Soundslice notation editor help

Here’s the documentation for Soundslice’s online notation/tab editor. The editor lets you make additions and changes to your slices directly within Soundslice. You can also use it to notate from scratch.

Quick start

The Soundslice notation editor is entirely web-based. There’s nothing to download or install.

To edit the notation/tablature for a slice, first make sure you’re logged in as the owner of the slice. View the slice and click “Edit” in the upper right, then open the notation editor using the “Notation editor” button at the top of the page.

When you open the editor, two things will change:

  • You’ll see the edit pane appear along the left of your slice.
  • In your notation, your playhead will turn into an orange circle. This represents the current selection.

To make edits, first select the beat(s) or note(s) you want to edit, then click the appropriate icon in the edit pane or use a keyboard shortcut.

Click the Save button at upper right to save your changes, or hit control+S. That’s it!

Selecting notes is easy. Here’s what you can do:

  • Click a note to select it.
  • Use the left/right arrows on your keyboard to move left/right across beats.
  • Use the up/down arrows on your keyboard to move up/down through the notes of the current beat (or strings, in case you’re in tablature).

To select multiple notes, hold Control (or Command on a Mac) as you click them. This is an efficient way to make changes to lots of notes at the same time.

To quickly select entire beats, do either of the following:

  • Click and drag across notation.
  • Hold Shift and use the left/right arrows on your keyboard. This selects all notes in the current beat, plus the previous or next beat.

Adding tracks

To add a track (you might also call this adding a part or adding an instrument):

  1. Open the editor’s “Tracks” menu.
  2. Click the “Add track” button.
  3. You’ll see a pop-up window with various options. The first few options are shortcuts for commonly used track types, such as “Guitar tab” and “Generic treble clef.” For more control over things such as clef, tuning and number of strings, select “Other...” and fill out the subsequent menu.

Entering notes

The process for entering notes is different for tablature vs. non-tablature staves.

If your cursor is in standard notation (i.e., not in tablature):

  1. Select the beat in which you want to add a note.
  2. To change the beat’s rhythmic value, use the plus key to make it shorter or the minus key to make it longer. You can also click the appropriate icon in the edit pane (e.g., a quarter note or eighth note).
  3. Type the pitch name — either A, B, C, D, E, F or G. Soundslice will add the note, in the octave closest to the previous beat. It’s diatonic according to the current key signature (so if you type F in the key signature of G, the note will get entered as an F sharp).
  4. To change the octave of the freshly added note, hit Control (or Command) and the up/down arrow.
  5. To add an accidental, use Shift+Control+9 for sharps, Shift+Control+7 for flats and Shift+Control+8 for naturals — or click the appropriate accidental icon in the edit pane.
  6. To add a note to the beat by pitch name (making a chord), hold Shift and type the pitch name.
  7. To add a note to the beat by interval (making a chord), hit a number key from 2 (second) to 8 (octave).
  8. The cursor will not auto-advance. You can quickly move across beats/notes using your keyboard’s arrow keys.

If your cursor is in tablature:

  1. Select the beat and string in which you want to add a note.
  2. To change the beat’s rhythmic value, use the plus key to make it shorter or the minus key to make it longer. You can also click the appropriate icon in the edit pane (e.g., a quarter note or eighth note).
  3. Type the fret number — a number from 0 to 36.
  4. Soundslice automatically figures out the pitch in the standard notation, based on the string tuning. If you’d like to change the enharmonics (e.g., changing B flat to A sharp), use Command+Alt+8 or click the “Toggle enharmonics” button in the edit pane.
  5. The cursor will not auto-advance. You can quickly move across strings and beats using your keyboard’s arrow keys.

Changing notes

To change a note’s rhythmic value — e.g., change it from a quarter note to an eighth note — select it and do one of the following:

  • In the edit pane’s Beat menu, click the appropriate note duration, from whole note to 32nd note.
  • Or, use the keyboard shortcuts: the plus key makes the selected beat duration shorter, and the minus key makes it longer.

To add or remove an augmentation dot, select the beat and hit the dot (aka “period” or “full stop”) key on your keyboard.

To change a pitch in a standard notation track:

  1. Select the note.
  2. Type the new pitch name (A through G).
  3. To change the octave, hit Control (or Command) and the up/down arrow.
  4. To add an accidental, use Shift+Control+9 for sharps, Shift+Control+7 for flats and Shift+Control+8 for naturals — or click the appropriate accidental icon in the edit pane.

To change a pitch in a tablature track, simply select the fret number in the tablature and type a new number.

Rhythmically stable bars

Our philosophy for the Soundslice notation editor is: we’re all consenting adults. We’ve been frustrated by how other notation editors are rhythmically brittle and unforgiving, requiring lots of hoop-jumping for relatively simple notation changes.

In contrast to other editors, we let you break the rules of music notation, gently pointing out any problems in a subtle way. This gives you “room to move,” so to speak. The best example of this philosophy is our approach to rhythmically stable bars.

For example, if your time signature is 4/4 and you need to temporarily fill a bar with five quarter notes before you reduce their rhythmic values, our editor will happily let you do that.

For any bar in your slice that doesn’t have a stable rhythmic width — e.g., a 4/4 bar with only three quarter notes — we color the staff lines red to indicate the rhythm isn’t stable. This coloring only happens during editing, not during viewing.

If your slice has a pick-up bar, in which the rhythmic width is less than the time signature, you can mark it as such with the “Mark as pickup bar” command (see the Command reference). This will tell Soundslice not to color the staff lines red in that bar, because the note rhythms deliberately don’t fill the allotted width.

Beaming

As you enter notation, the beaming is automatically adjusted based on the time signature.

To manually toggle beaming for a given beat, select it and click the “Beam to next note” icon in the edit panel — or just hit Command+B.

Percussion

Unpitched percussion tracks are a bit special. Certain editor features — such as accidentals and key signatures — are disabled for percussion, and other editor features become available.

To create a drum kit track (a percussion track with a five-line staff), add a track and select “Drum kit” as the type. On the subsequent screen, you can choose whether to enable drum tab for the track.

To enter notes in the staff, follow the same process described above.

In our synth playback, the percussion sound for a note depends on the note’s staff position and articulation(s). Our default sound mapping is the following:

Staff positionNotehead/articulationSound
B above staffChina cymbal
A above staffCrash cymbal
G above staffHi-hat closed
G above staffOpen circleHi-hat open
F lineRide cymbal
F lineDiamond noteheadRide bell
E spaceHigh tom
D lineHigh-mid tom
C spaceElectric snare drum
C spaceX noteheadSnare cross stick
C spaceDiamond noteheadSnare drum
B lineLow-mid tom
A spaceLow tom
G lineFloor tom 1
F spaceKick drum
E lineBass drum
D below staffHi-hat foot

Changing the percussion mapping

Given the diversity of percussion notation standards, different notation software interprets staff positions differently. For example, should the A line above the staff be a crash or splash cymbal?

If you create a percussion track from scratch in our editor, we’ll use the sound mapping described above on this page. (We’re planning to eventually give you the ability to create your own mappings.)

If you created a slice by importing from an existing notation file, then that file might have its own custom mapping. You can change this to the Soundslice default mapping as follows:

  • In the editor’s “Tracks” menu, click the name of your percussion track. That will take you to the “Change track” window.
  • Next to “Percussion mapping,” you’ll see which sound mapping we’re currently using for this track. If it’s “Soundslice drumkit,” then you’re using our default mapping (currently not changeable). If it’s “Custom (from imported file),” then you have the option to switch to “Soundslice drumkit” instead.
  • If you change the mapping and don’t like the new sounds, you can always hit control+Z to undo.

Drum tab

If you use drum tab, your track will have six lines of tablature below the standard notation. To notate, click on a tablature line and enter a number representing your the drum sound you want. These are General MIDI percussion sounds; if you’ve used drum tab before, you’ll be right at home. The numbers are:

NumberSound
27Laser
28Whip
29Scratch push
30Scratch pull
31Stick click
33Metronome click
34Metronome bell
35Bass drum
36Kick drum
37Snare cross stick
38Snare drum
39Hand clap
40Electric snare drum
41Floor tom 2
42Hi-hat closed
43Floor tom 1
44Hi-hat foot
45Low tom
46Hi-hat open
47Low-mid tom
48High-mid tom
49Crash cymbal
50High tom
51Ride cymbal
52China cymbal
53Ride bell
54Tambourine
55Splash cymbal
56Cowbell
57Crash cymbal
58Vibraslap
60High bongo
61Low bongo
62Conga dead stroke
63Conga
64Tumba
65High timbale
66Low timbale
67High agogo
68Low agogo
69Cabasa
70Maracas
71Whistle short
72Whistle long
73Guiro short
74Guiro long
75Claves
76High woodblock
77Low woodblock
78Cuica high
79Cuica low
80Triangle mute
81Triangle open
82Shaker
83Sleigh bell
84Bell tree
85Castanets
86Surdu dead stroke
87Surdu
91Snare drum rod
92Ocean drum
93Snare drum brush

It doesn’t matter which line you enter the drum tab on. This is purely up to you, so you can optimize for readability.

Command reference

In this section, we explain every button in every menu of the edit pane.

“Bar” menu

Adds a bar (measure) to the left of the currently selected bar.

Adds a bar (measure) to the right of the currently selected bar.

Deletes the currently selected bar.

Changes the clef for all bars from the current selection until the next clef change or end of the slice (whichever comes first). To make a clef change in the middle of a bar, just select the first note of the new clef.

Changes the time signature for the current bar. You’ll be asked whether to change it for all subsequent bars or only the current bar.

Changes the key signature for the current bar. You’ll be asked whether to change it for all subsequent bars or only the current bar.

Toggles a “Begin repeat” barline at the start of the current bar.

Toggles an “End repeat” barline at the end of the current bar. You’ll be asked how many times it should repeat; use “2” for a standard repeat.

Lets you specify the current bar is within an alternate ending.

Toggles the “pickup bar” designation for the selected bar. See Rhythmically stable bars for more.

Toggles a double barline at the end of the current bar.

Toggles a dashed barline at the start of the selected beat(s). This is typically used to clarify rhythmic groupings within a bar, for ease of reading.

Toggles a simile mark in the current bar. This symbol means the bar should simply repeat the music in the previous bar.

Lets you specify the start of a multi-bar rest symbol. First make sure the bars have been created and are empty; then select the first bar and click this button.

Sets a tempo marking, aka a metronome marking, including an optional text label (e.g., Andante).

Sets triplet feel, aka swing feel. There are several options, including swung eighths, swung sixteenths, and Scottish eighth notes.

Lets you specify directions such as Da Capo and D.C. al Fine in the current bar.

“Note basics” menu

Inserts a beat to the left of the currently selected beat.

Inserts a beat to the right of the currently selected beat.

Changes the selected beat(s) to whole notes/rests.

Changes the selected beat(s) to half notes/rests.

Changes the selected beat(s) to quarter notes/rests.

Changes the selected beat(s) to eighth notes/rests.

Changes the selected beat(s) to 16th notes/rests.

Changes the selected beat(s) to 32nd notes/rests. (Hint: for smaller note durations, use the plus key on your keyboard to continuing halving the duration.)

Toggles a single augmentation dot on the selected beat(s).

Toggles two augmentation dots on the selected beat(s).

Ties the selected note to the next beat. The next beat must have a note with this pitch (or, in case of tablature, it must have a note with the same string and fret).

Turns the selected beat(s) into a grace note, or vice versa.

Creates a triplet. This will “consume” all beats, starting with the currently selected beat, until it makes a valid triplet. If the selected beat is already in a tuplet, the tuplet will be removed.

Creates a tuplet with a rhythmic ratio of your choosing (e.g., “3 beats equals 2” is a triplet). As with the Triplet function, this will “consume” all beats, starting with the currently selected beat, until it makes a valid tuplet. If the selected beat is already in a tuplet, the tuplet will be removed.

Changes the selected note’s accidental to a sharp. (This is only available for non-tab tracks. For tab tracks, use “Toggle enharmonics.”)

Changes the selected note’s accidental to a flag. (This is only available for non-tab tracks. For tab tracks, use “Toggle enharmonics.”)

Changes the selected note’s accidental to a natural. (This is only available for non-tab tracks. For tab tracks, use “Toggle enharmonics.”)

Toggles the selected note’s enharmonics, through all possibilities that make musical sense — double-flat, flat, natural, sharp and double-sharp.

Toggles the presence or absence of a beam, from the selected beat to the next beat in the bar. Both beats must be eighth notes or smaller.

Flips the stem direction of the currently selected beat(s).

“Articulations” menu

Toggles a staccato mark on the selected note(s).

Toggles a staccatissimo mark on the selected note(s).

Toggles an accent mark on the selected note(s).

Toggles a heavy accent mark on the selected note(s).

Toggles a tenuto mark on the selected note(s).

Toggles a ghost note mark (parentheses) on the selected note(s).

Toggles an X notehead on the selected note(s).

Toggles a slash notehead on the selected note(s). If you’re toggling a slash notehead on, we also automatically change the notation as follows:

  • On chords (i.e., more than one note), we reduce the chord to a single note.
  • We change the note’s pitch to be on the middle staff line, with the current clef and transposition taken into account. You can change the pitch afterward (see Changing notes).
  • In tablature tracks, we remove the associated string and fret, hence making the corresponding tablature empty.

Toggles a tremolo mark on the selected beat(s). Several options are available.

Toggles a tremolo on the selected note. You can optionally enter the number of semitones to trill, or use 0 to specify an indefinite trill.

Toggles cue (smaller) noteheads on the selected note(s). For example, you can use this to specify cue notes or optionally played harmonies.

Hides the note’s stem. This is useful along with the “Slash notehead” feature if you’d like to have slash noteheads without stems.

Toggles an open circle mark on the selected note(s).

Toggles a plus mark on the selected note(s).

Toggles a plop on the selected note(s).

Toggles a scoop on the selected note(s).

Toggles a doit on the selected note(s).

Toggles a fall on the selected note(s).

Toggles a breath mark on the selected beat(s).

“More notations” menu

Toggles a dynamics mark on the selected beat(s). Several options are available.

Toggles an octave mark on the selected beat(s). Four options are available: 8va, 8vb, 15ma and 15ma.

Toggles a slur on the selected beats. Behavior differs based on your current selection:

  • If you’re selecting only a single beat, all of its slurs will be removed.
  • If you’re selecting multiple beats, a slur will be created. If a slur already exists for that set of beats, it will be removed. Note the beats must be contiguous/sequential to create a slur.

Toggles a fermata mark on the selected beat(s). Several options are available.

Sets the fingering for the selected note. This is the standard fingering option to use for piano.

Sets the right-hand fingering for the selected note. This is used for guitar (e.g., p, m or a).

Toggles an upward arpeggio mark on the selected beat(s).

Toggles a downward arpeggio mark on the selected beat(s).

Toggles a downward bow/pick mark on the selected beat(s).

Toggles an upward bow/pick mark on the selected beat(s).

“Voices” menu

Adds another voice in the current bar.

Deletes the currently selected voice in the current bar.

Switches the currently selected voice.

“Tablature” menu

Toggles “Let ring” on the selected beat(s).

Toggles palm muting (“P.M.”) on the selected beat(s).

Toggles a hammer-on/pull-off starting with the currently selected note(s). The next beat must contain a note on the selected note’s string.

Toggles a slide to the next note, starting with the currently selected note(s). The next beat must contain a note on the selected note’s string.

Toggles a “slide down into note” mark on the selected note(s).

Toggles a “slide up into note” mark on the selected note(s).

Toggles a “slide down from note” mark on the selected note(s).

Toggles a “slide up from note” mark on the selected note(s).

Toggles a “left-hand tap” mark on the selected note(s).

Toggles a “pull-off to nowhere” mark on the selected note(s).

Sets a bend for the selected note. You specify the type of bend — bend, bend/release, prebend, prebend/bend, prebend/release or hold — and the amount of the bend. To make complex bends, use multiple beats, tied together, and give each beat its own bend information.

Toggles a vibrato mark on the selected beat(s).

Toggles a right-hand tap mark (“T”) on the selected beat(s).

Toggles a pop mark (“P”) on the selected beat(s).

Toggles a slap mark (“S”) on the selected beat(s).

Toggles natural harmonics on the selected note(s).

Toggles a “brush upward” arrow on the selected beat(s). This is useful to explicitly mark strumming patterns.

Toggles a “brush downward” arrow on the selected beat(s). This is useful to explicitly mark strumming patterns.

“Text” menu

Lets you enter text to be displayed above the selected beat.

Lets you enter text to be displayed below the selected beat.

Lets you enter a section label, displayed above the selected beat.

Lets you enter a section letter, aka a rehearsal mark, displayed with a rectangular border above the selected beat.

Lets you enter a chord name and/or fretboard diagram at the selected beat.

Lets you enter lyrics at the selected beat. We support an unlimited number of lines of lyrics; simply use your Enter key to put each lyric on a new line as needed.

Lets you enter the commentary bar label for the selected bar. See this blog post for more information on commentary bars.

Sets a Roman numeral position mark on the selected beat. You specify the number; this indicates which position the music should be played in, for instruments such as violin or guitar.

“Tracks” menu

This menu lists all the tracks in your current slice. Click a track name to access a menu where you can do the following:

  • Rename the track
  • Change the track’s synthetic instrument sound
  • Change the track’s instrument transposition
  • Set “Enable piano keyboard visualization,” which makes available a piano keyboard in the visualizations menu
  • Set “Enable violin visualization,” which makes available a violin fingerboard in the visualizations menu

Click-and-drag the dotted icon to the right of a track name to reorder tracks.

At the bottom of the track list, click “Add track” to add a new track.

“Version history” menu

This menu shows you all the versions of your slice. We create a new version each time you hit the Save button in the editor or upload/replace a notation file (e.g., MusicXML).

Simply click a version to view the notation at that point in time. Then you can immediately begin editing it — if you want to use it as a new starting point — or return to the latest version.

This can be useful if you want to revert a mistake, restore some older ideas or simply want to see how your slice’s notation has evolved over time.

Version history is available for all Soundslice users with the Plus plan or higher. If you’re on the free plan, you can see the version history but can’t select a previous version.

“Other tools” menu

Lets you upload a notation file, hence replacing the notation in your slice. We support MusicXML, Guitar Pro, PowerTab and TuxGuitar formats.

Get help

Questions? Problems? Feedback? Get in touch any time! We’d love to hear from you.