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Posts tagged with “Notation/tab rendering”

Aside from the new Paged layout feature (which got its own announcement), here’s a roundup of other improvements we’ve made to Soundslice recently:

New homepage

We’ve completely redesigned our homepage. It does a much better job of communicating the various things you can do with Soundslice — we hope you’ll agree.

While we were at it, we also added a page about selling on our store.

Improvements to player’s settings menu

We made two small usability improvements to the settings menu:

  1. The “X” button at upper right will now always stick to the upper right, meaning it’s always accessible to quickly close the settings. Previously, if you scrolled downward within settings, you wouldn’t have an easy way to close. This was especially annoying on mobile devices.
  2. The background of the settings menu is now partially transparent — meaning you can still see a bit of notation behind it. This can be helpful when you resize music or switch to Paged layout.

“Replay repeats after jumps” feature

You can now specify whether repeat barlines are honored after a jump such as D.S. al Coda. This one will be appreciated by anybody who frequently creates music in AABA form. :-)

For more, see the new “Replaying repeats after jumps” section in this help page.

Visual improvements to Horizontal layout

We made two subtle improvements to Horizontal layout. Can you spot the differences in these before-and-after animations?

Old:

Screenshot

New:

Screenshot

The differences are:

  1. The music now goes “flush” against the left edge — removing that inelegant horizontal space we had previously.
  2. We now add a subtle gradient/shadow effect to communicate that there’s more music offscreen.

Accessibility improvements to player

Thanks to some user feedback, we’ve improved the accessibility of our player for people using it with assistive technologies. Various parts of it are labeled in a clearer way and we hope it’s easier to navigate and use.

Editor: Usability improvement for text entry

When you use our editor’s text features and change the font parameters, we’ll now retain your changes for any subsequent text you add. A nice little productivity booster.

Smarter transposition of tablature

If you use our player’s transposition feature on tablature tracks, we now disallow downward transposition if it would result in unplayable music.

For example, if your tab has a note on an open low E string of a guitar in standard tuning, we no longer allow transposing downward — because that low note can’t go any further down.

Fortunately our transposition works an octave in both directions, so you can always transpose upward if needed.

Improvements to mouse scrolling

Previously our player had some weirdness when scrolling with the mouse — especially noticeable when you tried to scroll diagonally with both horizontal and vertical scrollbars active. This is much smoother and more natural now.

New player JavaScript API methods

We’ve added a few methods to our JavaScript API:

Many people have requested fine-grained control over line breaks in the music they create on Soundslice. Today we’re happy to announce this is finally possible! We’ve launched a new “Paged layout” feature and expanded our notation editor to give you control over this stuff.

Historically, we’ve always automatically wrapped music to fit whatever screen size you’re on. So if you look at a slice on a smartphone, we might opt to put two bars per system. The same music on a larger screen might use four bars per system:

Screenshot

But in some cases, you might want to force a certain layout, regardless of screen size — to make the music easier to read (and more consistently layed out across devices).

Our solution to this is a new view called Paged layout. If you open the player’s settings menu, you’ll now see a new Layout section:

Screenshot

This lets you quickly switch between three layouts:

  1. Fluid — music wraps to fit your screen (our “classic” approach)
  2. Horizontal — music never wraps, it just continues rightward forever
  3. Paged (new!) — music wraps to fit a set page width and preserves your chosen line breaks

Our default remains Fluid, though we might change this over time, based on feedback.

When music is in Paged layout, our zoom feature will not rewrap music. Instead, zooming works basically like a PDF:

Screenshot

This makes it less than ideal for use on small screens, but it’s certainly useful in other situations. Importantly, though Paged layout makes the music look like a PDF, you can still use Soundslice’s big features such as transposing, looping and playback.

Setting line breaks

So that’s Paged layout. But how do you actually control line breaks in Paged layout?

Our new help page goes into the details. The quick answer is: Our notation editor now lets you add/remove line breaks. It also lets you explicitly prevent a line break — for cases where you want the music to be a bit tighter than our normal spacing.

And for those of you using Soundslice with other notation programs, our MusicXML importer now imports line break data automatically.

Changes to the print version

Our print feature now uses Paged layout to determine how the music should be printed. So if your slice has line breaks, they’ll be honored when you print (as you’d expect).

Changes to our MusicXML exporter

Our MusicXML exporter now includes any line break information from your slice.

Specifying a default layout

Those of your embedding sheet music in our licensing plan now have the ability to specify a default layout. Use the new layout URL parameter, described here.

For everybody else, we don’t yet have a way to specify a slice’s default view; it’s always Fluid. If you have some feedback on this, we’d love to hear your specific needs.

Enjoy these new powers and let us know how it goes!

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

Shortcut tabs in the slice manager

In your slice manager, you’ll now see some handy filters at the top of the page:

Screenshot

This lets you quickly access the slices that you’ve marked as shareable, posted to your channel or marked as embeddable.

Yes, you can use it in tandem with the search — so you can search your slices for a keyword and then apply the filters.

Improved editor design

We’ve tweaked our editor’s design to add a visual “frame” around the music. Here’s the old design:

Screenshot

And here’s the new design:

Screenshot

The goal here was to create a clearer visual distinction between your music and the rest of the editor.

We’ve also made some other small visual improvements to the editor. The editor search box now looks more like a standard search box, to help communicate its function. And we tweaked the sidebar’s design to be a bit more consistent with the other parts of the editor.

Support for “common” and “cut time” time signatures

We now support “common time” and “cut time” glyphs for time signatures. You can create them in our editor, and we’ll automatically import them from MusicXML files. Read more in our help page.

Screenshot

Previously we automatically converted these to 4/4 or 2/2 upon import — equivalent but lacking that visual panache.

Improved synth sounds for piano and guitar

We got new synth sounds for the following:

  • Guitar: Acoustic nylon
  • Guitar: Electric clean
  • Guitar: Electric distorted
  • Guitar: Electric jazz
  • Guitar: Electric muted
  • Guitar: Electric overdriven
  • Guitar harmonics
  • Piano: Bright
  • Piano: Electric
  • Piano: Electric grand
  • Piano: Honky tonk
  • Piano: Standard

Of course, Soundslice is all about syncing sheet music with real recordings as opposed to relying on cheesy synth sounds, but synth playback is useful sometimes.

Improved video icons for touch devices

You know those icons that appear when you hover over a video on Soundslice? The ones that let you choose video quality, change position or flip the video side?

Previously these icons were only shown when you hovered your mouse cursor over the video — which meant people using smartphones and tablets couldn’t access them (because they don’t have a mouse!).

This is now fixed. On touchscreen devices, you’ll now see those icons at all times, except when the video is playing.

Fixed slice manager titles not to be truncated

When we launched our navigation redesign last month, user TastyGuitarLessons pointed out in the comments section that long slice titles were getting cut off in the slice manager. This is now fixed.

Is there a lesson here? Good things come to those who post comments to our blog? ;-)

Here are a bunch of improvements we’ve made recently:

Editor note dragging

In our editor, you can now drag notes up and down to quickly change their pitches.

Screenshot

Great for making quick edits, and great for beginners who haven’t yet mastered keyboard shortcuts.

Editor support for more ornaments

Our editor now supports four new ornament markings: turns, inverted turns, mordents and inverted mordents.

Screenshot

See more in our updated help page on ornaments.

Smarter transposition menu for non-C instruments

For slices whose instruments are all non-concert-pitch — such as, say, a saxophone etude — our player’s transposition feature now displays the key relative to the transposed instrument. Previously, we always displayed the key in concert pitch, which was unintuitive.

This is a nice quality-of-life improvement for saxophonists, clarinetists and other players of transposing instruments.

Better positioning of staff and tab staves

Previously, there were some situations (particularly with bass-clef music) where the tab lines were way too close to the staff lines, making the music hard to read. This was dreadful and is now fixed.

Improvements to ledger line display

We made some subtle improvements to the way ledger lines (and their respective notes) are displayed. Ledger lines are now a bit thicker, and we now automatically reduce the width of ledger lines to avoid accidentals.

Here’s a before-and-after:

Screenshot

The first note is a normal note, to show our normal ledger line width. The second note is our old rendering — note how the accidental touches the line. The third note is our new approach — we reduce the length of the line so that it doesn’t clash with the accidental. Subtle, but it makes it easier to read.

Fixed ugliness in currently selected notes

In our editor, we’ve fixed the styling of the currently highlighted note, to avoid ugliness with the note stem:

Screenshot

The note on the left uses our old styling. The note on the right uses our new styling. Can you see the improvement?

Fixed annoyance when switching voices while editing tab

In our editor, if you’re editing tab and you switch your currently active voice, we’ll now make sure your cursor stays on the same tab string. Previously we had an annoying “feature” where switching voices would always bump you to the top string.

Fixed Safari problem when switching between recordings

If you use the Safari web browser to view a slice with more than one non-YouTube video recording, and you try to switch recordings in the middle of playback, we’ll now properly retain your position in the music.

Previously we had a bug where switching the recording would move the playhead to the start of the slice (annoying and quite disruptive to a practice session!).

Made editor’s “View” mode more accurate

This is a deep cut, for people creating slices with video but without notation. Let me see whether I can explain it properly.

If you create a slice with video but without notation (or you’ve set “Hide notation” in the slice settings), then anybody viewing your slice will see the video full-screen. That’s always been the case. But if you opened our editor and toggled “View” mode, you wouldn’t properly see the full-screen video — this “View” mode didn’t accurately reflect what your users would actually see.

This is now fixed. Our editor’s “View” mode will 100% match what your students see, in the case of notationless slices. (For the vast majority of slices, it was already doing the right thing. So if you read the previous paragraph five times and still don’t get it, there’s nothing to worry about.)

Here’s a nice new feature for those of you using Soundslice to teach beginner musicians. You can now enable automatic display of pitch names directly above notation.

If you enable automatic pitch names, anybody viewing your slice will be able to toggle them via the “Show pitch names” checkbox in our player’s settings menu. Here’s what it looks like:

Screenshot

And here’s an example you can play with directly:

To enable automatic pitch names, edit your slice, open the slice details menu, go to the Teacher tab and set your preference:

Screenshot

You can specify whether the pitch names should be visible by default or whether the student can opt into them manually. By default, pitch names aren’t visible or toggleable.

Of course, if you make any changes to your music within our editor, the pitch names will instantly update. Everything’s automatic and in sync.

We’d been surprised to hear from teachers who had been adding pitch names to their music manually — a tedious and error-prone process. Sit back and let the computer do the work for you!

This feature is now available for anybody in the Teacher or Licensing plan. Enjoy!

Here’s what we’ve improved this week:

More intuitive editing of invisible notes

Previously, if a note or rest in your slice was marked as invisible, it was hard to figure out how to change that. Now, if you’ve selected that note, we’ll indicate its invisibility in our editor’s “Current” panel:

Screenshot

Click that icon to toggle note or rest invisibility.

We’ve also added an icon for “Toggle note visibility” directly to our editor’s Engraving menu. Previously this function was only available by searching for it in our editor’s search.

Screenshot

Smarter rendering of invisible notes

Previously, if all of the notes in a beam were marked as invisible, we still displayed the beam itself — which was a bit silly. We’ve fixed that.

Quick access to edit tempo markings

We’ve added tempo markings to our editor’s “Current” panel. If you’ve selected a note or rest that has a tempo marking above it, you’ll see the tempo marking icon up there:

Screenshot

Click that to quickly edit (or delete) the tempo marking.

More intuitive key signature editing for transposed instruments

If you edit the key signature for a transposed instrument such as a Bb clarinet, you now do that with respect to the transposed instrument. Previously, key signatures were always edited in concert pitch — which required you to do a mental calculation.

Hid message from Mixer if synth playback is disabled

Our player’s Mixer feature displays a special message if you have a real recording enabled:

Screenshot

However, it’s possible for a slice owner to disable synthetic playback — in which case that message is incorrect/confusing. We’ve fixed our player to hide that message if synthetic playback has been disabled.

Here’s the latest in our steady stream of improvements to how music is displayed on Soundslice. We now put staves much closer together, using vertical space more effectively and making it easier to read.

Previously, each staff had its own vertical area, and no other staff’s notes were allowed in that space. Here’s an example of our old behavior, in which I’ve manually added a dashed line to indicate our system’s internal “border” between the staves.

Screenshot

As you can see in these screenshots, this approach is too conservative. There’s way too much vertical whitespace there, and you can’t help but think, “Couldn’t that bottom staff just be moved up a bit?”

Now, our system no longer has that limitation. We’ve expanded our automatic collision detection algorithms to work across tracks, not just within tracks. (This is a follow-up to the large improvements we made in March.)

This particularly improves grand-staff piano music. Here are some before-and-after examples:

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Because Soundslice is web-based and draws its notation automatically based on your device, you don’t need to do anything to take advantage of these changes. If you’ve created slices, chances are they’ll look a bit better now. Just reload the page, and the new changes will take effect.

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.

Today we’ve made some big improvements to the way sheet music is displayed on Soundslice. The details are rather geeky, but the upshot is that music across our site should be easier to read and use space more efficiently.

Traditionally our system has used separate “margins” for various bits of notation. Things like chord names, tempo markings, directions and text have been positioned at the same vertical level — not necessarily close to the staff. Sometimes this approach worked well, other times it caused too much awkward whitespace.

Today’s improvements fix that. We’ve completely rewritten our positioning algorithms to be much more sophisticated.

The best way to demonstrate the improvements is by example. Here are several before-and-after screenshots:

Screenshot of notation

Screenshot of notation

Because Soundslice is web-based and draws its notation automatically based on your device, you don’t need to do anything to take advantage of these changes. If you’ve created slices, chances are they’ll look a bit better now. Just reload the page, and the new changes will take effect.

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