"Notes Outside My Range" per song setting

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Posts: 32

Post by eFse7en » 06-18-17 9:16 am

In addition to the global setting on what to do with "Notes Outside My Range" -> "Play Them For Me" or "Move Them Inside My Keyboard's Range",
I would like to be able to set this setting per individual songs and change this without having to navigate through multiple screens.
The reason behind this is that for some songs I want to have them moved inside my range, and for others it doesn't work that well, so I want to either switch octave input and play them myself, or have Synthesia play them for me.

Since it's probably not that common request, I'm not sure if adding another button at the top during song practice is the good idea. But a setting could be done on one of other Song related screens - either before deciding which part/mode to play or on the instruments configuration screen.

You could add a 3 value setting:
"Notes Outside My Range":
• Default setting ({default setting value})
o "Play Them For Me"
o "Move Them Inside My Keyboard's Range"

Posts: 12435

Post by Nicholas » 06-23-17 11:46 pm

eFse7en wrote:Since it's probably not that common request, I'm not sure if adding another button at the top during song practice is the good idea.
I worry you may be correct. The configuration screens are about as heavy as they can bear at this point before the complexity starts to spiral out of control. The more song-specific settings we've added in the past, the more they tended to confuse or frustrate users when the next song they played didn't behave the same way. (This is why over the last few years we've actually pulled a few of those things up to the global level.)

Sometime during the Synthesia 12 development cycle we're actually hoping to reduce the complexity of the song setup screens a bit more to the point where the "Hands, Colors, and Instruments" screen can be merged with the one before that. (The simplification that's going to allow that is being able to choose/change your hand during play. Then you just need to pick between Watch, Melody, Rhythm, and Recital. 9+2 buttons turn into 4 and consume a lot less space.)

Posts: 12435

Post by Nicholas » 07-24-17 2:37 am

Since this just coincidentally came up a month ago, I'll discuss it here:

There is a point coming up in Synthesia 11's development where we'll be improving the display and interactivity of the sheet music so that it can stand on its own without the falling notes. In particular, the next preview will be adding a feature where you'll be able to hide the falling notes completely and rely on full-screen, multi-line sheet music. So being able to do things like adjust loops or create bookmarks will need to be possible from the sheet view.

This presents a challenge for the "Move Them Inside My Keyboard's Range" option. Today that feature is only communicated in the falling note area. To do the same in the sheet music would mean moving those note heads around to match your keyboard's range. If the range couldn't be changed, that would be fine, but you can press Z or X at any time to adjust your input octave. Needing to regenerate sheet music based on user input is something I'd like to avoid. In this instance (purely vertical moves), it can't break anything too horribly (like pushing a measure onto the next line). But, regenerating/redrawing is what I would describe as a "heavy" operation in Synthesia 11: running across several frames and forcing a fade-in-from-white of the new line once it's complete.

This leaves a couple choices:
  1. Leave the option alone, shimmy note heads around in the sheet based on your keyboard range (which requires even more finesse for songs in the MusicXML format), and force a full sheet redraw each time Z or X is pressed: Lots of work and a poor user experience.
  2. Leave the option alone, continue to have misleading ("correct") sheet shown at all times regardless of your input range which will confuse full-screen sheet users: No work and a poor user experience.
  3. Remove the option (always "Play Them For Me" instead), sheet music is always correct: Negative work (see below) and only the users that actually used "Move them inside my keyboard's range" are negatively affected.
Decisions like these are very challenging! Removing anything (options/compatibility/etc.) always makes someone angry. The only good reason I ever have for removing something is when it becomes too large a burden for our tiny/lean development team. Removing the option actually saves work in the long run. This particular one has always been a source of bugs and weird behavior over the years. Each time a new feature is added someone always seems to find that it doesn't work with "Move them inside..." and we have to go back and fix it. (Looking at the code just now, that option is referenced in 20+ different places which is a little creepy.)

In summary: #3 prevents a bunch of new work, saves ongoing maintenance work, reduces option/config/menu complexity, keeps the user experience for sheet-only users as good as it's going to get, and only impacts the small subset of users that were actually using it. Add the complete lack of any real pedagogical basis for the option existing in the first place and it starts to feel like a pretty strong case. Despite my reservations, it seems like #3 is the best of the three choices. Unfortunately, that means making people unhappy. :?

What do you think?

(Incidentally, for a same sheet regeneration/drawing reason, I think I'm going to keep finger hint assignments a falling-note only interface. Not only are note heads a lot harder to click/tap, but each time you change a hint the actual music you're interacting with will be changing under your mouse/finger as the hint numbers are added/removed from the sheet music! Adding a message along the lines of "enable falling notes to edit finger hints" feels like a small concession for that case.)

Posts: 32

Post by eFse7en » 07-24-17 4:49 am


As a falling note users, I'm not planning to use sheet music, as for me the falling notes are much faster to read. Therefore I would like to avoid the situation where new functionality I will not use is limiting the current functionalities.

But, actually after I had switched from 2,5 octave to 5 octave midi controller, I have no longer found any situation where I wanted to use "Move notes inside my range" functionality. If the song was not suitable for 5 octaves I was mostly using external editor to make it work for 5 octaves. I still use sometimes the "Play Them For Me" functionality for few notes that are outside the 5 octave range, so that is still handy.

So I'm fine with either solution. But it would be good to ask if there is still anyone who is using this functionality and if they wouldn't prefer to switch from dynamically moving notes by Synthesia to editing the midi file in the first place with external program. Maybe adding links to free midi players to FAQ would help in such case.

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