# How to write a double sharp in a figured bass symbol

Here is an image of the exercise I am doing. I'm supposed to write the figured bass symbol underneath the chord label but I am not sure if this is right. I just put a double sharp next to the 3. Can someone correct me please?

• The question stands in the abstract, but unless I'm mistaken, you don't need it (or any figured bass) here because it's a major chord in root position. Figured bass only shows exceptions, altered notes, inversions. Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 15:29
• Wait, my bad, given the instructions "assuming a key signature with no sharps or flats," that might make it required. But at any rate you shouldn't need the "3" in the C#m. Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 15:30
• Can you post not just your quizes, but the instuctional part? What you wrote is logical, but a `D#` major chord in `C` major is odd. You would probably have a hard time finding a historical example. Knowing what the book instructed, and what is unclear to you, would make the whole post more helpful. Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 16:09
• Michael it is in the image on top
– user35708
Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 18:37
• @MichaelCurtis I'm pretty sure that's those chords are not intended to be read as a continuous passage... It's a figure bass exercise Commented Oct 23, 2021 at 12:43

You can write it exactly as you've done it! Double accidentals in figured bass are rare, but they do happen; see Can we use double accidentals in figured bass?

Another option would be to replace the "x3" with just a doublesharp. Since a lone accidental applies to the pitch a third above the bass, just putting a doublesharp by default applies to the F above the bass D♯ (just as the first sample only has a ♭ on the A♭ chord to indicate lowering the third above the bass C).

• Thank you. what about the #5? That is incorrect because I am in effect saying that the 5th will be augmented when it should be a perfect 5th so that should just say 5 or I could leave it out completely?
– user35708
Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 19:08
• @armani In my experience, that should be clarified as #5, exactly as you've done it. In my experience, there's no reason to assume a major chord above this D-sharp; all accidentals should be clarified. Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 19:23
• By saying #5 wont that be an augmented 5th above D#?
– user35708
Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 20:04
• @armani Not in my experience, no. Figured bass is agnostic to the bass pitch; an accidental on the bass pitch doesn't affect any upper voices, unless those upper voices are specifically altered by the figures themselves. Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 20:06
• Oh ok so had I not added the # in front of the 5 the player would assume a natural A which would give a diminished 5th.
– user35708
Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 8:12

D#FxA# is the triad of D# in rootposition (neither the 3rd augmentation has to be indicated nor the double sharp of the 5th needs an asignment. This means if there stands a D# as a root note the other intervals (3rd and 5th) will be played as Fx and A#, referring to their function as major 3rd and perfect 5th.

(2. chord: In my opinion C#m implies a G# as a perfect fifth and needs not a sharp in the figured notation, it would need a "natural sign" if it wouldn't be sharpened, like the 3rd would need a # if it was a C#-Major-chord.)

Looking at the next chord EbBG: Eb as a root note of Eb major would imply a Bb, but as we have a B (augmented 5th) we'll have to set here a natural sign.

• I was thinking the same thing: if an unfigured `D#` you would expect to play a root position, major triad. Historically, this would be an odd case, probably hard to find an example, `D#` major triad in `C` major. I though, if one were found it might have just a plain `5/3` figure. I'd like to read what the book instructs. Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 16:13
• This kind of thinking is what lead to my initial mistaken comment, but I'm pretty sure* the rule is not "Everything is a root-position major chord unless otherwise indicated," but "everything follows the key signature unless indicated." After all, if you were in C and had a V/V of an EM chord, you'd need the # to distinguish it from the expected Em. *Disclaimer, I'm neither a theory major nor a baroque continuo player, so I'm not 100% positive either about usage for theory analysis or for baroque notation (which, no, wouldn't be likely to have a D#M in any key, let alone C). Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 16:54
• Their function need not be major third though. It could be a D#m chord right? So the figures would have to specify if it was a major or minor chord against a key signature with not sharps or flats.
– user35708
Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 17:52
• I bow my head in front of Andy and armani. I‘m neither a specialist in baroque figured bass notation and I agree that D# could also be the root note of D#m (e.g. iii of B). Now to as secondary dominant it would be V of G# and needs a double sharp, which must be assigned in the fig. bass notation. Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 18:12
• (Also, lol, I don't know what I was thinking about when I suggested that the secondary dominant in C major was E! Same logic, then, but with, ahem, D.) Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 18:24