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Posts tagged with “Plans”

You can now import PDFs and photographs of sheet music into Soundslice!

Over the past year, we’ve developed our own music-scanning technology that extracts musical information from PDFs and photographs.

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It analyzes an image, figures out which parts are notes, what the notes’ pitches/rhythms are, where the bar lines are, and so on — all while trying not to get fooled by skewed photos, bad lighting and crud on the paper.

If all goes well, you get a full-fledged slice — meaning you can listen to the music, edit it, loop it, sync audio/video, add to a practice list and do all of the other lovely Soundslice things. Nice!

We built this because getting music into Soundslice has long been our biggest barrier to entry. Yes, we have a good MusicXML importer, and yes, we have a full-featured sheet music editor — but many musicians still only have stuff on paper or PDF. We want to take you “from zero to slice” as fast as possible, whether it’s for learning, practicing or teaching.

How it works

If you’re in a paid plan, you’ll see a new option “Start with a scanned image” when creating a slice:

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Click that, then upload a photo or PDF. You’ll see a “Pending image uploads” section in your slice manager while it processes:

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When it’s ready, you’ll get an email with a link to review your upload. In this review screen, our system will ask you some questions about what it detected.

For example, here’s a question the system asked me when it wasn’t sure what side a note’s stem was on:

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Here’s another example. The tie is pretty close to the bottom note — so our system is making sure the tie is in fact pointing at the other note.

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Some of our questions might seem laughably simple or stupid. This will improve over time, because the system is based on machine learning — indeed it’s the first part of our product that’s powered by AI. Each of your answers helps give the system a deeper, more nuanced knowledge of some very specific aspect of music notation.

You know those “Prove you’re a human” things you see online, where you have to click every bicycle, or identify the street lights? This is like that, except instead of helping a global megacorp build a self-driving car system, you’re helping a small music-education company improve its music-scanning system. (And obviously you’re helping ensure your particular music gets imported as accurately as possible.)

Eventually our system will reach a point where it won’t need to ask you any questions at all. Or perhaps only questions about things that might not have a clear answer or otherwise require human judgment. We’re not sure how long it’ll take to get there, but we’ve already seen the system become significantly smarter during its development.

Anyway, after you’ve completed the review process by answering those questions, we’ll create a slice and immediately bring you into our notation editor. This is our normal editor, with one exception: you’ll see your original upload in the bottom half of the screen:

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This lets you cross-reference between the generated slice and your original image, to spot-check for any errors or omissions. You can toggle the display of the original image by clicking “Show image” toward the top of the screen.

From here, you have a full-blown slice — so you can edit it, practice it, share it with students, etc.

Limitations

We’re still actively developing our engine, and there’s a lot it doesn’t yet do. But we’ve decided to go forth and launch it as a public beta, because we think it’s already useful enough for many Soundslice users. And due to the way its AI is set up, the more people that use it, the faster it learns and improves.

One significant thing it doesn’t yet handle is lyrics. And while it already supports tablature, the tab support is limited to standard guitar tuning or four-string bass tuning — and we require tab to have a corresponding standard notation staff (so alas your screenshot of a 1990s ASCII tab will not work).

For more information on the system’s limitations, see our detailed help page, which outlines specifics all the way down to the level of individual notations. We’ll update this page as the system improves.

During our beta period, usage is deliberately limited, while we keep an eye on how things are working. If you’re in the Plus plan, you can do five imports per month. If you’re in the Teacher or Licensing plans, you can do 15 imports per month. Eventually we’ll increase these limits.

For more information on this whole thing, see our new help page. Happy scanning!

We’ve added a new version of our Plus plan, billed yearly instead of monthly.

Previously, we only offered Plus as a monthly subscription for $5/month. The new yearly subscription is $50/year — effectively giving you two months free compared to the monthly version (!).

There’s no difference in functionality between the monthly and yearly versions of Plus. The only difference is the billing frequency and amount.

If you’re already in the Plus plan and want to change to annual billing to save some cash, you can do that via this page in your account settings.

Big news today: we’ve launched a new suite of practice tools, all focused on helping you make the most of the music you have in Soundslice.

We’ve been working for nearly 10 years now on perfecting our player — the core Soundslice experience, combining sheet music with audio/video for multi-dimensional learning. In our opinion, it’s the single best tool for learning and practicing any piece of music.

But beyond specific pieces of music, what about the bigger picture? How do you manage what you’re practicing, how do you stay motivated, and what tools can we provide to help your practice in a broader sense? We’re interested in zooming out — providing more connective tissue for your music-learning life.

Our new practice tools are the first step in addressing this. Here’s an overview of what’s new.

Practice lists

There are many parts to Soundslice, and you as a student can access content in many ways — from a teacher, from our store, from our friendly community or by transcribing or creating sheet music yourself.

Alas, up until now, these areas have been relatively segregated. When you log into your Soundslice account, there are separate sections for courses you’ve purchased, slices shared privately by your teacher, posts from the community and slices you’ve created yourself.

Now there’s a way to organize it all in one place.

Practice lists are a way to bundle slices together, in a specific order, for your own benefit. For example, a practice list could contain a handful of slices you created yourself, plus an Antoine Boyer etude you bought, plus an arrangement from Jake Estner’s channel.

It’s totally open-ended, and you can have multiple lists. You could have a “Warmup routine” practice list, plus a “Working on” list, plus a “Tunes for March 15 gig” list.

You’ll now see a “Practice lists” button at the top of every slice page (assuming you’re logged in). This is how you can add a slice to one of your practice lists, and it looks like this:

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Every Soundslice account gets a free practice list called “Bookmarks” by default. Our previous bookmarks system has been migrated to this and retired. If you used that system, your bookmarks have been automatically imported into your “Bookmarks” practice list.

The ability to create custom practice lists is now available for any Soundslice user in a paid plan. (The Plus plan is the cheapest, at 5 bucks a month — a good deal.) For more on practice lists, see our new help section.

Practicing slices

Organizing slices into lists is all well and good, but we’re launching more than just that today. When you view a slice in context of a practice list, you’ll get all of the Soundslice features you know and love — but you’ll also get some additional functionality.

The first thing you might notice is the left part of the page — it’s a special sidebar only visible for slices in practice lists:

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On smaller screens such as phones, you won’t see this sidebar by default. Open the sidebar by tapping this icon at the top of the page:

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The practice sidebar has three sections, each of which is a brand new Soundslice feature launched today.

Practice log

The practice log is a lightweight way to track your practice history. It’s super simple and (in our experience) provides an extra bit of motivation. Don’t break the streak!

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These circles represent the last seven calendar days, including today. (Today is always on the right.) For each day you practiced this piece of music, the circle is green. This quickly shows you your practice streak.

When you’ve practiced the slice for the day, just click that button to mark it as practiced:

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Man, that’s satisfying.

The practice log on an individual slice only shows seven days, for simplicity. But you can access your full practice history (at least since you started using Soundslice’s practice tools) to dive deeper.

For more info, see the new help page on practice tracking.

Private notes

The second new thing you’ll see on slice practice pages is called private notes. This is a way for you to write down reflections on what you’re learning, breakthroughs on technique, your current best BPM, etc.

These notes are completely private to you. Nobody else can see them, even if the slice is technically owned by somebody else (for example, if you’ve added a community post to your practice list).

It’s a simple and intuitive system, and you can read more about it here.

Saved loops

This one is my favorite! Remember how we launched focus mode back in November? It’s the feature that lets you select an arbitrary section of music and hide everything else, helping you focus.

You can now save a focus mode section, so that you can return to it quickly any time. Essentially this is a way to bookmark a “slice of a slice.”

For any slice in a practice list, simply drag across any part of your notation to create a loop. Then click the “...” button at the upper right of the selection and choose “Save loop.”

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We’ll automatically enter focus mode for your selected section of music, and you’ll be prompted to give the saved loop a name. By default we’ll use the bar range you’ve selected.

When you’ve done that, the newly created saved loop will appear in the sidebar:

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Once you’ve created saved loops, it’s very fast and easy to access them. Just click any of the names in the saved loops section of the practice sidebar, and your notation will instantly enter focus mode with the specific loop selected:

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Playback will automatically loop, and all other notation will magically be hidden — removing distraction and letting you focus on the subset of music.

See our new help page on saved loops for more, and enjoy!

The new practice homepage

And lastly: if you’re logged into your Soundslice account, you’ll now notice a new Practice link in the navigation:

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This page is basically the command center for all of our new practice features. It lets you create (and access) practice lists, and it shows you your practice history.

Next steps

We’re excited about these new features and excited to hear your thoughts about them. Your feedback will help guide us: where should we take this next? Drop a comment below or contact us. Hope you enjoy the new features!

Today we’ve renamed our paid plans, to be clearer. There’s absolutely no change in functionality to any of the plans; this is purely a cosmetic change.

Here’s what’s new:

  • The Amateur plan is now called the Plus plan.
  • The Professional plan is now called the Teacher plan.

Visit our plans page to compare features. Again, nothing has changed other than the names.

Today we’re launching a new type of Soundslice account: an Amateur account.

Previously, you could have either a free account, a Soundslice For Teachers account ($20/month) or a licensing/embedding account.

This new Amateur plan is intended for musicians who want some extra Soundslice functionality without breaking the bank. It’s only $5 a month.

That $5 gets you the ability to:

  • Upload audio/video to your slices, instead of being limited to YouTube.
  • Make “Unlisted” slices — useful if you want to share something without making it public on your channel.
  • Export your notation data — useful if you want to bring it into a desktop notation package for detailed engraving and printing.

We also wanted to give musicians a modest way of supporting Soundslice as a thanks for all the tools we otherwise provide for free. We appreciate your support — with your help, we’re a sustainable business building a product we love.

We’ll be adding more abilities and features to this plan shortly. Stay tuned!

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