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Posts tagged with “Notation/tab rendering”

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:

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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:

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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.

Here’s a powerful new feature for those of you creating slices. We call it “passages.”

It’s a way for you to tell Soundslice that a specific bar in your slice starts a new musical idea — a new passage. With this information, our engine will optimize the visual layout accordingly, making it look better and easier to follow.

Historically, Soundslice has used responsive notation — automatically determining layout from the width of your screen and your current zoom level. This is generally nice, especially on tablets and smartphones, but it also means that line breaks can happen in inconvenient places, making the music harder to read than it needs to be.

For example, consider a slice that consists of three scales. At a certain screen width and zoom level, it might appear like this:

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It’s slightly awkward that the melodic minor scale gets split over two staves while the other scales don’t. :-/

Passages to the rescue. Using our notation editor’s new passage feature, you can mark each of those scales as a separate passage. That results in the following:

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Much clearer and easier to follow! If you’d like to compare for yourself, here are two live examples: without passages and with passages.

When you mark a bar as “starts new passage,” here’s specifically what changes in your slice:

  • The bar will always start on a new line, regardless of screen width or zoom settings. Any other bars in the passage will be continue to be positioned responsively.
  • The key signature, time signature and clef are displayed.
  • Bar numbering is reset to 1. (You can override this in our editor by setting an explicit bar number.)
  • The previous bar gets an final barline. (You can override this in our editor by setting it to a double barline instead.)

Of course, our player also offers a horizontal mode, in which case line breaks wouldn’t make sense. So in horizontal mode, new passages are offset by whitespace. You can see that here:

(Have ideas about other things we can do for new passages? Let us know in the comments below.)

With all of that said, how do you actually use this feature in your slices? In our notation editor’s Bar menu, look for the new “Toggle new passage” button:

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This will tell Soundslice to treat your selected bar as a new passage (or toggle it off, if it already starts a passage). Easy!

We hope you enjoy this new feature.

Here’s a roundup of some small improvements we’ve made recently.

General improvements to our site:

  • Videos can now go down to 25 percent speed, instead of 50. Hooray!
  • As you browse the timeline of slices from people you follow, if you press play on one of the slices, we’ll now stop playback for any other slices that are playing on the page.
  • Our violin fingerboard visualization can now be active for tracks whose notation is hidden.
  • Tenuto markings are positioned better in our notation. They’re now rendered within staff lines if appropriate.

Improvements to our notation editor:

  • When you drag to select notes, we used to display a box with a dashed border. We’ve removed this, as it was unnecessary and kind of ugly.
  • When you drag to select notes, you’ll no longer occasionally run into a weird bug where multiple things are selected despite you not selecting them.
  • When you’re adding notes on a staff line that has a currently active accidental, we’ll now assume you want to continue that accidental. Previously a newly added note would always use a natural if the key signature didn’t affect the note.
  • Slices can end in double barlines. We’ll now detect that when importing MusicXML, and we’ve improved our notation editor to allow this. (Previously we disallowed it for no good reason.)

We’ve made two improvements to the way we display slides in tablature — that is, slides from one note to the next, as done on a guitar.

First, we now draw a slur over slides in tablature. This makes slides easier to read at a glance, it’s consistent with how we treat hammer-ons and pull-offs, and it brings our behavior in line with what people expect from other tab programs.

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Note we were already displaying slurs over slides in standard notation. Today’s change makes the tab consistent with the notation.

Second, we’ve added support for a second type of slide: one that doesn’t use a slur. Our notation editor now lets you create both of these types of slides. (Previously it only let you create slides with slurs.)

Slides with slurs are called legato slides, and slides without slurs are called shift slides. From the musician’s perspective, a legato slide is one where the string is not plucked again after the slide. A shift slide is where you do indeed pluck the string after the slide.

Here’s what the buttons look like in our editor:

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Finally, here’s how we’re handling all existing slides on Soundslice:

  • If you originally created the slide in our editor, it will be a legato slide.
  • If you originally created the slide in an uploaded Guitar Pro or PowerTab file, it will be either a legato or shift slide, depending on what you used in that original file.
  • If you originally created the slide in an uploaded MusicXML or TuxGuitar file, it will be a legato slide.

If you’d like to tweak the slides in any of your slices, it’s super easy — just open our editor, select the note and hit the appropriate slide button in our editor panel.

You can finally add and remove hairpins — aka crescendo or decrescendo markings — in the Soundslice notation editor.

Previously, we only supported hairpins if you happened to import a MusicXML file that already had them defined. Now, you can create and remove them directly within our editor.

Use these two new buttons in our editor’s “More notations” menu:

Screenshot

To create a hairpin, select a bunch of notes and click the appropriate button to specify a crescendo or decrescendo. That’s it!

Bonus

While we were at it, we improved the way we display hairpins. If a hairpin is split across multiple staves, then we’ll now make sure that the hairpin isn’t fully closed at the stave break. Here’s a before-and-after:

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It’s subtle change that communicates the intent of the hairpin more clearly.

Over the past month, we’ve rolled out several improvements to how our music looks — plus some new functionality in our notation editor. Here’s an overview.

Slur positions

Our system has always used built-in rules to determine whether slurs should be displayed above or below a staff.

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Now, you can manually override our automatic positioning. Use the new “Toggle slur side” button in our notation editor.

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You can also assign a custom keyboard shortcut for this, if you’d like.

Relatedly, we now preserve the slur position for any music you import from MusicXML files going forward. (Previously, we ignored that information.)

Better accidental positioning with multiple voices

Previously, in music with multiple voices, our rendering engine was quite naive about accidentals, resulting in ugly clashes like this:

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Now, we take multiple voices into account when positioning accidentals, to ensure they don’t collide:

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Much better!

On a similar note, our rendering engine is now smarter about whether an accidental is strictly necessary in a multiple-voice context.

In this example, the second A♭ isn’t necessary, because it’s already been made active by the first note in the bar:

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That’s how we used to render it, because our algorithm for accidentals didn’t properly take multiple voices into account. Now, we do the right thing and hide that second accidental:

Screenshot

Of course, you can still manually display the accidental if you’d like. Which brings us to...

Forced accidentals

Previously, our system would only display an accidental if it was absolutely necessary, or if you specified a cautionary accidental within parentheses. Now, you have the ability to force the display of any accidental.

To do this, just highlight the note in our notation editor and click one of the accidental buttons.

In addition, we’ll now detect forced accidentals for any music you import from MusicXML going forward.

Cautionary time signatures

We now display a cautionary time signature at the end of a stave, if the first bar in the next stave has a different time signature:

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Note that our system lays out notation according to your device’s screen size and your current zoom level — so cautionary time signatures will appear automatically when the situation presents itself.

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.

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.

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