Table of Contents
Section 6: Bibliography
roman numeral and figured bass 2
When studying advanced harmony and chromaticism, it becomes necessary to expand the language of Roman numeral analysis. The practice of using Roman numerals to track the harmony can accommodate non-diatonic chords tones using the following conventions:
a. a flat or sharp in front of a figure lowers or raises the diatonic pitch by a half step.
b. a slash through the figure raises the pitch, just like a sharp.
c. the quality of the Roman numeral indicates the quality of the chord, just like in diatonic analysis.
d. a sharp or flat before the Roman numeral raises or lowers the root of that chord.
e. borrowed chords or other non-diatonic chords do not always need accidentals attached to the figures. For example, a minor tonic triad in a major key will simply be labeled "i." The flat third is included in the case of the Roman numeral. Another example: the major triad on the third scale degree (E major triad in C major) is simply labeled "III."
f. One must remember that figured bass was a notational convention used separately from Roman numerals. If one is using figured bass separately from the numerals, the accidentals always must be included. For example, the minor tonic triad in a major key, labeled "i" with a Roman numeral, would be marked with a flat sign in figured bass, the flat sign referring to lowered third in the triad.
Study the example below for usage of these conventions:
Notes on the example:
a. Notice that the secondary dominants do not require accidentals. The case of the numeral accounts for the altered diatonic pitches.
b. The flat on the 6 on the downbeat of the second measure is not absolutely necessary, since the numeral accounts for the quality of the chord. Nonetheless, it has been included as a courtesy.
c. An important convention is treated with the II #6/4 chord. Notice that there is no sharp in the actual chord. The sharp symbol in the figure means "raised," not necessarily "sharp." The distinction lies in theory, not notation. Roman numerals are generic, meaning that they are not key specific. The Roman numeral scheme in the example could be realized in any key. Therefore, use the sharp symbol or flat symbol rather than a natural symbol in the figures. This is good practice.
Copyright ©2000 Music Theory Resources. All rights reserved.