# Figured bass and ties

How does one play figured bass when the bass line contains ties?

For example, here are the first three measures of Vivaldi's "Filiae maestae Jerusalem" (sheet music source).

Do I understand correctly that in measure 1, since there are no numbers to indicate an inversion, one has to play a chord consisting of C, Es and G?

Does one play only F and As in measure 2 (while still holding down the C key)? Or does one release and press again the C key in addition to F and As in measure 2? (In which case - why is there a tie between those two C-s?)

In the first half of measure 3, does one press no new keys and just continue holding C, F and As? Continue holding only C? Continue holding C, release F and As and play Es and G again?

Your first guesses are correct: you hold the C in the bass between measure 1 and 2, and from measure 2 to measure 3, the C in the bass is held over, and the chord remains the same, C, F, Ab. Btw- "Es" in English is "Eb".

• Thank you! Do you know some good internet source for learning about those kinds of details about figured bass? I looked around in Wikipedia but it just gave a very general overview without many details. Jun 20, 2019 at 10:49
• Sorry, I'm no expert as to what's available online. Perhaps someone else here can make a suggestion. Jun 21, 2019 at 8:45

The tie is irrelevant to understanding the notation. If you have a figure part way through the duration of a long note, you play the new chord but you don't repeat the bass note.

That is very a common notation - for example 64 53 figures over the dominant at a cadence.

The only reason for the tie is that modern notation conventions don't have any other notation for a note that extends beyond a bar line. Up to the end of the 18th century, there was such a convention in some situations, so the OP's question wouldn't exist at all.