So, I recently saw a practice problem that said "analysis". It was in FM, 4/4 time. In the bass clef were the notes F, D, A, Bb, and then two half notes; C and F. Respectively, they had the numbers 1,6,6,7,7, and 4-3 underneath them. What am I supposed to do? I think I have to fill in the empty treble clef. Thank you!
The numbers are called "figures" and they specify the intervals that should appear above the lowest notes.
Figures themselves comprise a sort of musical language, and the notations are not always consistent from one composer or theorist to another. However, there are some basic conventions that are fairly reliable.
- Chord quality is not considered. Figures stay within the key signature.
- Root position triads do not receive a figure. (5/3 is assumed.)
- First inversion triads just specify the sixth above the root. (The third is assumed.)
- Second inversion triads given both intervals, the sixth and the fourth.
- Seventh chords, from root position to third inversion are given as 7 (short for 7/5/3); 6/5 (short for 6/5/3); 6/4/3 (sometimes just 4/3); and 6/4/2 (sometimes just 4/2 or 2).
- Alterations to the key signature vary. For example, in a key signature with flats, a raised third might appear as ♯3, ♮3, or 3 with a slash through it.
- A moving part, such as in a suspension and resolution, is specified according to the intervals above the bass. For example 4-3 above a stationary bass.
Some related questions that might be of interest: