Figured bass should support placement property

• Jun 14, 2019 - 20:19
Reported version
S5 - Suggestion

The attached file shows figured bass notation in a continuo part. The first eight instances have been moved above the stave by hand one at a time. From the Format > Style > Figured bass menu the options Size: 9.0 pt, Vertical position -5.00sp, Line height: 100%, Alignment: Top, Style: Historic have been chosen. The figures stay below the stave. The "Vertical position" setting was changed from -5 to -4 to +2 to +4, and the figures did not move.

Attachment Size
.Concerto, Prinz Johann Ernest.mscz, 20.34 KB


Title Figured bass location top / bottom does not change. Figured bass location top / bottom should have placement property
Severity S4 - Minor S5 - Suggestion
Type Graphical (UI) Functional
Workaround No Yes

You've attached your backup file (starts with period, ends with comma) rather than your actual score, so I'm not necessarily seeing what you were seeing (there are only three figured bass elements in the score you attached, and they do not seem to have been moved at all). And if I move one manually, it works fine, and this stays correct if I save & reload.

However, I think I can guess what you are talking about - there is no obvious way to set the default position of figured bass to be above the staff. That's because unlike other text elements, figured bass has no "placement" (above/below) setting but only the single "offset" setting. So we should definitely considering adding placement.

Meanwhile the workaround is to set the offset where you want it using the style setting, but then use the Inspector to set the default "Minimum distance" to be -999 (ie, set one to -999, then hit "Set as style". This tells autoplace it's OK to cross the staff.

These comments have been screenshot and attached as a PNG file in case the formatting is upset in posting to the Forum.

Actual score now attached. The Format > Style > Figured Bass window does include an option for Alignment Top or Bottom, and that is the option that I had intended to write about. It doesn't work, basically.

Also, on a separate issue, the figures 6 5 on the same note are rendered by MuseScore as 65
4 # 4#

The "4#" is rendered in the centre of the second line of the text area.

However, in performance 6 5 sounds 6 followed by 5 on the same note.
4 # 4 #

rather than 6 to 5
4# 4#


If you wanted the performer to play 6 5 you'd have to write it, or 6 5 or perhaps 6 5
4# 4# 4#__ 4#

MuseScore will not allow the 6 5 nor the 4 # to have a gap between, nor to left-justify the 4#.

That's not 65 over 4#, that's a 6 (over) 4 figure followed by as much time-interval as necessary by a 5 (over) 3, i.e., the resolution of a 6-4 chord in the expected way. Enter the 6 (over) 4 figure, when still "in it" type ctrl-3 (16th note) or ctrl 4 (eighth note) or whatever you need, then enter the 5 (over) #.

"Alignment" and "Placement" are two totally different things. Placement is just a set above or below the staff - see for instance Format / Style / Staff Text, where you can control whether staff text appears above or below the staff by default, and then separately, how far above and below. "Alignment" is about fine-tining the position from there - once it is decided whether to place something above or below the staff, and then how far, alignment controls whether it's the top of the text or the bottom of the text that is aligned to that point.

Figured bass is pretty much universally placed below the staff, which is one reason there is not currently a placement setting for figured bass. Do you have some special reason to want to place it above?

Regarding the inability to create blank lines, that's a bug, already reported as #289431: [Regression] Ctrl+space does not leave empty line in Figured Bass

Mea culpa. The instructions have been read. However, some aspects don't appear to work in the score that I have created.

The score reflects original parts from 1714 : I wanted to go for Urtext. Where a continuo part is written on one stave, the figures often appear above the stave, especially in handwritten parts. Easier to read the figures when they are above the stave. Some printed publications go above (Bach Riemenschneider, "371 Harmonized Chorales"; R. O. Morris's "Figured harmony at the keyboard", e.g.). Further, where the bass has been realized there is often no room for figures above, and it is necessary to put them below.

OK, good to know there are common reasons to want figures above the staff. So the placement property is definitely something we should consider supporting.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi, Please add this. I am a continuo player and figures were routinely written above the bass line in 17th and 18th centuries. Makes sense as the harmony is above the bass line, and the eye of the continuo player is often also reading part(s) above this bass as well (when in score). in general, figures occur in historical prints below the bassline only when there is no room for them to go above the bassline.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

It would be very nice to be able set the figured bass position above the system as in scores of the time. From the instructions you give I only manage to set the position one by one or selecting them one by one with Cmd+click
Any chance this might be addressed in the near future?

You can select them all at once easily with right-click (Ctrl+click or two finger tap) followed by select / All Similar Elements. But as I described above, you really only need to do it for one, then use the set as style (“S” icon) button. Then all figured bass past and future for that score will rake those settings as default.

Thank you! It was still not fully clear to me so I made this description:
- Cmd+G (ore MENU text>figured bass)
- in Inspector change minimum distance to -999
- hit the S button to the right of it (be sure to see the whole inspector)
- go to menu: format>style>figured bass and change vertical position to -4 or even less to move the figures above the bass staff as in old scores
- now all figures should move and new figures should appear in the same position
see also screen dump

In reply to by SRH

SRH's comment was very helpful. I was confused because the workaround mentions updating the figured bass style's "Offset" to move the figured bass above the staff. But in the version I'm using, 3.4.2, there is no "Offset" in the figured bass style, only a "Vertical position" setting. But it's functionally an offset and changing it to -4 or so did the trick. Thank you.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

If you are reading a lot of 17th century French barouqe, e.g., Forqueray, Dandrieux, etc., continuo figures are always above the baseline. If you creating practice exercises for this, it is jarring to have to switch back and forth. I'm not sure why you would say that figured bass is "pretty muhc universally" placed below the staff. It's just not true.

Hi, you are absolutely right! Nevertheless: Neue Bach Ausgabe (Bärenreiter) above, Complete Mozart (Bärenreiter): below, Bach Ausgabe (the old one, BA): below. And many more examples of below (Schütz, Handel etc) or above...
In Dorico you can switch super easy.