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Posts tagged with “Notation/tab rendering”

Here’s what we’ve launched and tweaked recently. There’s something for everybody in here!

Improved editor touchscreen interface

Since launching a touchscreen editing interface last month, we’ve gotten good feedback from musicians actually using it. We’re following up with some improvements directly based on that. Can you spot the differences in this new screenshot?

Screenshot

First, we’ve made the piano keys function as a toggle. If a note is selected and already exists in your notation, you can tap it in the piano keyboard (or fretboard) to remove the note. This feels really intuitive and was suggested by a few users.

Second, we added an “Auto-advance” button. Click that to enable auto-advance mode, which will automatically advance the cursor each time you enter a note. Handy for quick entry of single-note lines.

Third, we removed chord mode. It no longer felt necessary due to the previous two changes.

Fourth, we removed the up/down arrow buttons, to make the interface less cluttered. Those arrows weren’t really useful, as you can simply tap on the keyboard or fretboard to select another note in the current beat.

All of this is covered in more detail in our updated help page. Thanks to the folks who sent us feedback to help guide these changes!

“Pending” students in private courses

This one’s for people in the Teacher plan.

Previously, on the “Manage students” page for a private course, you could add students via email address — but it required the email address to already exist in our system. If you tried to add an email that didn’t yet have a Soundslice account, you’d see an error message.

Now, if you add an email address that doesn’t have a Soundslice account, no problem. The student will be marked as “Pending,” and we’ll send them an email inviting them to your course. As soon as they create their free Soundslice account, they’ll get access to your course. Smooth!

Improvements to student management

Another thing for Teacher plan customers: we’ve made the student management page more useful.

First, we added a dedicated page for each of your students, listing all of the private courses they’re in, plus all of the slices you’ve shared with them personally. (See our separate blog post about the new individual sharing feature.)

Second, we added a way to remove students directly via your students page. This is much faster than removing the student from each individual course or slice.

See the updated help page for more info.

Slice manager redesign

We’ve updated the visual design of the slice manager — the page where we list all of the slices you’ve created.

The new design has explicit links for “Edit” and “Practice.” We’d found that some people thought it was only possible to open slices in edit mode — with all of the editor tools taking up valuable screen space — so we’ve provided clear, separate links to both views now:

Screenshot

To help guide your eyes to the right place, we’ve redesigned the slice and folder icons to be more subtle, and to add more color to the page.

We’ve also tweaked the filters at the top of your slice manager:

Screenshot

The “Shared privately” filter is brand new. It lets you quickly find all of your slices that you’ve shared privately — either in a private course or with individual people.

The “Secret link enabled” filter is also new, but in name only. This filter used to be called “Shareable,” but that turned out to be a confusing name, given we now support private sharing with individual people — a totally different thing. Hence the new name: secret links.

And regarding secret links, we’ve also changed our editor to use this term, in the slice privacy settings menu. The menu now looks like this:

Screenshot

“Add to course” is now “Share privately,” as the sharing options in that menu option have expanded.

More natural playhead behavior

This one is subtle, but it affects anybody and everybody using our player. We’ve changed our playhead’s behavior at the start of a bar.

Previously, our playback engine treated the barline as the start of the bar. This meant that, during playback, the playhead would touch the barline at the exact moment that the bar’s audio began:

Animation

However, this meant we had an inconsistency. For the first note in a bar, the playhead wouldn’t visually touch the notehead until a split second after the note’s audio. This was especially noticeable at slow tempos and in cases where a bar’s first note had an accidental (hence pushing the note even farther from the barline). For super-duper-beginner students, who rely heavily on the playhead position to know when a note is played, this caused confusion.

Hence, we’ve changed our playhead positioning so that this is no longer an issue. The Soundslice playhead will now always intersect with a notehead at the exact moment that note is played in the audio — even for the first note in a bar:

Animation

Various fixes

Some other fixes we’ve made recently, in no particular order:

  • Improved automatic positioning of fingering numbers to avoid clashing with ties.
  • For people selling courses: We’ve added a convenient link to your sales stats from the edit-course page.
  • In slices with triplet feel, when dragging across the notation to make a loop, the loop background was sometimes off by a few pixels. That’s now fixed.
  • In our notation editor, we redesigned the sidebar to make the buttons larger on smaller-screen devices such as tablets.
  • In our notation editor, if you hit the Enter key while editing text, you’d be taken to the start of the slice — due to a conflict with our default keyboard shortcut “Hit Enter to go to the start of the audio.” That’s now fixed.
  • In our notation editor, if you deleted the last rest in a bar and had tablature selected, your selection would move to the staff. The selection now stays in the tab. This was particularly apparent in our touchscreen interface, which changes dramatically if you have staff vs. tab selected.
  • In our notation editor, sometimes tuplet numbers and brackets weren’t rendered when creating the initial track in a new slice. That’s now fixed.
  • Our player’s transposition feature helpfully displays the slice’s original, pre-transposition key, but it naively took the key signature from the slice’s very first bar — meaning slices starting with commentary bars always displayed the key of C. That’s now fixed.
  • When you share your slice on LinkedIn, it’ll now bring in the proper title.
  • When using non-YouTube videos in our player, looping is a bit more precise now. Previously we would pause the video for a split second after each loop iteration. We’ve removed that pause. The video looping is still not as precise as MP3 looping due to the realities of Internet video (see here for comparisons), but it’s a bit better than it was before.
  • We made some subtle improvements to our visual keyboard. If consecutive white keys are highlighted, we now make sure to retain a visual border between the keys. Previously the highlighted color bled across the keys, making the distinction between keys hard to see.
  • We’ve decreased the stem length of grace notes in our rendering engine. Previously they always used a uniform length; now their default length is shorter, and they’re even shorter still for beamed notes. This results in a tighter and nicer look.

Here are various improvements we’ve made to Soundslice over the last month or so.

New “Add recording” screen

Screenshot

We redesigned our editor’s “Add recording” screen. It now has a nicer design and gives more appropriate weight/context for the various options.

New sidebar toggle design

Screenshot

We redesigned the little arrow button that lets you toggle the sidebar when viewing a slice. Previously, when the sidebar was closed, the arrow would jump all the way to the bottom of the page. Now it’s in a more consistent and obvious location.

Clickable instrument names

Screenshot

Those instrument names at the left of your music? They’re now clickable. If you click them, we’ll open the Settings menu and highlight where you can change visibility.

Better default beaming

Screenshot

We changed our default beaming for 4/4 time. Previously, beams would break on each beat; now they only break at the middle of the bar. Thanks to YouTube sensation Rick Beato for the suggestion.

Grace notes without slashes

Screenshot

Our editor now lets you create grace notes that don’t have a slash through their stem (appoggiaturas). Previously we only supported grace notes with a slash. We’ve also improved our MusicXML importer to detect this for all files uploaded from now on.

Use our handy editor search to find this feature.

Descriptions in course slices

When viewing a slice in a course, we now display the slice’s description (if available) in the left sidebar. Previously the description was only displayed on the main course page. It’s much nicer to have access to that when viewing the slice!

We’ve added the ability to color notes in the slices you create. This is nice for visually highlighting certain passages or helping beginners learn to read music.

Screenshot

Setting colors is easy. Just use our editor to select a bunch of notes, then open the color panel in the “Engraving” section:

Screenshot

For those of you using other notation software, we’re upgraded our MusicXML importer to import notehead colors as well.

For lots more information, see our new help page about colors. Enjoy!

Note that this feature is limited to people in a paid plan.

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.

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