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Continuo (basso continuo, thorough bass, figured bass)

Term for the bass line running throughout a composition, which was played by a group of instruments. These included a keyboard instrument (harpsichord or organ) as well as another bass instrument, e.g. a low stringed instrument (cello or double bass) or a low wind instrument (bassoon). The composer only notated the instrumental bass line and the appropriate numerals above or below it. These were used by the accompanist to improvise the chords or accompaniment according to certain rules.The continuo was characteristic of the music in the 17th and 18th centuries, which is why the period in art history known as the Baroque era is also referred to as the quot;Continuo periodquot; in music.

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