Posts tagged with “Notation editor”

For those of you creating slices: We’ve improved “beat text” and “expression text” so that you can toggle the font, font size and italics.

Previously, beat text always used the same font, and you couldn’t change its formatting. Expression text was only slightly better — you could toggle italics on or off.

Now, you can style both forms of text using the same options:


This is available now in our notation editor. All existing text appears exactly as it appeared before (but you can of course tweak it now).

With this change, “beat text” and “expression text” have essentially been unified — begging the question, what’s the difference between them? We’ve added a Text section to our editor help page to explain the subtle differences.

Finally, this is just the first step toward more enhanced text in slices; much of this project was about changing things internally to make richer formatting possible. What’s next? We’d love to hear from you about what kinds of text improvements you’d like to see.

Using Soundslice for music that has fingerings? Now you can quickly hide the fingerings if you don’t want to see them — and toggle them back on at any point.

In our player’s settings menu, you’ll now find a fingerings icon under “Track appearance.” It’s a hand icon that looks like this:


This icon will only be visible for tracks that have fingerings within. See here for an example you can play with.

Why might you want to hide fingerings? A couple reasons:

  • You might want to make the music more compact and clearer to read.
  • You might disagree with them, having come up with your own (different) fingerings.

Note this fingerings toggle applies to both types of fingerings in our system — traditional fingerings (e.g., piano or violin) and right-hand fingerings for plucked instruments such as guitar.

If you’re creating slices with fingerings, you now have the ability to hide the fingerings by default. In our notation editor, edit your track and deselect the fingerings icon. Anybody viewing your slice will not see fingerings by default, but they’ll still be able to enable them on in the player’s settings menu.

A final detail: Fingerings will always be shown in our visual piano keyboard, regardless of whether you’ve toggled off their display in notation. Likewise, fingerings will always be shown in notation if you have the notation editor open.

Here’s a powerful new feature for those of you creating slices. We call it “passages.”

It’s a way for you to tell Soundslice that a specific bar in your slice starts a new musical idea — a new passage. With this information, our engine will optimize the visual layout accordingly, making it look better and easier to follow.

Historically, Soundslice has used responsive notation — automatically determining layout from the width of your screen and your current zoom level. This is generally nice, especially on tablets and smartphones, but it also means that line breaks can happen in inconvenient places, making the music harder to read than it needs to be.

For example, consider a slice that consists of three scales. At a certain screen width and zoom level, it might appear like this:


It’s slightly awkward that the melodic minor scale gets split over two staves while the other scales don’t. :-/

Passages to the rescue. Using our notation editor’s new passage feature, you can mark each of those scales as a separate passage. That results in the following:


Much clearer and easier to follow! If you’d like to compare for yourself, here are two live examples: without passages and with passages.

When you mark a bar as “starts new passage,” here’s specifically what changes in your slice:

  • The bar will always start on a new line, regardless of screen width or zoom settings. Any other bars in the passage will be continue to be positioned responsively.
  • The key signature, time signature and clef are displayed.
  • Bar numbering is reset to 1. (You can override this in our editor by setting an explicit bar number.)
  • The previous bar gets an final barline. (You can override this in our editor by setting it to a double barline instead.)

Of course, our player also offers a horizontal mode, in which case line breaks wouldn’t make sense. So in horizontal mode, new passages are offset by whitespace. You can see that here:

(Have ideas about other things we can do for new passages? Let us know in the comments below.)

With all of that said, how do you actually use this feature in your slices? In our notation editor’s Bar menu, look for the new “Toggle new passage” button:


This will tell Soundslice to treat your selected bar as a new passage (or toggle it off, if it already starts a passage). Easy!

We hope you enjoy this new feature.

Here’s a roundup of some small improvements we’ve made recently.

General improvements to our site:

  • Videos can now go down to 25 percent speed, instead of 50. Hooray!
  • As you browse the timeline of slices from people you follow, if you press play on one of the slices, we’ll now stop playback for any other slices that are playing on the page.
  • Our violin fingerboard visualization can now be active for tracks whose notation is hidden.
  • Tenuto markings are positioned better in our notation. They’re now rendered within staff lines if appropriate.

Improvements to our notation editor:

  • When you drag to select notes, we used to display a box with a dashed border. We’ve removed this, as it was unnecessary and kind of ugly.
  • When you drag to select notes, you’ll no longer occasionally run into a weird bug where multiple things are selected despite you not selecting them.
  • When you’re adding notes on a staff line that has a currently active accidental, we’ll now assume you want to continue that accidental. Previously a newly added note would always use a natural if the key signature didn’t affect the note.
  • Slices can end in double barlines. We’ll now detect that when importing MusicXML, and we’ve improved our notation editor to allow this. (Previously we disallowed it for no good reason.)

We’ve made two improvements to the way we display slides in tablature — that is, slides from one note to the next, as done on a guitar.

First, we now draw a slur over slides in tablature. This makes slides easier to read at a glance, it’s consistent with how we treat hammer-ons and pull-offs, and it brings our behavior in line with what people expect from other tab programs.


Note we were already displaying slurs over slides in standard notation. Today’s change makes the tab consistent with the notation.

Second, we’ve added support for a second type of slide: one that doesn’t use a slur. Our notation editor now lets you create both of these types of slides. (Previously it only let you create slides with slurs.)

Slides with slurs are called legato slides, and slides without slurs are called shift slides. From the musician’s perspective, a legato slide is one where the string is not plucked again after the slide. A shift slide is where you do indeed pluck the string after the slide.

Here’s what the buttons look like in our editor:


Finally, here’s how we’re handling all existing slides on Soundslice:

  • If you originally created the slide in our editor, it will be a legato slide.
  • If you originally created the slide in an uploaded Guitar Pro or PowerTab file, it will be either a legato or shift slide, depending on what you used in that original file.
  • If you originally created the slide in an uploaded MusicXML or TuxGuitar file, it will be a legato slide.

If you’d like to tweak the slides in any of your slices, it’s super easy — just open our editor, select the note and hit the appropriate slide button in our editor panel.

We’ve simplified the way multiple voices work in our notation editor.

Previously, if you wanted to create a second voice in a given bar, you had to explicitly click the “Add voice” button. Our editor’s Voices menu — where you switch between voices — would only show the numbers for the voices that existed in the selected bar. And if you wanted to clear a voice, you had to click “Delete voice.”


Now, it’s much simpler. The Voices menu always shows numbers 1 through 4, and we’ve removed the “Add voice” and “Delete button” buttons. To write in a voice, just select the voice number and start entering notes.


We’ve also fixed a related annoyance when moving between bars. Previously, if you were in voice 2-4 and clicked into a bar that didn’t have that voice defined, we would automatically create the new voice, with a single rest. This was annoying if you inadvertently clicked on a bar without meaning to create a new voice!

Now, if you click into a bar that doesn’t have the current voice defined, we’ll still create a rest — but it will be a “temporary” voice. If you then navigate to another bar (or voice) without having entered any notes, we’ll immediately delete that temporary voice. This is much nicer, and it means you don’t need to worry about creating random voices all over the place.

Finally, there are two other changes as part of this:

  • When you drag across notation, the selection is now limited to the current voice. Previously, it would select everything across all voices, and there was no way to limit the selection to a single voice.
  • We now gray-out all notes outside the current voice, when the editor is open. Previously, we did this only for the currently selected bar. And we’ve improved the gray-out effect to include the note stems, making it easier to see which voice you’re editing.

You can finally add and remove hairpins — aka crescendo or decrescendo markings — in the Soundslice notation editor.

Previously, we only supported hairpins if you happened to import a MusicXML file that already had them defined. Now, you can create and remove them directly within our editor.

Use these two new buttons in our editor’s “More notations” menu:


To create a hairpin, select a bunch of notes and click the appropriate button to specify a crescendo or decrescendo. That’s it!


While we were at it, we improved the way we display hairpins. If a hairpin is split across multiple staves, then we’ll now make sure that the hairpin isn’t fully closed at the stave break. Here’s a before-and-after:


It’s subtle change that communicates the intent of the hairpin more clearly.

Over the past month, we’ve rolled out several improvements to how our music looks — plus some new functionality in our notation editor. Here’s an overview.

Slur positions

Our system has always used built-in rules to determine whether slurs should be displayed above or below a staff.


Now, you can manually override our automatic positioning. Use the new “Toggle slur side” button in our notation editor.


You can also assign a custom keyboard shortcut for this, if you’d like.

Relatedly, we now preserve the slur position for any music you import from MusicXML files going forward. (Previously, we ignored that information.)

Better accidental positioning with multiple voices

Previously, in music with multiple voices, our rendering engine was quite naive about accidentals, resulting in ugly clashes like this:


Now, we take multiple voices into account when positioning accidentals, to ensure they don’t collide:


Much better!

On a similar note, our rendering engine is now smarter about whether an accidental is strictly necessary in a multiple-voice context.

In this example, the second A♭ isn’t necessary, because it’s already been made active by the first note in the bar:


That’s how we used to render it, because our algorithm for accidentals didn’t properly take multiple voices into account. Now, we do the right thing and hide that second accidental:


Of course, you can still manually display the accidental if you’d like. Which brings us to...

Forced accidentals

Previously, our system would only display an accidental if it was absolutely necessary, or if you specified a cautionary accidental within parentheses. Now, you have the ability to force the display of any accidental.

To do this, just highlight the note in our notation editor and click one of the accidental buttons.

In addition, we’ll now detect forced accidentals for any music you import from MusicXML going forward.

Cautionary time signatures

We now display a cautionary time signature at the end of a stave, if the first bar in the next stave has a different time signature:


Note that our system lays out notation according to your device’s screen size and your current zoom level — so cautionary time signatures will appear automatically when the situation presents itself.

Right on the heels of our recent notation engine improvements, here’s a nice new way of formatting text within your slices.

Previously, we only supported “text above” and “text below,” which look like this:


This type of text always gets its own dedicated margin — which, in practice, means it can be quite far from the notes it’s describing. It works well for high-level descriptions of music but not well for performance instructions and expressions such as accel.

Now, we support a second type of text — expression text — which is positioned much closer to the associated note.


You can place it either above or below notes, and it can be optionally italicized (a longtime convention for expression text).

To create this type of text, use the new “expression” buttons in our notation editor (documented here). We’ve also updated our MusicXML importer to use that style of text when appropriate.

Here’s a new feature that several people have requested: you can now customize bar numbering in your slices.

Before this change, bar numbering in Soundslice was simple and “dumb.” The first bar was labeled as number 1, and the number increased by one for each subsequent bar. There was no way to change that.

Now, you can use our notation editor to override the bar numbers however you’d like. For example, you might want to:

  • Change the bar number to 0 for a pick-up bar, so that the first full bar gets marked as bar 1 instead of 2.
  • Reset the bar number to 1 for each lick/phrase within a larger lesson.
  • Change the first bar’s number to a larger number, to communicate that it’s an excerpt of a longer piece.

Here’s an example of the second idea:


This slice includes two licks, and we’ve reset the bar number for the second lick (hence the bar number “1” at the start of the second stave).

If you’ve overridden a bar number, all subsequent bars will be labeled relative to your override — so you only need to override one bar. For example, if you change the first bar’s number to “9,” the second bar will automatically be labeled as bar 10, and so on, without you needing to override the subsequent bars.

If you’ve overridden a bar number, the number will always be displayed in notation. Otherwise, we only render bar numbers for the first bar in each stave. Eventually we plan to add a “Display bar number for each bar” setting.

You’ll find the new “Override bar number” feature in our notation editor (see the help page here). We’ve also improved our MusicXML importer to automatically detect custom bar numbers for any MusicXML files you upload moving forward.

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