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The Soundslice Blog

We’ve redesigned the way loops look, with the goal of helping you focus on the music and providing a more elegant look.

Previously, when you created a loop, we used a light purple background behind the music, like this:

Screenshot of old loop design

Now, it looks like this:

Screenshot of new loop design

Instead of adding a color to highlight your loop, we now deemphasize the music that’s outside your loop. There’s a subtle fade on both edges, too; we tried to strike a balance between communicating the precise loop boundaries and retaining a feeling of connection to the rest of the music.

Overall we think this new design gives loops a more elegant aesthetic and helps you focus. We’d love to get your feedback on this change — please let us know what you think!

Notes for Soundslice embeds

For those of you who embed Soundslice in your own website via our Licensing plan, note that Soundslice embeds still use the old loop design for the time being.

That’s because, for big player changes like this, we have a policy of giving our embed customers a month’s notice, rather than taking you by surprise. This gives you a chance to update any help files, screenshots or other documentation if you choose.

We’ll be making this change to all of our embeds in one month — November 8. In the meantime, if you’d like to use the new loop design in your embeds, use the URL parameter newloop=1. (See here for information on URL parameters.)

If you use Soundslice to create instructional materials with a lot of talking and explaining, we have an excellent new feature for you.

You can now create nonsequential syncpoints — meaning the syncing between a video and sheet music no longer has to be linear.

Previously, as you watched a slice, the playhead would always be moving forward (except in cases of repeats or jumps). Now, when you sync your slice, you can choose to move the playhead back a few bars or even hide it during a segment.

Why would you want to do this? In music-lesson videos (particularly those recorded without Soundslice in mind), there are times when the instructor pauses to explain a part of the music, perhaps repeating it multiple times while discussing it. If your goal is to sync that video with sheet music, you’re forced to decide: “Should I duplicate the notation each time the instructor plays it, or should I use a commentary bar to label this with text?” Either way can be labor intensive if you want to create top-notch instructional materials.

Now, if you’re in that situation, you can simply add some extra syncpoints, to move the playhead back to the appropriate part of the sheet music. Or you can hide the playhead entirely, if you’d like the student to focus on the video. Essentially, nonsequential syncpoints save you time and can result in a clearer learning experience for the student.

This is an advanced feature, and it can be hard to understand, so we’ve put together a sample lesson video using three different approaches. Check out our new help page on nonsequential syncpoints to see the examples and learn more.

Not interested in this? No problem. For the common case of using Soundslice to sync a performance video/audio with sheet music, you won’t need to use nonsequential syncpoints — just use the same workflow you had before.

For those of you using Soundslice for this type of music education, we’re looking forward to seeing how you use this new feature.

Here’s what we’ve launched and tweaked recently. There’s something for everybody in here!

Improved editor touchscreen interface

Since launching a touchscreen editing interface last month, we’ve gotten good feedback from musicians actually using it. We’re following up with some improvements directly based on that. Can you spot the differences in this new screenshot?

Screenshot

First, we’ve made the piano keys function as a toggle. If a note is selected and already exists in your notation, you can tap it in the piano keyboard (or fretboard) to remove the note. This feels really intuitive and was suggested by a few users.

Second, we added an “Auto-advance” button. Click that to enable auto-advance mode, which will automatically advance the cursor each time you enter a note. Handy for quick entry of single-note lines.

Third, we removed chord mode. It no longer felt necessary due to the previous two changes.

Fourth, we removed the up/down arrow buttons, to make the interface less cluttered. Those arrows weren’t really useful, as you can simply tap on the keyboard or fretboard to select another note in the current beat.

All of this is covered in more detail in our updated help page. Thanks to the folks who sent us feedback to help guide these changes!

“Pending” students in private courses

This one’s for people in the Teacher plan.

Previously, on the “Manage students” page for a private course, you could add students via email address — but it required the email address to already exist in our system. If you tried to add an email that didn’t yet have a Soundslice account, you’d see an error message.

Now, if you add an email address that doesn’t have a Soundslice account, no problem. The student will be marked as “Pending,” and we’ll send them an email inviting them to your course. As soon as they create their free Soundslice account, they’ll get access to your course. Smooth!

Improvements to student management

Another thing for Teacher plan customers: we’ve made the student management page more useful.

First, we added a dedicated page for each of your students, listing all of the private courses they’re in, plus all of the slices you’ve shared with them personally. (See our separate blog post about the new individual sharing feature.)

Second, we added a way to remove students directly via your students page. This is much faster than removing the student from each individual course or slice.

See the updated help page for more info.

Slice manager redesign

We’ve updated the visual design of the slice manager — the page where we list all of the slices you’ve created.

The new design has explicit links for “Edit” and “Practice.” We’d found that some people thought it was only possible to open slices in edit mode — with all of the editor tools taking up valuable screen space — so we’ve provided clear, separate links to both views now:

Screenshot

To help guide your eyes to the right place, we’ve redesigned the slice and folder icons to be more subtle, and to add more color to the page.

We’ve also tweaked the filters at the top of your slice manager:

Screenshot

The “Shared privately” filter is brand new. It lets you quickly find all of your slices that you’ve shared privately — either in a private course or with individual people.

The “Secret link enabled” filter is also new, but in name only. This filter used to be called “Shareable,” but that turned out to be a confusing name, given we now support private sharing with individual people — a totally different thing. Hence the new name: secret links.

And regarding secret links, we’ve also changed our editor to use this term, in the slice privacy settings menu. The menu now looks like this:

Screenshot

“Add to course” is now “Share privately,” as the sharing options in that menu option have expanded.

More natural playhead behavior

This one is subtle, but it affects anybody and everybody using our player. We’ve changed our playhead’s behavior at the start of a bar.

Previously, our playback engine treated the barline as the start of the bar. This meant that, during playback, the playhead would touch the barline at the exact moment that the bar’s audio began:

Animation

However, this meant we had an inconsistency. For the first note in a bar, the playhead wouldn’t visually touch the notehead until a split second after the note’s audio. This was especially noticeable at slow tempos and in cases where a bar’s first note had an accidental (hence pushing the note even farther from the barline). For super-duper-beginner students, who rely heavily on the playhead position to know when a note is played, this caused confusion.

Hence, we’ve changed our playhead positioning so that this is no longer an issue. The Soundslice playhead will now always intersect with a notehead at the exact moment that note is played in the audio — even for the first note in a bar:

Animation

Various fixes

Some other fixes we’ve made recently, in no particular order:

  • Improved automatic positioning of fingering numbers to avoid clashing with ties.
  • For people selling courses: We’ve added a convenient link to your sales stats from the edit-course page.
  • In slices with triplet feel, when dragging across the notation to make a loop, the loop background was sometimes off by a few pixels. That’s now fixed.
  • In our notation editor, we redesigned the sidebar to make the buttons larger on smaller-screen devices such as tablets.
  • In our notation editor, if you hit the Enter key while editing text, you’d be taken to the start of the slice — due to a conflict with our default keyboard shortcut “Hit Enter to go to the start of the audio.” That’s now fixed.
  • In our notation editor, if you deleted the last rest in a bar and had tablature selected, your selection would move to the staff. The selection now stays in the tab. This was particularly apparent in our touchscreen interface, which changes dramatically if you have staff vs. tab selected.
  • In our notation editor, sometimes tuplet numbers and brackets weren’t rendered when creating the initial track in a new slice. That’s now fixed.
  • Our player’s transposition feature helpfully displays the slice’s original, pre-transposition key, but it naively took the key signature from the slice’s very first bar — meaning slices starting with commentary bars always displayed the key of C. That’s now fixed.
  • When you share your slice on LinkedIn, it’ll now bring in the proper title.
  • When using non-YouTube videos in our player, looping is a bit more precise now. Previously we would pause the video for a split second after each loop iteration. We’ve removed that pause. The video looping is still not as precise as MP3 looping due to the realities of Internet video (see here for comparisons), but it’s a bit better than it was before.
  • We made some subtle improvements to our visual keyboard. If consecutive white keys are highlighted, we now make sure to retain a visual border between the keys. Previously the highlighted color bled across the keys, making the distinction between keys hard to see.
  • We’ve decreased the stem length of grace notes in our rendering engine. Previously they always used a uniform length; now their default length is shorter, and they’re even shorter still for beamed notes. This results in a tighter and nicer look.

If you’re in our Teacher plan, you can now share slices privately with individual people. This is great for teachers who give one-on-one lessons.

Previously, if you were a teacher using Soundslice with individual students, you’d need to create a private course for each student — which felt like just a wee bit too much work. Now, you can simply share a slice directly with a student, without needing to create a course.

To make this possible, we’ve redesigned the sharing experience, expanding on the improvements we made in May.

Previously, when selecting which courses to put a slice in, you’d see a list of all of your courses, with a checkbox next to each one. This was a bit overwhelming for people who have lots of courses.

Now, we use a search interface that lets you quickly find the course(s) to select. And this also includes all your students, so you can quickly share a slice with an individual person:

Screenshot

Read more in our new Sharing slices with individual students help page, and please let us know your feedback!

Two weeks ago, we launched a tablet-friendly interface for our notation editor, using a piano keyboard. Today we’ve launched a big follow-up improvement: you can now use a fretboard instead of a piano keyboard.

Screenshot

This is fantastic for fretted instruments such as guitar, mandolin, ukulele or bass guitar. You can simply tap on a fret/string to enter a note — it’s fast and easy.

If your instrument uses tablature but you prefer the keyboard interface, no problem. Just tap a note or rest in your standard notation (as opposed to the tablature) and the interface will switch to the keyboard.

As we mentioned in our previous announcement, you don’t have to be on a touchscreen device to use this interface. It’s always available in our editor if you click the “...” menu at the top of the screen and select “Toggle touch input.”

More info is in our updated help page. Thanks to the various folks who requested this!

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