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Posts tagged with “Notation editor”

Here’s what we’ve improved on Soundslice this week:

New keyboard shortcut for ‘go to start’

When viewing any piece of music on Soundslice, you can now use the Enter key to go back to the beginning. This is a convention we’ve borrowed from DAW software, and many musicians already have it in their muscle memory. :-)

This keyboard shortcut also works in our notation editor. If you have a paid plan, you can use our custom keyboard shortcuts feature to change the specific key combination (look for “Seek audio to start” when editing your shortcuts).

Autoscroll during playback in editor

If you’re editing a slice and hit Play, the notation will now autoscroll during playback. Previously, autoscroll was disabled in the editor and enabled in view-only mode. Now things are nice and consistent across both modes (editing and viewing).

More intuitive editor selection behavior

If you’re editing a slice and hit Play, then eventually hit Pause, we will now select the note or rest that’s closest to where your playback paused.

Our previous behavior was a bit weird: we didn’t update the selected note, but our player’s internal “start playback from here” position was indeed updated. Meaning sometimes playback started from the selected note but sometimes it didn’t.

If that all sounds confusing and technical, just know that the new behavior should be much more intuitive!

Here are three small improvements we’ve made this week:

Autoscroll during playback when the editor is open

Previously, if you were editing a slice and hit Play, the playback wouldn’t autoscroll the notation. This was inconsistent with our non-editing mode, in which we autoscroll by default.

Now, both editing and non-editing modes do the autoscrolling. This is much more intuitive.

‘View’ links in the slice manager

In May’s editor redesign, we had changed the slice manager so that clicking on a slice would open it in editing mode. The only way to get a “read-only” view of your slice was to first open it in editing mode, then click the “View” link — which was a bit annoying.

Now, each slice in your slice manager has a separate “View” link at right. Click that to open the slice without the editor. We’re planning to continue improving the design here; stay tuned.

Ability to delete folders in the slice manager

Previously, you could only delete a folder if it was empty. Now, there’s a way to delete it along with all the slices and subfolders within it.

This is useful mostly for our customers who have mass-imported hundreds of slices and want a quick way to delete all of them.

Because deleting a folder is a large, potentially dangerous action, we have two safeguards in place:

  • If you try to delete a folder, you’ll be asked to type the exact folder name. This is intentional friction in our confirmation screen.
  • In organization accounts, only admins are allowed to use this feature.

Here’s a variety of improvements we’ve made to Soundslice this week.

Quickly copy embed codes

For those of you embedding Soundslice in your own websites, we’ve made it easier to get a slice’s embed code.

There’s now a “Copy” button next to the code. Click that, and the full embed code will be copied to your clipboard. Much better than highlighting the text manually!

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Input fingering more quickly

Last week we improved lyrics entry in our notation editor, so that the spacebar automatically moves you to the next note. Now we’ve done the same for fingering entry.

After you enter a note’s fingering, you can hit spacebar to automatically move to the next note. This makes the entry process really fast! If a given note doesn’t need a fingering, just press spacebar again to go to the next one.

This applies to both of Soundslice’s fingering concepts: general fingering (e.g., piano) and right-hand fingering (e.g., pima for classical guitar).

More info in the slice manager

We’ve improved the slice manager to add two new badges to your slices when appropriate:

  • Embeddable — you’ll see this if a slice has embedding enabled.
  • Shareable — you’ll see this if a slice has sharing enabled.

This lets you see this information at a glance, without needing to go to the slice’s page. It can help prevent silly mistakes like mistakenly thinking you’d already marked something as shareable.

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Duplicate slices stay in their folders

Previously, if you used our “Duplicate slice” feature, the newly created duplicate would appear at the top level of your slice manager — even if the original slice was in a folder.

Now, the duplicate will be in the same folder as the original. This makes it generally easier to keep track of your duplicates.

Synth playback now honors tremolos

We’ve improved our synthetic audio engine to honor tremolos in notation.

Fix for sharing edit URLs

Our recent editor redesign changed things so that the edit view of a slice has a different URL than the non-editable version. This has caused some small confusion, as people were trying to share their edit view URLs instead of the non-edit URLs — which didn’t work.

We’ve made a fix for that now. If you share an edit view of a public slice (something you’ve marked as shareable or published to your channel), your recipient will no longer see an unfriendly 404 page. They’ll be instantly redirected to the proper non-edit page.

We’ve improved our notation editor to make it much easier to enter lyrics. And we’ve improved chord entry too.

Lyrics

Previously, entering lyrics on Soundslice was a burden. Our interface had been designed for making small corrections to lyrics you’d imported, as opposed to entering them from scratch.

Now, it’s much faster. Here’s how it works.

First, select the starting note:

Screenshot

Then open the lyrics entry panel. To do this, click the “Lyrics” button in the Text section of the left sidebar, or search for “Lyrics” in our editor’s search box, or simply use the keyboard shortcut (W by default).

You’ll see something like this:

Screenshot

Each of those boxes represents a separate line of lyrics — i.e., for multiple verses. The top one will be selected by default.

To enter lyrics, just start typing. Your notation will automatically update with the lyric as soon as you type.

Whenever you hit the spacebar, we’ll automatically move to the next note. For a multi-syllable word, hit the hyphen character (-) at the end of the syllable; we’ll insert a hyphen and automatically move to the next note.

Screenshot

We’ve found this to be a really natural way of entering lyrics. And we’d love to hear your feedback — how can we make this as good as possible?

Chords

Previously, when you wanted to enter a chord using our editor, we’d give you a chord-entry interface that blocked the entire screen. Now, we’re using the same “live edit” interface that we introduced for text last week.

Screenshot

The biggest improvement here is with chord diagrams. You’ll now see the diagram automatically update as you enter the information — which means you’ll spot mistakes much more quickly.

Entering (or deleting) lots of chords at once? The new interface stays open until you close it — which means you can click a note, edit the chord, click another note, edit its chord, etc., without needing to manually open/close the chord interface.

We’ve made several improvements to our notation editor this week, most notably a redesigned “live editing” view. Here’s an overview.

Better ‘live editing’

One of the improvements in our recent redesign was direct feedback in text editing. Now we’ve made it even better.

First, we’ve redesigned it so that the text entry happens in the left sidebar. Previously, the text interface appeared in the notation area, and there was a chance it would appear on top of the notation you were currently editing. Now there’s no chance of that happening.

Second, this text-editing interface persists if you select another note. This makes editing (or deleting) text much faster, because you don’t have to re-open the text interface each time.

Screenshot

Third, we’ve made the text box bigger, to accommodate longer text. You can also make it even bigger by dragging the corner (depending on your web browser).

Fourth, we’ve made this live editing available for more types of notations:

  • Section names
  • Section letters
  • Bar commentary text
  • Bar number override
  • Roman numerals / barres
  • Fingering
  • Right-hand fingering (for plucked instruments)
  • Trill offset

In each case, you now get immediate feedback in the notation as you type, and the interface persists so it’s quick to edit multiple notes subsequently.

Change tuning

In our redesign, we launched the ability to customize tuning for tablature. Now, you can change tuning for existing tracks.

This is a bit trickier than setting tuning for a new track — because you need to specify how to treat the existing tab data. In this case, we’ve introduced a “Recalculate tab for existing notes” checkbox:

Screenshot

Easier track deletion

Previously, if you wanted to delete a track, you’d need to open the Tracks menu, click the track, then click “Delete track” at bottom right. Now, there’s a delete button directly in the Tracks menu:

Screenshot

If you delete a track by mistake, no big deal — just hit Control+Z to undo.

More powerful ‘Current’ section

One of our favorite features of our redesign is the section at the top of the interface that displays all notations that apply to your currently selected note. This makes it really easy to change or remove those particular notations.

Screenshot

Now, we’ve made that “Current” section even more powerful. It now applies to all selected notes, so you can make changes en masse. (Previously, if you had multiple notes selected, the Current section was disabled.)

Another improvement to “Current”: It now refreshes immediately when you enter new notation. Previously it only refreshed when you selected a new note.

Text simplification / unification

Back in March, we improved the two main types of text in our system — “Text” and “Expression text” — to basically work the same way. Now, as a final step to clarify this, we’ve renamed them to “Inner text” and “Outer text.”

This is much better naming, given that you can use inner text for much more than expressions.

They both work the same as before; the only change is in how we refer to them.

Smarter ‘Concert pitch’ toggle

If you’re editing tablature with a capo or shifted tuning, our editor’s “Concert pitch” button will now work more intuitively. We’ll no longer show the button if you’ve unchecked “Ignore capo in notation” or “Ignore tuning shift in notation.” And if you’ve left those options checked, the button will do the right thing.

Faster editor loading

Previously, our editor loaded every one of its (many) features as soon as you opened it. Now, certain editor features aren’t loaded by your browser until the first time you actually use them.

After all, if you’re using Soundslice to edit a choral score, there’s no need for your web browser to load our code for changing guitar tuning!

As a result, our editor is even faster to load. This is an approach called “lazy loading,” and we’re planning to do this for more parts of our editor and player over time.

Big news today: We’ve redesigned our notation editor! It’s even more powerful, more beautiful and easier to use than before. We think you’re going to love it.

For a quick overview of what’s new, check out this video:

If you’re just now finding out about Soundslice, welcome to the party. Our notation editor lets you create interactive sheet music (and tablature) quickly and easily. Our killer feature is the ability to sync notation with real audio/video — making us the best tool for transcribing existing recordings and creating music lessons that sync video with notation. And we’re entirely web-based, meaning you don’t need to install any programs or apps.

So what’s new in this redesign? Let’s dive into the details.

A new look

The first thing you’ll notice is the new colors and layout. We’ve made everything lighter in tone, and we’ve reorganized things to live in more intuitive places.

Screenshots comparing old and new

Specifically:

  • The left sidebar is thinner, meaning there’s more horizontal space for your music. We’ve reduced the size of the section icons and tweaked the design to make it clearer.
  • The top bar has been split into two bars. The first one is for overall slice information — its settings, its recordings, your preferences and our help links — while the second one is specifically for notation things.
  • We’ve moved tracks and version history from the left sidebar into the top bar. Previously, they were buried in the left sidebar, which felt like an inappropriate place.
  • Likewise, we’ve moved the “Upload notation file” and “Copy another slice” functions from the “...” sidebar menu into the top bar. Again, this is a more natural place for these functions.
  • We’ve added the slice’s name and folder in the upper left. Lots of people have requested the ability to easily return to a slice’s folder after editing; you can now do that!
  • We’ve reorganized the sidebar’s categories. There are new categories called Engraving, Performance, Repeats and Dynamics.

Otherwise, the primary editor interface — the left sidebar — works the same as before. With one (major and awesome) improvement:

New search feature

At the top of the sidebar, you’ll now see a search box. Click in there — or use the keyboard shortcut ⌘K (Control+K on Windows) — and you’ll be able to search our editor’s 250+ functions.

Screenshot

Don’t remember which menu “Toggle breath mark” is in, or what the icon looks like? No worries. Just search for it.

Once you’ve done a search, use your up/down arrow keys to select the command you want, then press Enter. It’s super fast, and it means you can do a lot of editing without your fingers leaving the keyboard.

The search results double as a “help” section. For each command in the search results, we display its keyboard shortcut (if available). Yes, this takes your custom keyboard shortcuts into account, if you’ve created some.

And the search is context-aware. That means: If a particular editor command isn’t available for the notation you’re currently selected, the command will be grayed out and moved to the bottom of the search results.

For example, in this screenshot I’ve selected a rest, in which commands like “Append interval” are irrelevant, so those commands are grayed out and moved to the bottom:

Screenshot

Aside from the search just being really darn fast, it has another big benefit: It gives us a place for commands that wouldn’t obviously fit in our normal sidebar. For example, we’ve added the command “Recalculate all beaming.” In our old editor, we would have needed to create an icon for this and find a sidebar location for it — both unnatural given the abstract concept of beam recalculation. In our new editor, we’ve added it to the search, given it a (hopefully) intuitive name, and we’re done. We expect to add many more commands this way going forward.

New “current” feature

Aside from the search, the second genuinely new and useful feature is the “current” section. In this section, we display all notations that are active on the current selection.

Here, the current selection is part of a tuplet, with dynamics, expression text and a section letter — so we display icons for those notations:

Screenshot

You can click any of those icons to open the appropriate editor feature directly. This is super handy, for two reasons. First, it gives you instant information about your selection. Second, it lets you quickly turn off (or change) a specific notation without needing to find the icon or know what it’s called.

New “Concert pitch” toggle

Finally! Our editor now has a “Concert pitch” button, which lets you toggle between concert or transposed pitches. For simplicity, this is only displayed if your slice contains at least one transposing instrument.

Screenshot

If you’re in concert pitch mode, both note entry and note display will be in concert pitch. This is useful if you’re transcribing (or arranging for) a transposing instrument such as Bb clarinet but are more comfortable “thinking in concert pitch.” You can always switch between them, and we’ll use the correct accidentals appropriately.

Easier voice switching

Next to the new “Concert pitch” button, you’ll find our new voice-switching buttons. These show you which voice is currently active, and you can click a voice to switch into it.

Previously, these buttons were buried in one of our editor’s sidebar menus. Now, they’re always visible in the upper right.

Clearer privacy settings

Previously, it wasn’t easy to find out whether your slice has been made public, embedded, etc. Our old editor had a “Share” menu at upper right, and you had to click that to see and change the status.

Now, we display the privacy settings directly at all times. The new privacy button at upper right will show you the current setting, and it makes it fast and easy to change.

Screenshot

As before, everything you create on Soundslice is private by default. If you want to share it — say, post it to your Soundslice channel or embed it in your own website — you can change that via this button.

Better mobile design

Our previous editor wasn’t optimized for small screens, and it was only possible to make a few types of edits. In our redesign, we’ve greatly improved things. The interface scales down to smaller screens, and you can make many types of edits. There’s more work to be done here, but it’s so much better now.

Custom tuning for tab tracks

Finally! This has been one of our most-requested features. When creating a tab track, you’re no longer limited to our list of supported tunings. You can now create a custom tuning:

Screenshot

As part of this, you now also have control over the way tuning is labeled in notation. Previously, if you used Drop D in guitar and wanted to rename it to “Tune low E string down a step,” you couldn’t do that; now you can.

Custom tuning is available to everybody who has a paid plan.

Editor preferences

We’ve introduced the concept of editor preferences. At the moment, there are two:

  • Play sound when note is selected: None, Play note or Play chord
  • Play sound when note is input: None, Play note or Play chord

You can access these via the editor’s “...” icon:

Screenshot

Now that we have the infrastructure for preferences, we’ll be adding more options here in the future. Let us know what preferences you’d like to be able to set.

Editor preferences are available to everybody who has a paid plan.

Direct feedback in text editing

Previously, when you added or edited text, you would do that in a popup window and wouldn’t see your changes until you clicked “OK” to exit the window.

Now, text entry uses a lighter-weight interface, where you’ll see your notation update instantly as you enter text or change its formatting.

Screenshot

We plan to make this interface available for other notations as well, including chords and lyrics.

Clearer route into the editor

Previously, if you wanted to edit one of your slices, you had to first open it, then click “Edit” in the lower right.

Now, this is greatly simplified. If you access a slice via your slice manager, it’ll be opened in edit mode directly.

If you view one of your slices in another context — say, on your channel — then you’ll see the “Edit” button at lower right as before.

Feedback?

We hope you love the new editor. And we’d love your feedback. Let us know here in the comments, or contact us any time.

We’ve made some improvements to our notation/tab editor:

Two-bar repeats (similes)

We already supported two-bar repeats, aka similes, when imported via MusicXML. Today’s improvement makes it possible to create them directly in our editor. Here’s what the button looks like:

Screenshot

This notation means “repeat the previous two bars.” Here’s an example:

Copy and paste across voices

Finally! This makes our copy and paste feature much more useful when working with multi-voice music.

New design for text entry

We’ve improved the look of the interface for editing text:

Screenshot

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:

Screenshot

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:

Screenshot

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:

Screenshot

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:

Screenshot

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:

Screenshot

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.

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