Music Theory - Figured Bass in 3 Hours - ABRSM Grades 6 & 7

Learn how figured bass works, realize a figured bass or create four-part harmony. Music theory exam-style questions.
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  • Lectures 28
  • Length 3.5 hours
  • Skill Level Intermediate Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 2/2015 English

Course Description

Become a Figured Bass Pro in 3 Hours (Music Theory)

This course explains in clear steps how figured bass works and more importantly how you can master it. We'll also take a quick peek why it exists in the first place!

  • Perfect for ABRSM Grade 6 and Grade 7 Music Theory Candidates
  • Step-by-step methods for acing figured bass exam-style questions
  • Learn how to realize a figured bass
  • Understand all chord inversions including 7th chords and suspensions
  • Learn how to create a figured bass line to fit a given melody

All the fundamentals of musical harmony are explained to you, and you'll get plenty of tips on best practice as well, so your harmony will sound great.

The course also covers specific exam questions which come up in the ABRSM music theory exams (grades 6 and 7), as well as in the UK A Level Music (technical study paper) and AP Music theory.

Each lesson contains real music examples and you get to watch me working through the exam questions in real time. I'll share with you the best way to think through the questions, which rules of harmony have to be obeyed and which are simply guidelines, and how to check through your work to maximize your success.

Each musical example is worked through as per the exam question rubric, but I then show you how that music could be further decorated in practice to produce beautiful music - all audio is included of course!

Figured bass doesn't have to be difficult. Why not take a look at the free preview lessons to get an idea of how a few rules can be transferred into writing the best possible harmony!

The music fundamentals of figured bass take a little time to learn, but once you have mastered the theory, putting it into practice is the fun part. Join me now and take your music theory to the next level!

Keywords: music theory, music fundamentals, figured bass

What are the requirements?

  • You'll need to now how to read music in the treble and bass clefs.
  • You'll need to understand scales, key signatures and intervals reasonably well.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Learn about the history of figured bass and why it exists
  • Have a clear understanding of the rules of harmony in music theory, and how they are applied in practice
  • See examples of figured basses that are realized in full
  • Learn how to "realize" (expand) a figured bass line into four-part harmony (Grade 6 ABRSM, A level Music Technical Study and AP Music Theory)
  • Learn how to create a bass line with figures to fit a given melody (Grade 6 ABRSM)
  • Learn how to create a figured bass from a given bass line and melody (Grade 7 ABRSM)
  • Learn the music fundamentals which apply to figured bass.

Who is the target audience?

  • This course is perfect for any music theory student who has already mastered the basics.
  • You should be currently at around grades 5-7 (ABRSM music grades) or an intermediate level in music theory.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Using Udemy and Connecting with Me
Promo Video - Is this Course for You?
How to use the Udemy Platform
How to Contact Me
Section 2: What is Figured Bass?

Find out when and why figured bass was invented, take a look at a Baroque score and see how the same kind of music is presented in the modern day. Learn the difference between keyboard style and SATB notation.

Download the PDF

This lesson revises intervals. We cover the difference between melodic and harmonic intervals, and explain what makes an interval major, minor, perfect, augmented or diminished.


In this lesson you'll revise the basics about triads, chords, their inversions and using the Roman numeral naming system. You can skip this lesson if you already know what chords are and how they are built.


This lesson is a quick revision of the four different types of triad.


In this lesson you'll learn what the numbers in figured bass refer to and the three most common chords used in harmony - the 5-3, 6-3 and 6-4 chords. You'll also learn how these figures are normally abbreviated in real life.


Learn how to deal with accidentals in figured bass, and the meaning of short horizontal lines.

5 questions

A quick quiz to test if you can remember the most important points covered in this section: the basics of intervals, chords and how figured bass works.

If you don't get all the quiz questions right, consider going back over the material to refresh your memory - it will be easier to understand the next section! Feel free to ask a question in the discussion tab if you are stuck.

Section 3: Realizing a Figured Bass

The figures in a figured bass don't tell you which voice part (soprano, alto or tenor) each chord note should be written in. You need to decide this for yourself, following the guidelines set out in this lesson.


To make a four-note chord from a three-note triad you need to double one of the triad's notes. Here are some rules and guidelines you'll need to follow to do this successfully.


In this lesson you'll learn about consecutive 5ths and octaves and how to avoid them. We'll also talk about the V-VI progression, which needs special consideration.


In this lesson you'll learn the most effective way to space out the notes of each chord. We'll also cover which notes of the triad you can omit, and when you should/shouldn't do that.


Learn what melodic decoration is and why it's used - we examine the passing note, auxiliary note and anticipation, and have a brief look at the suspension too. This lesson uses a real Bach chorale as an example to work with.


Information about the recommended text 371 Harmonized Chorales by Bach.

Realizing a Figured Bass Quiz
6 questions
5 pages
Section 4: Dissonance & Resolution

This lesson is just a brief explanation of who this section of the course will be useful for.


In this lesson we'll explore the dominant 7th and supertonic 7th chords, how they are notated in figured bass, and some discuss when they can (and can't!) be used.


Learn about the three stages which create a musical suspension, and the rules concerning where they can be used in harmony.

3 questions

Test your understanding of the topics covered in section 3 - added 7th chords and suspensions.

Section 5: Exam Style Questions

How to realize a figured bass part 1 - adding in the soprano line.


How to realize a figured bass part 2 - adding in the alto and tenor parts (filling out the harmony).


In this lesson we'll explain all the things you need to consider before writing out a figured bass line. This exam question type comes up in the ABRSM grade 6 exams - you are provided with a melody line and need to add a figured bass line.


In this lesson you'll learn step by step how to apply the method outlined in the previous lesson.


Learn how to add figures to a given bass line and melody. This question comes up in the ABRSM grade 7 music theory exams.

Section 6: Students Gallery
Realization of a given bass (from Part Writing Lecture)
Section 7: Getting more Help
Getting More Help
BONUS! Lots more music theory resources!

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Instructor Biography

Victoria Williams AmusTCL BA(Mus), Music Theory Specialist - Founder of My Music Theory

"This course was absolutely first rate in every way. Ms. Williams presented the material clearly, thoughtfully, and with an obvious love of teaching. The only way this could possibly have been any better is to have had the privilege of studying with her in person. I'm amazed by how much information I learned -- and in such an enjoyable way! Ms. Williams is someone who not only has a deep understanding of music theory, but a rare and wonderful creativity that makes her such an effective teacher of it. Bravo and thank you!"

Victoria graduated from the University of Leeds in 1995 with a BA Honours in Music, specialising in Musicology. She also holds the AmusTCL diploma in Music Theory, from Trinity College London, with distinction.

Since 2007, Victoria has been teaching music theory online and by email via her acclaimed website MyMusicTheory, offering free music theory tuition following the structured syllabus of the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music).

Victoria teaches all ABRSM levels, from grade 1 (beginner) up to grade 8/diploma (undergraduate level) and has an in depth knowledge of both the syllabus requirements and examiners' marking schemes. As well as teaching the ABRSM syllabus, Victoria is equally at home preparing students for the Trinity Guildhall exams, the Australian AMEB exams and the AP Music Theory exams taken in the USA.

Victoria's lessons break the tricky concepts of music and music theory down into easy-to-understand steps. She approaches teaching from the learner's point of view, building up on existing knowledge little by little, and avoids the “baffling with detail" stance taken by traditional music theory text books. She has an outstanding track-record with her students' exam successes, with the vast majority gaining top rated “merits and distinctions" from the ABRSM.

Victoria is an accomplished pianist and clarinettist, holding ABRSM grade 8 in both, and also composes in her free time. She has three children and two crazy cats.

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