Figured bass and XML conversion issues

• Oct 21, 2021 - 15:01

I run into trouble when i export my scores with figured bass as xml files. When I import the xml file in another application (in this case Finale), the file is rendered incorrectly. Several figures are for some reason ignored. Even when I open the xml file in MuseScore itself it is incorrect. I wondered if this could have something to do with the other software not being able to interpret the font correctly, but to my disappointment, I found no other figured bass font is available in MuseScore. Instead, I tried entering the figures as plain text, which seems to work. However, in doing so I run into another problem: how do I type accidentals? I could type sharps as '#', although it looks rather terrible, and flats could be 'b', but what about a natural? Any suggestions? I have tried exporting both as compressed and uncompressed xml, but with no luck. I attach the original MuseScore file and the xml file.

Attachment Size
Generalbas_övning 7-12.mscz 13.97 KB
Generalbas_övning 7-12.xml 31.73 KB


Figured bass is, unfortunately, something MusicXML just doesn't handle very well. It has nothing to do with the font - that's not actually relevant to MusicXML, which instead tries to capture the "meaning" of things. MusicXML just doesn't have very complete support for for all the different things that might be represented in figured bass, so it's difficult to get two programs to agree on how exactly a file should be imported or exported.

MuseScore 3.6.2 itself seems to export the figures OK, but on import treats them as lyrics. I believe this is already being addressed for a future release.

To type accidentals, use Ctrl+Shift (with # for shape, b for flat, h for accidental). But, another possibility is to install and use the amazing open source Figurato font, which does a fantastic job of rendering figured bass that is entered as ordinary text (see for instance Or you if they figures are simple enough, you might be able to get away with the Campania font built in to MuseScore - intended for Roman numeral analysis, but works OK for simple figures as well.

BTW, compressed vs uncompressed for MusicXML has no effect on anything except file size.

In reply to by eliasnoreland

I guess maybe you are using lyrics? I'd probably have chosen staff text, in which case it would be easier to enter multiple figures on a single note (and Alt+Right functions like Space in lyrics, to move to the next note). But, better still might be to enter some invisible rests in another voice and use those to attach your mid-note figure changes to.

@eliasnoreland, could you also attach the MuseScore file with figured bass ? The attached MuseScore file does not contain figured bass but lyrics.

The attached MusicXML file does contain two errors (the "8 5 3" and the following "7" figure incorrectly have duration 0) that I would like to investigate, but obviously that error does not reproduce with the attached MuseScore file.

Note that MuseScore currently does not export font information for figures to MusicXML.

In reply to by Leon Vinken

@leonvinken, Sure, here it is. Thanks for letting me know about MS not exporting font information for figures, I wasn't aware of that. That is indeed a problem, but I still think I'll stick with typing the figures, since figured bass doesn't work very well with MusicXML, as Marc Sabatella pointed out previously. Maybe font information for figures could be implemented in a future MS version?

@eliasnoreland, could you explain the following two remarks made in your initial post, as I don't understand:

Several figures are for some reason ignored.
Even when I open the xml file in MuseScore itself it is incorrect.

When importing the MusicXML file with figures into MuseScore 3.6.2, I cannot find any missing figures. Also, apart from the incorrect position of the "7" figure in measure 10 caused by the incorrect duration value, all observed differences between the MuseScore version (with lyrics) and the MusicXML version (with figures) are simply expected formatting differences due to different default styles for lyrics and figures.

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