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Posts tagged with “The player”

Today we’re excited to announce several improvements and new features for the Practice section of Soundslice, the suite of practice tools we launched earlier this year. Let’s dive in!

Edit and delete private notes

You can finally edit private notes — or delete them entirely. Great for fixing typos or adding insights you forgot to include originally.

Click the pencil icon to the right of each private note to open the editing interface:

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For more details, see the help page.

View extended slice practice history

You can now quickly view your practice history for any slice — beyond the default seven-day view. Just click “See more”:

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Rename slices in practice lists

Let’s say you purchased a course from our store but the course’s slices use names like “Part 4(b)” that don’t make sense in your practice list. Or you bookmarked a community slice but its title has one too many emojis for your liking.

Renaming to the rescue!

You can now rename any slice in a practice list, to make it easier for you to find and understand. Renaming is private to you. For more details, see “Renaming slices” on this help page.

Access saved loops more quickly

You gotta love our saved loops feature, where you can save a specific subset of music for quick access.

Now, we’ve made it even easier to access them. When you’re in a practice list and view its list of slices, we now display the saved loops for each slice...

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...and you can click any saved loop name to immediately open that slice with that specific saved loop active. This saves you a few clicks and gets you to practicing even sooner.

A related bonus for power users: saved loops are now bookmarkable in your web browser. (That is, they have a distinct URL that can be bookmarked.)

Dedicated pages for each practice list

Each of your practice lists now has its own dedicated web page, with the full list of slices and the last-practiced date for each. This can help you quickly get a sense of what you haven’t practiced lately.

New design for lists of practice lists

On your main Soundslice homepage and Practice page, we used to display the first four slices for each of your practice lists. Now, we’ve simplified this — we simply display a big, single image for each practice list.

The upshot is that it’s easier to see all of your practice lists, because previously they tended to get buried behind all of the slices.

New mobile navigation

If you’re viewing our site on a phone (and you’re logged in), you’ll notice we’ve added app-like navigation on many pages. It’s the bottom row of icons shown here:

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This gives you quick ways to access the primary sections of our site — including the overview, the slice manager and the practice area.

It works particularly well if you’ve installed Soundslice in your phone’s home screen. (Highly recommended!)

Here’s a bunch of new functionality designed to give you more control over how Soundslice displays the currently playing music.

Previously, our playhead (the vertical line that shows you where you are in the music) was always orange, and notes would light up when they were played, like this:

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That’s still our default behavior, but starting today you can customize how this works. Our player’s settings menu now has a new “Playhead style” section:

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Let’s walk through what’s new here. First, you can choose from four playhead designs.

Line is our default, classic look (as seen in the animation above).

Small rectangle is a bit softer, for folks who find the default behavior to be too in-your-face:

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Wide rectangle looks like this:

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And Hidden during playback removes the playhead entirely:

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Next, you can choose from one of four color themes: Orange (our default), Subtle, Blue and Yellow. This controls the color of the playhead, the color of the currently played notes and the color of the current bar (if applicable).

Next, you can now choose not to highlight the currently playing notes. You might prefer this if you tend to sight-read far in advance; this way you won’t get subtly distracted by the notes changing color.

And finally, you can now choose to highlight the current bar. This can help orient you in a larger piece of music. Here’s what it looks like, using our new Blue theme:

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These various controls give you a wide variety of possible aesthetics and functionality. Perhaps disable note highlighting but enable bar highlighting, to emphasize one bar at a time? Or use a wide rectangle for a more subtle scrolling playhead? Or disable everything entirely, giving the effect of a slowly scrolling piece of paper? Give it a shot and let us know what you think.

If you’re a paying customer (thanks!), we’ll automatically save your preferences and apply them to any slice you view. If you’re on our Free plan, you can still tweak these settings but they won’t be saved after you navigate away from the particular slice.

This feature is now live sitewide for all Soundslice users, including embeds. For more, see our new help page.

The Soundslice player gives you lots of control over the music you’re learning and practicing — like changing the speed, changing visual layout and much more. But until now, you would essentially “start from scratch” each time you loaded a slice or refreshed the page — meaning you’d need to reset various options.

Today, we’ve started to automatically save your current view preferences. If you’re logged in and have a paid Soundslice account, we will now auto-save the following:

This applies to any slice you view on our site, not just the slices you’ve created yourself. And you don’t have to do anything; saving happens automatically in the background.

Settings are auto-saved on a per-slice basis, and they’re independent of device. So if you view a slice on your tablet, change the speed, then view it on your laptop, your laptop will remember the speed setting you used on your tablet for that particular slice.

For more on auto-saved settings, see our new help page.

We’ve started with the three settings we thought would be the most useful, but we’d like to hear from you: which other settings would you like us to preserve across sessions?

We’re also considering global settings versus per-slice settings, but we’ve started with per-slice settings for now. In the future, it might make sense for certain settings to be global while other settings remain per-slice.

Note to our Licensing customers: this auto-saving currently does not apply to Soundslice embeds. It only applies to music viewed on soundslice.com proper.

Today we’re introducing a new layout mode for sheet music in Soundslice: Auto layout.

When it comes to laying out music in Soundslice, we previously had three options:

  • Fluid automatically calculates the number of measures of music per line to fit your current screen.
  • Paged treats the music as if it’s on a static sheet of paper, giving you control over line breaks.
  • Horizontal scrolls your music “infinitely” to the right, without any line breaks at all.

Historically we’ve used Fluid layout by default — effectively optimizing for small screens. But we realized that, on larger screens, Paged layout is nicer because it honors intentional line breaks and generally results in music that’s easier to read.

So if Fluid is better for small screens and Paged is better for large screens...why not try to find a compromise? That’s what our new Auto layout does.

In Auto layout, we’ll use Paged if the notation area is large and Fluid if the notation area is small.

In our testing, we’ve found that this feels really nice. Music in Soundslice is readable and “ergonomic” in both large and small screens, depending on context.

Our player now uses Auto layout by default. You can always switch to one of the other layouts explicitly if you prefer those. We’ve redesigned the Layout section of our settings menu to include all four options:

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Notes for Soundslice embeds

For those of you who embed Soundslice in your own website via our Licensing plan, note that Soundslice embeds still use the old behavior for the time being — i.e., there is no “Auto” layout available, and the default is still Fluid.

That’s because, for big player changes like this, we have a policy of giving our embed customers a month’s notice, rather than taking you by surprise. This gives you a chance to update any help files, screenshots or other documentation if you choose.

We’ll be making this change to all of our embeds in one month — May 16.

Sometimes you might be working with audio that’s out of tune. Perhaps it’s an older recording, or it uses a pitch standard other than A440, or the musicians simply didn’t tune their instruments.

For these situations, Soundslice now supports pitch correction (aka pitch shifting). You can make fine-grained tweaks to your audio’s tuning, so that you can practice along with it without needing to detune your instrument.

This is now available within our syncpoint editor for all MP3 recordings. You’ll see new controls for Semitones and Cents:

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As you change the pitch there, it will immediately take effect in audio playback. What’s more, you can then save your pitch correction so that it’ll automatically be applied to anybody viewing your slice going forward.

For more on our new pitch correction feature, see the new help page.

Transposition of audio playback

We’re also launching a related feature: our transposition feature now supports transposing the audio (for MP3 recordings).

Previously, the transposition function only transposed sheet music and synthetic audio playback. Now, the transposition also applies to MP3 recordings — meaning the audio will change key seamlessly with the sheet music.

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If you’d rather not transpose the audio, uncheck the new “Transpose audio playback” checkbox. This will keep the audio as-is while continuing to transpose the notation.

Many people have requested this over the years, and it’s finally here: Soundslice now has a speed training feature!

This lets you automatically increase playback speed each time through a loop. It’s a great practice tool, helping you ease gently from comfortable speeds to more challenging ones.

To begin speed training, view any piece of music in Soundslice and click the speed interface at the bottom of the screen, then choose “Speed training…” It looks like this:

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Detail-oriented Soundslice users will notice that we’ve also added some shortcuts there for commonly accessed speeds.

Next, you’ll see a menu that lets you set the speed training parameters:

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These parameters are:

  • Initial speed — the initial playback speed we’ll use when you press Play.
  • Final speed — the final playback speed.
  • Increase speed by — how much we should increment the speed each time it increases.
  • Each speed plays — how many times the loop will be played for each individual speed.

If synthetic playback is currently active, these values will be BPMs (beats per minute). Otherwise, they’ll be percentages, where 100% means the original speed of the recording.

After you’ve entered your parameters, just press Play to start the speed training. While speed training is active, we’ll add a little arrow to the speed controls, so that you know it’s active:

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That’s basically it! There are a few other details, and they’re explained in our new help page.

Speed training works with any music in our system and any type of audio, whether real audio, video or synthetic playback. Yes, even YouTube videos. And it’s totally free to use, both for creators and students.

Embedding Soundslice in your own website via our Licensing plan? Speed training is now available in your embeds as well, at no extra charge.

Enjoy the new feature and let us know if you have any feedback!

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!

Happy new year! Here’s what we’ve launched and tweaked recently.

Control over fingering position

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By default, our system automatically decides where to display fingering — above a note, below, left or right. You can now override our automatic positioning on a per-note basis. Read more.

Control over tuplet position

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By default, our system automatically decides whether a tuplet marking should be above or below the notes. Now, you can override this. Read more.

Better editor support for smartphones

If you’re using our notation editor on a smartphone, you might notice we’ve tightened the interface in various places, to provide more vertical screen space for your music.

New workflow when starting with a recording

When you create a slice by starting with a recording (as opposed to starting with notation), we’ll now immediately take you to a full-screen version of the video. Previously we assumed you would want to upload notation, so the video remained small.

Our intent with this change is to make it easier to throw a quick YouTube link into Soundslice, for quick practicing (e.g., slowdown and looping) without syncing notation.

Partial support for colored fingering and colored text

We improved our MusicXML importer so that we’ll use any custom colors you’ve used for fingerings or text. We haven’t yet improved our editor to allow for setting these colors directly, but at least there’s a half-solution now!

Keyboard shortcuts to change player speed

You can now use the (somewhat standard) keyboard shortcuts > and < to change playback speed in our player. Read more.

Waveform now allows for moving the selection

In our waveform view — both the standalone version and in the syncpoint editor — you can now click and drag a selection to move it left or right. Previously dragging on the selection would clear it and create a new one.

Assorted editor improvements

We’re always making tweaks and fixes based on your feedback (thanks to all people who make suggestions!). Here are some highlights of what’s changed in the editor recently:

  • You can now click the slice title to rename it.
  • If you upload a notation file, we’ll now automatically set the slice title. (But not if you’ve manually set the title before uploading.)
  • In the touchscreen interface, there’s a new “Select bar” feature.
  • Selection edges are now draggable. This works nicely with the previous “Select bar” feature on touchscreen devices.
  • It’s quicker to switch between edit and view mode. Previously there was a dropdown menu containing “Editing” and “Practicing.” Now it’s a simple “Edit” vs. “View” button, requiring fewer clicks.
  • We’ve added editor commands for 64th, 128th and 256th notes. (These functions are available in editor search.) It was already possible to use these small note values via our “Decrease duration” function, but these additional methods should make it easier to find.

Assorted rendering improvements

We’ve made many improvements to how music looks in Soundslice. As always, there’s nothing you need to do to take advantage of these; the improvements apply automatically to everything on our site. Highlights:

  • Accidentals are now right-aligned (previously they were left-aligned), and there’s now a consistent distance between an accidental and it notehead. This is very subtle stuff but hopefully makes the music feel nicer to read.
  • Ghost note parentheses no longer collide with dots, accidentals or fingerings.
  • Slide (gliss) lines in notation now always have a minimum width. Previously they could be comically small in some cases.
  • Arpeggio markings (the squiggly lines) are positioned better. Previously they were a bit too far to the left.
  • Bar numbers are now hidden at the start of a new passage. You can override this by specifying a manual bar number.

Percussionists, rejoice! Soundslice now natively supports sticking.

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Sticking instructions tell a percussionist which hand to use when performing a given note. Soundslice supports the following:

  • L — left
  • R — right
  • B — both

Per convention, stickings use an all-caps serif font and are positioned in a horizontal row below the notation. For grace notes, we’ll automatically reduce the sticking size.

Previously, people would use various hacks in order to use sticking on Soundslice — such as entering it as lyrics (yuck!). This was a problem because our system automatically does certain things for slices with lyrics, such as enabling lyrics-only mode, repositioning dynamics/hairpins above the staff and displaying a “Toggle lyrics” button in the Instrument appearance settings. Stickings are not lyrics, and they deserve their own special treatment.

Here’s why our sticking feature is great:

1. Entry is very quick. In our editor, just open the sticking tool and type L or R. No need to hold Shift; we’ll capitalize it automatically. Hit spacebar to go to the next note.

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2. We import them automatically. To those of you creating slices by importing them from other notation programs: we’ve improved our MusicXML importer to detect stickings. We look for text such as “L” or “R” in percussion staves and automatically treat this as sticking instead of boring “plain text.”

3. Stickings can be dynamically shown or hidden. If a slice has stickings, the “Instrument appearance” settings will include a button that lets you quickly toggle them:

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This works the same as fingering, tablature, lyrics, etc. It’s the power of our “living sheet music.”

4. Stickings are treated as semantic data. Our system doesn’t just see the text L and R — it actually understands those underlying concepts of left and right. This opens the door for future features where we can use this data in intelligent ways. Stay tuned...

For more on sticking, see our new help page.

Here’s a big new Soundslice feature that will help you concentrate while you’re learning or practicing. It’s called focus mode, and it’s a way to hide all music except what you’re working on.

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It’s simple to use. First, create a loop over the area you want to focus on — either by dragging across the notes (on devices with a mouse) or clicking the loop icon. Then click the “...” icon at the top right of the selection and choose “Focus on this.”

Soundslice will immediately hide all the notation except the bars you’ve selected. What’s more, the associated audio/video will be cropped precisely to the selected bars, no matter whether you’re using audio, video or synthetic playback.

This means you can practice this section of music without being distracted by other parts, and you don’t have to worry about the playhead going outside of the area you care about. Less futzing, more practicing.

There’s some heavy-duty stuff happening here behind the scenes, thanks to our many-year investment in making a state-of-the-art web sheet-music rendering engine. Focus mode treats your focused music as if it’s a standalone piece. This means:

  • It’ll start with the appropriate clef, key signature and time signature.
  • It’ll be laid out nicely across your screen. (This is especially useful on small screens!)
  • Any notations that extend into or out of your focused area will be automatically, and gracefully, dealt with — such as slurs, ties, hairpins and ottava (8va) markings.
  • All the parts of our player that automatically react to your notation — from the visual fretboard (which looks at your tab’s maximum fret number to decide its size) to the instrument appearance menu (which looks at the types of notations used in your music in order to provide options on showing/hiding things) — will take focus mode into account.

For more details on focus mode, see our new help page.

Focus mode is now available on any piece of music on Soundslice. It’s absolutely free to use, even if you’re not logged in. It’s also available for all embeds for people in our Licensing plan. Enjoy, and may your practice be ever more efficient!

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