Posts tagged with “Notation editor”
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?
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:
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:
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:
“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:
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:
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.
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.
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!
We’re excited to announce that our notation editor is now optimized for use on tablets. This feature is free for all Soundslice users, and it works equally well on iPads and Android tablets.
We’ve built a bespoke note-entry interface specifically for touchscreen devices. If you open our editor from a tablet, you’ll now see a piano keyboard at the bottom of the screen. Tap any of the keys to add that pitch to your sheet music.
By default, if you’ve selected an existing note and tap a key in the keyboard, you’ll change the selected note’s pitch. To append a note to an existing note, click the “Toggle chord mode” icon above the keyboard. (That’s the button that’s highlighted in the screenshot above.)
Along with that button, you’ll see various other buttons for common tasks: navigating, changing rhythmic duration, toggling enharmonics, deleting, undo/redo and a few more.
Of course, our comprehensive editor sidebar has the full suite of notation tools Soundslice supports, and that works really nicely on tablets as well.
If you’d like to use this new interface from a non-tablet device such as a laptop or desktop, that’s also possible. Just click the “...” menu at the top of the editor screen and select “Toggle touch input.”
For more details on this new interface, see our new help page.
By the way, if you use Soundslice regularly on your tablet, don’t forget to add us to your home screen.
We’ve added a way to browse people’s public Soundslice channel posts by instrument — making it easier to find stuff to learn and people to follow.
Each instrument we support now has its own page, which showcases slices for that instrument.
It’s really fun and inspiring to browse around and see other musicians’ work!
If this looks familiar, then you’re likely already acquainted with our genre pages, which work the same way.
And speaking of genre pages, we’ve improved those too. They now list the most commonly used instruments in that genre, as measured by Soundslice channel post activity:
Click one of those, and you’ll get to another new type of page — the genre-instrument page. This shows you slices that have been tagged with the specific combination of genre and instrument. This is great for drilling down to find new musical material. Like jazz mandolin or fusion drums.
How do you get to instrument pages? One way is by clicking “Community” in the left sidebar of your Soundslice homepage, then selecting “Instruments.” (Here’s a direct link.)
Another way is by clicking the instrument tags that now appear across our site. Channel posts now include instrument tags below their name and description, like so:
You can click those tags to get to the specific genre or instrument pages directly.
How does our site know which slices use which instruments? It’s all based on another new thing we’ve launched: Our system now has a high-level “Instrument” classification for each instrument in your slices’ notation.
In our notation editor, when you add or edit an instrument, you’ll now see a drop-down Instrument menu at the top of the screen. Here’s where you can tell our system which instrument that music is intended for.
Our system already had two somewhat related pieces of data — the instrument name and the preferred synthetic sound — but these were loosey-goosey. Often the name ends up being something like “Track 1” and the synthetic sound ends up being the default piano even if the music isn’t intended for piano.
Those two other fields are still there, but the new dropdown gives you a clean, structured way to tell the system what instrument the music is for. We’ll likely be rolling out other features that take advantage of properly classified instrument data.
Here are various improvements we’ve made to Soundslice over the last month or so.
New “Add recording” screen
We redesigned our editor’s “Add recording” screen. It now has a nicer design and gives more appropriate weight/context for the various options.
New sidebar toggle design
We redesigned the little arrow button that lets you toggle the sidebar when viewing a slice. Previously, when the sidebar was closed, the arrow would jump all the way to the bottom of the page. Now it’s in a more consistent and obvious location.
Clickable instrument names
Those instrument names at the left of your music? They’re now clickable. If you click them, we’ll open the Settings menu and highlight where you can change visibility.
Better default beaming
We changed our default beaming for 4/4 time. Previously, beams would break on each beat; now they only break at the middle of the bar. Thanks to YouTube sensation Rick Beato for the suggestion.
Grace notes without slashes
Our editor now lets you create grace notes that don’t have a slash through their stem (appoggiaturas). Previously we only supported grace notes with a slash. We’ve also improved our MusicXML importer to detect this for all files uploaded from now on.
Use our handy editor search to find this feature.
Descriptions in course slices
When viewing a slice in a course, we now display the slice’s description (if available) in the left sidebar. Previously the description was only displayed on the main course page. It’s much nicer to have access to that when viewing the slice!
We’ve added the ability to color notes in the slices you create. This is nice for visually highlighting certain passages or helping beginners learn to read music.
Setting colors is easy. Just use our editor to select a bunch of notes, then open the color panel in the “Engraving” section:
For those of you using other notation software, we’re upgraded our MusicXML importer to import notehead colors as well.
For lots more information, see our new help page about colors. Enjoy!
Note that this feature is limited to people in a paid plan.
Aside from the new Paged layout feature (which got its own announcement), here’s a roundup of other improvements we’ve made to Soundslice recently:
We’ve completely redesigned our homepage. It does a much better job of communicating the various things you can do with Soundslice — we hope you’ll agree.
While we were at it, we also added a page about selling on our store.
Improvements to player’s settings menu
We made two small usability improvements to the settings menu:
- The “X” button at upper right will now always stick to the upper right, meaning it’s always accessible to quickly close the settings. Previously, if you scrolled downward within settings, you wouldn’t have an easy way to close. This was especially annoying on mobile devices.
- The background of the settings menu is now partially transparent — meaning you can still see a bit of notation behind it. This can be helpful when you resize music or switch to Paged layout.
“Replay repeats after jumps” feature
You can now specify whether repeat barlines are honored after a jump such as D.S. al Coda. This one will be appreciated by anybody who frequently creates music in AABA form. :-)
For more, see the new “Replaying repeats after jumps” section in this help page.
Visual improvements to Horizontal layout
We made two subtle improvements to Horizontal layout. Can you spot the differences in these before-and-after animations?
The differences are:
- The music now goes “flush” against the left edge — removing that inelegant horizontal space we had previously.
- We now add a subtle gradient/shadow effect to communicate that there’s more music offscreen.
Accessibility improvements to player
Thanks to some user feedback, we’ve improved the accessibility of our player for people using it with assistive technologies. Various parts of it are labeled in a clearer way and we hope it’s easier to navigate and use.
Editor: Usability improvement for text entry
When you use our editor’s text features and change the font parameters, we’ll now retain your changes for any subsequent text you add. A nice little productivity booster.
Smarter transposition of tablature
If you use our player’s transposition feature on tablature tracks, we now disallow downward transposition if it would result in unplayable music.
For example, if your tab has a note on an open low E string of a guitar in standard tuning, we no longer allow transposing downward — because that low note can’t go any further down.
Fortunately our transposition works an octave in both directions, so you can always transpose upward if needed.
Improvements to mouse scrolling
Previously our player had some weirdness when scrolling with the mouse — especially noticeable when you tried to scroll diagonally with both horizontal and vertical scrollbars active. This is much smoother and more natural now.
Many people have requested fine-grained control over line breaks in the music they create on Soundslice. Today we’re happy to announce this is finally possible! We’ve launched a new “Paged layout” feature and expanded our notation editor to give you control over this stuff.
Historically, we’ve always automatically wrapped music to fit whatever screen size you’re on. So if you look at a slice on a smartphone, we might opt to put two bars per system. The same music on a larger screen might use four bars per system:
But in some cases, you might want to force a certain layout, regardless of screen size — to make the music easier to read (and more consistently layed out across devices).
Our solution to this is a new view called Paged layout. If you open the player’s settings menu, you’ll now see a new Layout section:
This lets you quickly switch between three layouts:
- Fluid — music wraps to fit your screen (our “classic” approach)
- Horizontal — music never wraps, it just continues rightward forever
- Paged (new!) — music wraps to fit a set page width and preserves your chosen line breaks
Our default remains Fluid, though we might change this over time, based on feedback.
When music is in Paged layout, our zoom feature will not rewrap music. Instead, zooming works basically like a PDF:
This makes it less than ideal for use on small screens, but it’s certainly useful in other situations. Importantly, though Paged layout makes the music look like a PDF, you can still use Soundslice’s big features such as transposing, looping and playback.
Setting line breaks
So that’s Paged layout. But how do you actually control line breaks in Paged layout?
Our new help page goes into the details. The quick answer is: Our notation editor now lets you add/remove line breaks. It also lets you explicitly prevent a line break — for cases where you want the music to be a bit tighter than our normal spacing.
And for those of you using Soundslice with other notation programs, our MusicXML importer now imports line break data automatically.
Changes to the print version
Our print feature now uses Paged layout to determine how the music should be printed. So if your slice has line breaks, they’ll be honored when you print (as you’d expect).
Changes to our MusicXML exporter
Our MusicXML exporter now includes any line break information from your slice.
Specifying a default layout
For everybody else, we don’t yet have a way to specify a slice’s default view; it’s always Fluid. If you have some feedback on this, we’d love to hear your specific needs.
Enjoy these new powers and let us know how it goes!
Here are the latest Soundslice improvements:
New “Quick tour” integrated editor help
We’ve added a “tour” feature in our editor — an integrated help section that gives you a quick overview of the basic editor features.
You can access this tour via the editor’s Help menu:
We’ll also display this automatically for anybody creating their first slice.
You can now create single-line percussion in our editor! This was already possible via MusicXML import, but now you can do this directly within Soundslice.
Read more in the new help page.
New design when creating slices
We’ve simplified and beautified the options you see when you create a slice. Here’s the old version:
And here’s the new version:
We’ve also completely hidden the editor sidebar in this screen, as the sidebar wasn’t clickable anyway. Much clearer and better looking now.
Tracks are now Instruments
Previously we used the term Track to refer to each instrument/part in your slice. This term was not as clear as we’d liked, and it was too easily confused with our separate concept of Recording — so we now use the term Instrument.
The player, the editor and our help section have all been updated.
Here’s what we’ve improved on Soundslice this week:
Shortcut tabs in the slice manager
In your slice manager, you’ll now see some handy filters at the top of the page:
This lets you quickly access the slices that you’ve marked as shareable, posted to your channel or marked as embeddable.
Yes, you can use it in tandem with the search — so you can search your slices for a keyword and then apply the filters.
Improved editor design
We’ve tweaked our editor’s design to add a visual “frame” around the music. Here’s the old design:
And here’s the new design:
The goal here was to create a clearer visual distinction between your music and the rest of the editor.
We’ve also made some other small visual improvements to the editor. The editor search box now looks more like a standard search box, to help communicate its function. And we tweaked the sidebar’s design to be a bit more consistent with the other parts of the editor.
Support for “common” and “cut time” time signatures
We now support “common time” and “cut time” glyphs for time signatures. You can create them in our editor, and we’ll automatically import them from MusicXML files. Read more in our help page.
Previously we automatically converted these to 4/4 or 2/2 upon import — equivalent but lacking that visual panache.
Improved synth sounds for piano and guitar
We got new synth sounds for the following:
- Guitar: Acoustic nylon
- Guitar: Electric clean
- Guitar: Electric distorted
- Guitar: Electric jazz
- Guitar: Electric muted
- Guitar: Electric overdriven
- Guitar harmonics
- Piano: Bright
- Piano: Electric
- Piano: Electric grand
- Piano: Honky tonk
- Piano: Standard
Of course, Soundslice is all about syncing sheet music with real recordings as opposed to relying on cheesy synth sounds, but synth playback is useful sometimes.
Improved video icons for touch devices
You know those icons that appear when you hover over a video on Soundslice? The ones that let you choose video quality, change position or flip the video side?
Previously these icons were only shown when you hovered your mouse cursor over the video — which meant people using smartphones and tablets couldn’t access them (because they don’t have a mouse!).
This is now fixed. On touchscreen devices, you’ll now see those icons at all times, except when the video is playing.
Fixed slice manager titles not to be truncated
When we launched our navigation redesign last month, user TastyGuitarLessons pointed out in the comments section that long slice titles were getting cut off in the slice manager. This is now fixed.
Is there a lesson here? Good things come to those who post comments to our blog? ;-)