}\right.\) are only used for seventh chords, the “7” is omitted when labeling inverted seventh chords.

Figure 16.2.7 “7” is not included when 7th chords are inverted

Notice that it is essential with seventh chords to include symbols like “M” (for a major seventh chord) and \(\left.\text{}^{\circ}{}\right.\) and \(\left.\text{}^ø{}\right.\) before the figured bass numbers and after the Roman numeral.

Figure 16.2.8