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Posts tagged with “Notation/tab rendering”

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:


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:


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:


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.


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:


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:


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.


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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.


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:


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:


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


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:


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

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