What does a prime symbol after a bass figure mean? For example 6' or 6 4' 2?

Example of figured bass with 6 and 6' notation from BWV 1035

I came across this in a 1956 edition of J.S. Bach's BWV 1035, by Otto Heinrich Noetzel. Looking at the written right hand, it seems to raise the particular note by a half-step. Is that what's actually going on, or is it something more subtle?

  • 3
    Is that mark found throughout the edition? Commented Oct 15, 2020 at 19:00
  • Yes. It's not common, but there's one every few lines. Other figures are marked with following ♭ (flat) and ♮ (natural) signs, and sharp and flat thirds are written as bare signs with no number. I don't see anything like 6♯. Commented Oct 15, 2020 at 22:26

2 Answers 2


It indicates a chromatically raised sixth above the bass. Here are examples of the same measure from other editions, both of which use the more common (in my experience) slash through the figure. (Note that both are in E major rather that F major as in the OP.)


BWV 1035 Mvmt 2 M. 71 - Waldersee edition


BWV 1035 Mvmt 2 M. 71 - Schmitz edition

Both editions can be found on IMSLP.

  • Ok. That it's a variant on slashed figures makes some sense. Thanks! Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 16:07

I didn't find anything about that mark. I even checked Arnold's treatise (basically, thoroughly). Ignoring the mark still leaves a normal progression (C7 to F to B° following a cycle of fifths.) Obvious interpretations are, misprint, part of the next symbol, editorial interpolation,.... As mentioned in a comment, it would be good to see if this symbol is used again; if so, that may give some indication of use. I'll see if I can find the book it's to check things out.

I found the corresponding measures in an E major version (IMSLP). It's marked with a slash through the 6 on the fourth beat so I'd guess your idea that it signals to raise the note. I've seen slashes and sharp signs but not the vertical bar. (Could be a publishing house thing or editorial thing.) As it appears throughout the score, it's clearly intentional.

  • Thanks for checking Arnold. I guess it's not standard, then. Definitely looks intentional. Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 15:49

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