Basso Continuo

Pronunciation: BAHS-soe kone-TIN-noo-oe

What is Basso Continuo?

Basso Continuo is a form of musical accompaniment that was popular in the Baroque period. Basso Continuo is also called thorough-bass or figured bass by western musicians. The word means “continuous bass” in Italian, and simply means an improvised accompaniment played on the bass line, with harmonies on top of it.

Key Takeaways

  1. Basso Continuo is a staple in Baroque music wherein it held the musical performance together.
  2. It typically consists of a chord instrument to play the harmony, and a bass instrument to play the bass line or rhythm.
  3. Basso Continuo is an accompaniment designed as an improvisation of the original musical piece, which is similar to jazz improvisation.

Understanding Basso Continuo

The term can also be used to call the actual instruments being used in a Basso Continuo performance. These instruments are typically a chord instrument that plays the harmonies, and a low-pitched instrument to play the bass line, such as a cello, double bass, tuba, or saxophone.

Related Terms

Bass  Bass is described as the lowest part of a musical scale. more

Chromatic A chromatic scale is a 12-pitch scale, each being a semi note or half-step, which are above or below the last note. more

Arpeggio Arpeggio is a musical theory also known as a broken chord. more

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