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I've been thumbing though Modulation by Max Reger and while he explains most of his notation, there is one thing about the figured bass in his Roman Numeral analysis that bothers me. For example, in the passage below when in the key of D# major, he puts a double sharp next to the V and I chord even though the double sharp would be in the key.

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I'm really curious if this noation is standard and if it is not what the alternative way to represent the passage is.

  • He seems to be using the figures very much as if they were placed over the bass, eh? – user16935 Dec 28 '16 at 23:24
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    The extra sharp is probably just there to remind you, because no one writes music in D# – SaggingRufus Dec 29 '16 at 12:18
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    @NeilMeyer there definitely is and one of the only places you'll see it is in Modulation. – Dom Dec 29 '16 at 13:36
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    @SaggingRufus, knowing Max, he probably did write in D♯ at some point or another. D♯ & A♯ can make sense if the next stop in the journey is something like B, F♯ or C♯. – user16935 Dec 29 '16 at 16:51
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    @SaggingRufus, about a year ago, I wrote a piece in D♯ minor. Does that count? It has still got double sharps... (It actually started in E♭ minor, but, given where it was going, it made sense to use the sharp key.) – user16935 Dec 29 '16 at 17:40
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If you look at his Example 1 (C major to G major), you'll see that he doesn't include the F♯ in the figures because it's assumed in G major. The same is true in Example 2, the F♯ and C♯ are assumed in D major, so there's no need to put them in the figures.

When he gets to Example 6, though, he needs to throw in those accidentals on the Neapolitan sixth, because, since he's resolving to F♯ major, he needs to clarify B♮ and D♮. (You've already addressed these two issues in your original question, I'm just setting the stage.)

The double-sharp first appears in Example 8, and the only possible explanation is that it's a courtesy accidental. Looking through the book, he always uses a courtesy accidental whenever there is a double-sharp; the example in your question is just one of many.

I've been looking for a citation to prove my answer, or maybe scores of his where he also follows this rule, but I've been unable to find one. But looking throughout the book, it must be that Reger only uses double-sharps as courtesy accidentals in the figures.

  • This makes perfect sense. And why not? Even knowing the theory full well, it would be easy to forget an "implied" double sharp for the simple fact that we so rarely see them. But, like all courtesy accidentals, it'd be better if they were in brackets. – Some_Guy Apr 12 '17 at 13:34

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