[Smt-talk] French chord figuring

Michele Ignelzi m.ignelzi at tin.it
Sun Dec 19 21:31:28 PST 2010

Thanks very much, Nicolas, for the useful information.

On Dec 19, 2010, at 7:54 PM, Nicolas Meeùs wrote:

> This figuring certainly is in Catel, in 1801-1802. It originates in  
> 18th-century continuo figuring, where + is a possible form of #,

I had suspected it could have originated from +2 and +4 with the  
meaning of "augmented", and later extended to the other figures, like  
7/+, +6, +7, for the sake of generalization.

> Lowell Mason's American translation of Catel, of 1832, is available  
> at http://www.archive.org/details/atreatiseonharm00masogoog. I  
> don't      have my French copy of Catel at hand just now to make  
> exact comparisons but, if my memory of Catel is correct, Mason  
> makes a more restricted use of the +.

A typical phenomenon, I'd say. Translations are quite often  
transpositions into the translator's conceptual world. In Italian,  
Piston is made speak of "sevenths of third species" and Schoenberg  
reflects on "superdominants".

> It appears among others on p. 147, where the text explains that 7+  
> means a dominant above a tonic pedal, in which case indeed the 7th  
> of the tonic is the leading tone (and where Mason or Catel add in a  
> NB at the bottom of the page that 7/+ would denote a dominant 7th).
> But in other French texts, I met +7 denoting the (4th species,  
> major) seventh on degree I, where the 7th itself almost necessarily  
> is a descending, passing 7th. This really makes little sense.

I completely agree. Dubois duly reserves that figure for Catel's  
meaning of 7+.

Best regards,
Michele Ignelzi
m.ignelzi at tin.it
Florence State Conservatory, Italy

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