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Thread: What is this section exactly on this Music Theory 'Cheat Sheet'?

  1. #1
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    Default What is this section exactly on this Music Theory 'Cheat Sheet'?


    Take a look at this recently discovered 'Cheat Sheet' by Classic F.M. in the United Kingdom:

    I have read through it and understand some of it, but I can not work out what the diagram is telling me, or what part of the cheat sheet it is referring to.

    It is this part:

    Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 14.26.39.png

    Would someone mind explaining it to me.


  2. #2
    Senior Member Torkelburger's Avatar
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    Jan 2014
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    It is an aid for reading "figured bass". For example, you might use figured bass when harmonizing and writing chorales for SATB choir or for reading/playing the harpsichord/continuo parts in Baroque scores.

    In both cases, you will just have the bass note and the figured bass notation (the I with the 6,4 next to it for example) and will have to fill in the upper parts yourself. This cheat sheet shows you how to do that. A I6 in C Major is a C Major chord in first inversion, for example. A V2 in C Major is a dominant7 G chord in 3rd inversion, and so on and so forth...

    I hope this information helps.

    --If you don't know what the numbers mean beside the Roman Numerals, (I assume you know what the Roman Numerals mean, but if not let me know and I'll explain) they tell you the interval(s) present in the chord that is the distance from the lowest note (the bass note). Take the I64 for example, the figured bass would just show a G in the bass and a "I64" written below it. Therefore, you play/write the E a sixth above the G and the C above the G (6 and 4 respectively). Root position chords do not have numbers beside their Roman Numerals (it is understood to play it in root position).

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    I see it as a demonstration of chordal inversion. For those who have not yet learned figured bass, the numbers are associated with the various inversion of triads and seventh chords. They are sometimes even called "inversion numbers." A 6 indicates a first inversion triad, 6/5 indicates a first inversion seventh chord, etc.

    A full understanding of these numbers, however, does require an understanding of figured bass as suggested by Avatar. Be aware that some of the figures shown are
    abbreviated. "6" for example is short for "6/3." "4/2" is short for "6/4/2," etc.

    I suggest you get with a theory teacher to learn about figured bass. In the meantime you can just memorize and think of the numbers as "inversion numbers."

    There is one mistake in the diagram. The unfigured V should read V7. The pitfall of using a cheat sheet made by someone else is that you inherit their mistakes. Gain an independent understanding of the material and make your own cheat sheet

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