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Posts tagged with “The player”

We’re announcing a bunch of new features and improvements today:

Embed channel posts

An exciting new option for those of you posting to channels: You can now embed your channel posts in other websites — for free.

Each channel post now has an “Embed” tab on its page (example). Click that to get the embed code for the post. Then just copy and paste that code into your own website. If you’ve ever embedded a YouTube video, you’ll feel right at home.

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The embed looks like this (go on, press Play!):

This is our “miniplayer,” which is optimized for giving a quick taste of the music as opposed to being a full practice environment. It has a “View full version” link, along with a link back to your Soundslice channel.

Some ideas for why you’d want to embed a channel post in your website:

  • For bloggers: Easily share licks/ideas in your music-focused blog, so that people can hear the real audio and see synced notation
  • For course creators: Promote a course you’re selling in our store
  • For Soundslice licensing customers: Give your potential customers an idea of the high-quality music learning experience paying members get access to
  • For music teachers: Give your potential students an idea of the high-quality music learning experience you’re using with your private students

Strum directions

You can now add strum directions to your slices. These are arrows that specify whether to strum upward or downward:

To add this to your slices, use the new “Strum upward” and “Strum downward” buttons in our notation editor‘s “More notations” section. This works for music with and without tablature.

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Disable synth playback

Each slice you create on our site has synthetic playback active by default, regardless of whether you’ve synced it with separate audio/video. You can now disable the synthetic playback option, such that only the “real audio” recordings are available for that slice.

Some reasons for why you might want to do this:

  • The specific piece of music doesn’t have pitched notes (e.g., it’s only chord diagrams)
  • You want to minimize choice/confusion for your students/customers
  • You simply don’t like the synth playback and don’t see value in it

To disable synth playback for one of your slices, edit the slice, click “Settings” and choose the (new!) “Advanced” menu. This is available for all paying Soundslice customers.

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Update your channel posts without unpublishing

Previously, if you published a slice to your channel and wanted to make a change to its channel post settings, the only way to do that was to unpublish it, make the changes, then republish. That was rather annoying…!

Now, you can edit the channel post’s information without unpublishing. Much better.

Ability to put a course on sale

For those of you selling courses in our store, you can now mark a course as “for sale.” Previously, you could have simply changed the price, but that didn’t communicate that the course was on sale. With our new feature, the old price will remain on the page, crossed out, for context.

More info is here.

Loading indicator

For those of you on slower connections, we’ve added a loading indicator in our player. Previously, the notation area of our player simply stayed blank until it loaded. Now you’ll be assured that things are loading.

A larger default video width

We’ve increased the default width of videos in our player. Previously, they were a bit too small. The video will now be 40% of the player’s width:

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Although it’s always been possible to resize videos easily, by dragging the vertical line between the video and notation, this is a nicer default.

Today we’ve launched a new feature that better communicates the presence of audio before or after a slice’s notation.

It looks like this:

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The new thing here is those “0:14” and “2:06” sections. (Here’s a link so you can play with it yourself.)

This slice, like many on our site, has a bit of audio introduction before the notated part (and some more after it ends). Until today, if you viewed this slice and pressed Play, the playhead wouldn’t start moving until 14 seconds later. This confused a fair share of Soundslice users; due to the lack of visual feedback, it was easy to assume something was broken!

After giving this thorny problem a lot of thought, we arrived at a solution: represent the audio intro (and/or outro) directly in the notation. This has some nice benefits:

  • The playhead immediately starts moving when you press Play, giving you feedback that things are working properly.
  • The timecode communicates the exact length of the intro, so you know how long before the synced notation comes in.
  • You can click anywhere in the intro area to pan to that moment of the audio, and you can drag across the area to make a loop. This unifies things nicely with the “real” notation area.

An additional benefit: This will save time for some of you who create slices. Several of our customers were already creating dummy bars of notation with labels like “Intro” or “Untranscribed audio” for this exact situation. Our new feature means you no longer have to do that! (Of course, the slices you’ve already created with that old workaround will still work as expected.)

For the record, here’s the specific logic we use:

  • If there is at least 1 second of audio between the first syncpoint and the (potentially cropped) start of the audio, display the intro section.
  • If there are at least 4 seconds of audio between the last syncpoint and the (potentially cropped) end of the audio, display the outro section.

We determined these thresholds based on experimentation with a variety of slices. We tried to find a balance between being useful and not being too overbearing.

Finally, for those of you creating slices, we updated our syncpoint editor to give you context on the intro and outro. The little message area atop the syncpoint editor will now tell you about it, providing some shortcuts to crop the audio.

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Hope you find the new feature useful, and let us know what you think.

Lots of features and improvements to announce today! Here’s what’s new:

New metronome button

We’ve added a metronome button directly to our player. This lets you quickly toggle a metronome pulse during audio playback.

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We already had a metronome, of course, but it was a bit awkward to get to — as people had pointed out. You needed to go into the audio mixer and increase its volume from zero. Now, it’s a simple one-click thing.

And this new metronome button is now particularly useful, because...

Metronome during real recordings

This is another thing many people have asked for. Previously, the metronome was only possible if you switched a slice to “Synthetic” playback. Now, the metronome works over everything — YouTube videos, MP3s, other videos, everything!

When played over a real recording, the metronome will use the recording’s syncpoints for the timing. This means it will ebb and flow naturally with the tempo of the performance. If you create slices and find the metronome feels “off,” it’s a sign your syncpoints are likely not precise enough — an easy fix in our syncpoint editor.

New video resizer

For slices with video, we’ve changed the way video resizing looks. Previously, it used a thick gray bar — which some people didn’t realize you could drag. Now, we use a (we hope) much more obvious drag “handle.”

Improvements on touchscreen devices

We’ve changed/fixed the way our player works on touchscreen devices:

  • In horizontal mode, it’s now possible to resize a loop. This fixes a bug where it wasn’t possible to drag loop edges in horizontal mode.
  • In vertical mode, previously a single-finger swipe would do different things depending on whether you were swiping horizontally or vertically; horizontal would create a loop and vertical would pan. We’ve changed this so that single-finger swipes always pan — hence making the interface consistent across horizontal and vertical modes. To create a loop on a touchscreen device, use the dedicated “Loop” button at the bottom of the player.

Resizable loops in waveform view

When dragging across the waveform view to create a loop, previously it wasn’t possible to resize an existing loop. We’ve fixed that. You can now drag loop edges in the waveform to resize.

We’ve also tweaked the visual design of the waveform loops to have “drag handles,” matching our style of loops over notation.

Loops in notationless mode

Speaking of waveform loops, when you’re viewing a slice that has no notation (only a video), we’ve fixed the Loop button. Previously it did nothing if you clicked it in notationless view! Now, it will create a three-second loop from the playhead’s current location. You can then drag the loop edges to fine-tune.

Automatic panning during dragging

When you’re dragging across notation to create a loop, we’ll now automatically pan the notation forward/backward when you drag near the edge. This is a really nice usability improvement.

Extra ‘close’ buttons

We’ve added an explicit ‘close’ button at the upper right of the visual fretboard, keyboard, violinboard and audio mixer. You could always toggle them with their respective icons in the player’s controlbar, but this makes things a bit faster and easier, especially when on a small screen.

Audio mixer panel simplification

We’ve simplified the audio mixer, which is where you can tweak volume on a per-track basis. Given that per-track volume changing is only possible when you’ve selected synthetic playback, we’ve changed the mixer to hide the per-track controls if you’re not in synthetic mode. This should help clear up confusion.

Track name cleanup

We’ve tweaked the way the track names look, at the left edge of notation. They used to have a thick orange rectangle, and we’ve removed that, to make things less distracting.

We also now hide the track name entirely if there’s only one track. This helps reduce visual clutter.

Smarter search engine

We’ve improved our sitewide search engine to work properly with accented characters. That means you can search for João Oliveira and find what you’re looking for.

Goodbye, ‘track controls’

Today we’ve removed the “track controls” from our player. Previously, you could click on a track name, to the left of notation, to view information about the track and change some stuff:

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This no longer exists. We decided to remove it because our recent player redesign has made all of those features available in other places. Specifically:

To change the view options, use the “Track appearance” part in Settings.

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To change the track’s volume and instrument sound in synth playback, use the audio mixer.

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Here are some improvements we’ve made recently:

Better rendering of half notes in stemmed tab

Previously, our stemmed tab view treated quarter notes and half notes in exactly the same way, which made it impossible to tell them apart:

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Now, half notes use shorter stems, while quarter note stems continue to extend all the way through the strings. This should clear up any ambiguity.

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New “About Soundslice” page

We’ve revamped our About section. Have a look!

Nicer design of “Add recording” screen

We’ve added some icons and removed the cheap-looking radio buttons. Here’s how it used to look:

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And here’s the new look:

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Proper key signatures with capos and tuning shifts

We made an improvement to our recent new options for capo and shifted guitar tunings. If you choose “Ignore tuning shift in notation” or “Ignore capo in notation” for a track, then we’ll automatically update the track’s key signature so that it takes the ignored shifts into account.

For example, if your slice is in the key of G major and you have a tab track that’s set to “Tune down 1/2 step,” then we’ll change that track’s key signature to Ab major. (Previously it remained in G major.) If you don’t want this behavior, just uncheck “Ignore tuning shift in notation” or “Ignore capo in notation” in our notation editor’s Tracks menu.

Changed enable_synth parameter in embeds

For those of you embedding Soundslice, we’ve changed the way the enable_synth=0 URL parameter works.

Previously, if you specified enable_synth=0 in a slice that had no recordings, playback wouldn’t be possible because our player got confused. Now, we’ll still allow playback — just with no audio. This is useful if you’re doing a sophisticated integration with your own audio playback engine.

If you use enable_synth=0 in a slice that does have recordings, then the synth player will be hidden, as before.

We’re excited to announce we’ve redesigned our player!

It still has all of the music-learning and practice tools you’ve come to love — now with a fresh design, to make things easier and more intuitive. These changes are all based on feedback we’ve received since our player was launched in 2014.

Here’s an overview of what’s new. We hope you love it.

Visualizations are easier to discover

In our previous design, the “Visualizations” (Fretboard, Keyboard, Mixer and other tools) were all combined behind a single button:

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This was nice and compact, but it meant these features were quite hidden: you had to know to click the small double-arrow icon to show the menu. We got lots of feedback from people who didn’t even know these visualizations existed.

In our new design, all visualizations are available directly from the controlbar, making them much easier to discover:

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This change also opens the door to exciting features in the future. For example, many customers have asked us for the ability to put “View full screen” and “Print” icons directly in the controlbar. We’re planning to make that possible in a future update.

Much better layout at smaller widths

In our previous design, important features like the speed controls, recording toggle and visualizations were hard to discover at smaller screen widths, because they were hidden behind the Settings icon:

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In our new design, more controls are available when the player is embedded at smaller widths. This means less clicking and faster access:

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At even smaller widths, the new design still keeps the speed and recording controls available. We use icons for these controls at smaller widths (instead of text), ensuring they have enough space:

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Changes to the Mixer

Previously, the Mixer contained per-track volume and appearance controls (a way to show/hide notation, chords, lyrics, etc). The tools themselves were great, but some students struggled to understand the metaphor of a “Mixer” and why the various tools were grouped together.

Our new design keeps all the functionality of the Mixer but groups the features in (we hope) a more understandable way.

1. Consolidated volume controls

Our player has three volume controls: per-track volume, metronome volume and overall volume. Previously, these three volume controls lived in three different places:

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Our new design consolidates all volume controls into a dedicated volume panel, accessible directly from the controlbar:

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2. Consolidated appearance options

In our previous design, track appearance options (showing/hiding notation, chords, lyrics, etc) lived in the Mixer along with the volume options:

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Now, these options live in the Settings sidebar, alongside other appearance-related controls:

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Easier-to-find play controls

For a while now, we’ve offered two features that let you control playback:

  • “Play with count-in” — adds a metronome count-in each time you press Play
  • “During loops, play only once” — changes playback so that, if you’ve selected a loop, the music will only play once

Problem was, these features were hard to find, because they were located in menus behind small arrow icons next to the play and loop buttons respectively.

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In our new design, we’ve removed those small arrow icons and added a “Play options” section to the settings menu. Much clearer and easier to find!

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Easier-to-access advanced settings

In our previous design, the “Advanced settings” lived in a separate modal menu, accessible by clicking “Advanced...” in the Settings panel. These were quite hidden, and lots of people didn’t know about them:

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Now, these are always available in Settings, alongside other appearance-related controls:

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More fully collapsed sidebar

If you’re taking a Soundslice course or viewing a post on somebody’s channel, the player has always had a sidebar to the left, with information about the slice.

In our previous design, when you collapsed this sidebar to get rid of it, we still displayed a thick vertical bar at left, to indicate the sidebar was collapsed:

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In our new design, we’ve removed that collapsed sidebar. We realized it was taking up valuable space that would be much better used for the main learning interface. Now, after collapsing the sidebar, you’ll find a little button directly within the controlbar:

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New visual design

Beyond these improvements in functionality and organization, we’ve made many tweaks to the player’s visual design — from refreshing various icons to polishing typography, colors and layout. It’s nothing revolutionary, but the improvements help make the player feel fresh and modern.

Importantly, our new design lays the groundwork for more customization ability. In the future, we’ll add ways for you to customize the player’s look and feel even more.

Feedback wanted

This redesign is now live everywhere on Soundslice, including embeds.

We’d like to thank all of our licensing customers who were testing the redesign over the last month. Do you have any thoughts on the redesign? Or ideas on what additional changes we can make? We always love to hear from people, so leave a comment below or get in touch.

Here are some new features we’ve launched recently:

New speed changing interface

We’ve redesigned our interface for changing speed. The main difference happens when you click the current speed: you’ll see a little popup instead of editing the speed inline.

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We made this change because it gives us some extra space to add a new feature. If you’re using the synth player and have changed the BPM from its default value, we’ll now display a “Reset to [default]” button. This closes a loophole we opened about a month ago when we changed the speed to use BPM; it wasn’t possible to reset the BPM without knowing what the original BPM was.

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Count-ins each time through a loop

This was a much-requested feature. Previously, if you enabled the “Play with count-in” option and set a loop, you’d only hear the count-in one time. Now, the count-in plays each time through the loop.

“Supporting” badges

All paying Soundslice customers now get a nice badge next to their username throughout the site. It’s a modest way for us to give thanks.

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Editor supports copying/pasting across tracks

Finally! You can now copy and paste notation across separate tracks in our notation/tab editor.

Note: if you paste a non-tab track’s notes into a tab track, we’ll automatically figure out the tab. And if our automatic guess needs tweaking, you can use this other new feature...

Editor shortcut for shifting tab notes up/down strings

The new Option+Up and Option+Down keyboard shortcuts move tab notes up or down a string, retaining their pitch.

If you’re a paying customer, you can customize the keyboard shortcut. Look for “Move note up a string, retaining pitch” in the shortcut menu.

New recording type: MP3 URL

If you’d like to sync a slice with an MP3, but you don’t want to upload it to our servers for whatever reason (say, you already have a web host), you can use our new “MP3 URL” recording type.

When you add a recording, just select “MP3 URL” and enter the URL of your MP3. It works just like our “MP4 URL” feature if you do your own video hosting.

Improvements for store sellers

For those of you selling courses on Soundslice:

  • The account settings page now has a way for you to update your PayPal payment info for getting your payouts. Previously you had to email us to do this.
  • We now display courses directly on your user profile, for higher visibility. Previously they were accessible via the “Courses” tab (which is still there).
  • We’ve added a payout history page, which gives you a convenient summary of all the payouts you’ve gotten from Soundslice sales.

Our music player is now available in 10 languages!

You might have already noticed this, because we soft-launched the feature a few months ago but hadn’t yet announced it. With any piece of music on Soundslice, the interface will use one of our 10 supported languages:

  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • Czech
  • Dutch
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Russian
  • Slovak
  • Spanish

By default, the language is chosen based on your system settings. If you’d like to change it, you can open our player’s Settings menu and set the language explicitly.

Is your own language missing from our list of supported languages? We’d love to expand our list, and we could use your help. Contact us and let us know which language you can help translate.

We haven’t yet translated the rest of our site, including our notation editor, store or community area; our top priority was our music player, which is our core product. We hope to tackle the rest of the site in the future.

If you’re embedding the Soundslice player in your own website, our player will automatically choose the language based on your users’ language setting. Due to web browser restrictions with third-party cookies, the embedded player doesn’t display the language selector in Settings. But, you can manually specify the player’s language with the new lang URL parameter, documented here. For example, if your own user authentication system lets users specify a language, you can then easily pass that preference to Soundslice.

Today we’ve launched a new feature that many people have asked for: a left-handed view of the fretboard visualization.

From now on, when you open the fretboard, you’ll see an icon at upper left that lets you switch between right-hand (default) and left-hand view. It’s the little hand icon.

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Click that, and the fretboard will instantly flip to a left-handed view. Click it again to go back to right-handed view.

Today we’ve changed how our playback speed selector works: you now specify the speed in BPM (beats per minute) instead of a percentage, if you’re using synthetic playback. “Real” recordings, such as MP3s or videos, still use a percentage.

The idea here is to better reflect how musicians think about tempo. If you’re learning a fast piece of music, starting slowly and building up tempo, then it’s more natural to think in BPM than an arbitrary percentage.

It’s also a bit presumptuous to grant a specific tempo “100 percent” status, in cases where you don’t have a reference recording you’re trying to mimic. Often there’s no absolutely right or wrong tempo.

At the same time, lots of musicians have grown accustomed to using percentages, and we think this makes sense when trying to learn from specific reference recordings. That’s why we’ve changed our speed selector to work differently depending on the context:

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  • If the slice is synced with a real recording, then you change speed in percentages (the right example).
  • If the slice doesn’t have a real recording, or you’ve chosen “Synthetic” playback, then you change speed in BPM (the left example).

At the risk of complexity, we think this dual-purpose interface strikes a nice balance for the two learning approaches. Let us know what you think.

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