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Unfigured bass is a technique of performance of historical music where the performer has a bass line but none of the guidance of a figured bass. Various rules of thumb are used to guess and anticipate the harmony with considerable success for many genres of music. Essentially the music, without the full specification of the figured bass, approaches harmonic perfection by listening and repetition. In the early baroque period published parts were as likely to be unfigured as figured leading to interesting clashes of harmony on a first reading.
(A note of warning: it is not always understood that some parts in the bass clef are not functionally a bass part; they may be a tenor part. Attempting to use a tenor part as an unfigured bass will result in continual clashes of harmony.)
- Chords that the (major) Scale Degrees (in the bass) Can Imply by Robert Kelley