Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. See continuo.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A musical notation in which intervals, chords and harmonizations are indicated by numbers written below a given bass note.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. See Continued bass, under Continued.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a bass part written out in full and accompanied by numbers to indicate the chords to be played

Etymologies

From the numerals written underneath the notes.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • While choirmaster in Mantua and in Venice, this master published his "Cento concerti ecclesiastici", compositions to sacred texts, for one or more voices and basso continuo, or figured bass played on the organ and supplemented by violins, bass viols, and wind instruments, a species of composition in vogue before his time.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 10: Mass Music-Newman

  • As for Prince Lobkowitz, his pauses with me still continue, and I fear he will never again come in at the right place; and in Prague (good heavens! with regard to Prince Kinsky's affair) they scarcely as yet know what a figured bass is, for they sing in slow, long-drawn choral notes; some of these sustained through sixteen bars | = = = = = = |.

    Beethoven's Letters 1790-1826, Vol. 1 of 2

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