Missing flats, sharps on wrong notes 10.4 and preview?

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Postby XZF » 06-23-18 3:40 am

Synthesia 10.3 shows flat and sharp signs on wrong notes appearing (in gray) in the staff. In 10.4 and the developer preview, the wrong notes are shown in red and at least on my system (MacBook Pro 2011, MacOS 10.13.4) I don't see the flats and sharps. Is this a new feature? :) (I hope not)
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Postby Nicholas » 06-23-18 4:05 am

This actually flew under my radar. Thanks for the reminder!

Since 10.3, the sheet music has been in kind of a transitional stage. We've been working on Synthesia 11 (which is all about the sheet music), but have had to release a couple bug-fix updates (10.4 and the upcoming 10.5) in the meantime. It's actually worked out pretty well to roll out some of the early sheet music work in those updates. That said, one or two things have made it out that weren't completely at parity with the old stuff.

Now that the notation rendering engine is doing things in a more principled way, it's interesting to think about bringing back the missed-note accidentals. I suppose the easiest answer is to just do it the way it was done before: a simple graphical overlay on top of the rest of the notation with no regard for what is underneath. One of the big changes to correctly-matched notes now is that both the note head (quarter, half, whole) and its position will be matched with the actual note on the sheet music. This will be especially nice as we add support for notes tied between measures and the entire chain of note heads light up in green.

I wonder if the red, incorrect note indicator shouldn't try to fit (or "stack") its accidental in the available nearby space. Without re-flowing the rest of the notation, it's probably not worth attempting it. The whole point is to only leave the "right" amount of space. And in most accidental-free situations, trying to fit an accidental in the cracks would be tricky. Hmm.

Trying to get down to the root cause of why the accidental is helpful, I suppose it's the case where you're supposed to play a (part of the key signature) C# but instead you played a C. Right now you see a red note head right on the note you're supposed to play, which ends up being confusing. The old solution was to show a red note head with a red natural sign on top of the note you're supposed to play. Here, the natural sign was the real indicator.

Maybe a different glyph is in order. Instead of a stemless note head, perhaps something like an 'X' (not unlike the percussion note head) could be used instead. Then the absence of the accidental would make more sense. Would that be better?
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Postby XZF » 06-23-18 2:09 pm

... Thank you for the thoughtful comment!

IMO (but of course I look at it in a much more superficial way), wrong-notes are transient and reflowing the static sheet music [even locally] to display them is inappropriate.

What matters is conveying correct information. Omitting accidentals leads to the display of incorrect feedback [the red glyph looks like it represents a note; it is not just a red semaphore that flashes somewhere without purporting to tell exactly what went wrong].

If we accept these two premises, "a simple graphical overlay on top of the rest of the notation with no regard for what is underneath" looks like the best approach, both reasonable and practicable. If accidentals are a part of a transient overlay, trying to fit them into any whitespace is not a relevant concern.

I do not see a need for a new glyph shape; what is played is a regular old note, it's just incorrect. A new glyph suggests that something entirely different was done (indeed, like emitting a percussion signal). I can imagine using two new versions of the same note-body glyph to convey the accidental information (e.g. a half-filled note body glyph, top or bottom filled for a sharp and flat, respectively) but this is inventing new notation. The advantage is that nothing is obscured by an accidental though.

In any case, to me the omission of accidentals feels wrong (and is annoying enough that I went back to 10.3 despite useful improvements in 10.4 et seq, such as adjustable size of the music-notation section), and a transient overlay (like in 10.3, presumably, but in red) with the note body vertically aligned with the intended note, would look perfect.
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Postby Nicholas » 06-23-18 4:12 pm

Those are all strong points. You've swayed me. :D

We'll get the accidental back in there. (I think my natural inclination before to go with something simpler was because showing the accidentals takes a little more work. Not only does it mean pulling the current key signature at that point in the song through, but using it to pick the right note spelling through all five of the common symbols -- from double-flat to double-sharp -- all vs. just drawing an X or whatever.) :lol:
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Postby XZF » 06-23-18 5:02 pm

Thank you! That will be great. I very much appreciate the effort (I can certainly see this sort of feature being more complex to actually implement than it appears just looking at a single trivial case)
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Postby XZF » 06-26-18 11:36 am

... actually, one minor further comment. Just want to make sure I expressed the question clearly... This is prompted by your mentioning the need to pull the key signature.

For the purposes of displaying the wrong note, I think the accidentals should just be "absolute" (i.e. always shown as a flat or a sharp, configurable perhaps), aiming only to unambiguously identify the wrongly played key. Now it would definitely be a valid approach to try to show the wrong note relative (to the extent possible) to the intended note, but that is more complex and might not actually be any more helpful. Thanks.
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Postby jimhenry » 06-26-18 2:29 pm

XZF makes a good point. When you play a wrong note, it probably isn't really in the key you are playing in. Even if it is in key, it still isn't a right note. Trying to notate a wrong note "correctly" is rather pointless. All that needs to be conveyed is "this is what you did and it was wrong" without obscuring what you should have done. I hope we haven't lost sight of right note wrong duration, slightly early, or slightly late in all this. Would it make sense to just highlight notes that were not played correctly and provide popup balloons with the information about what you did wrong? I think a lot of times I'd already know what I did wrong and a quick reminder of where the trouble spots are is all I'd want.
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Postby Nicholas » 06-26-18 4:18 pm

The irony here is that when I took a look at this last night, the key signature / note-spelling information was already exactly where it needed to be and I was able to (re-)add the accidental glyph in something like three lines of code. :lol:

(The place where using a note spelling relative to the current key is really helpful is when the accidental that needs to be shown is a natural! Otherwise you'd be right back in the same boat as today where the red note-head is exactly on top of the note you should be playing and there isn't any indication what you're doing wrong.)

jimhenry wrote:... and a quick reminder of where the trouble spots are is all I'd want.

This is what Synthesia 12 is all about. In addition to more sensible, measure-based progress tracking, my goal is to include a lot more visibility into those sorts of things. This includes being able to review/play-back your performances!
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Postby XZF » 06-29-18 1:05 pm

Nicholas - This sounds really great! Excellent point on displaying naturals. Otherwise it would indeed be at least momentarily confusing (the "principle of least surprise", a great general philosophy).

Question: is the mod already in the downloadable developers' preview? Thanks.

Longer term, looking forward to Synthesia 12 :) The post-mortem capability will be a very civilized thing to have. A serious tool. All the good stuff jimhenry is talking about, and more.
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Postby Nicholas » 07-04-18 1:28 am

It'll be in the next 10.5 preview. (No ETA on that one yet, but it shouldn't be too far off.)
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Postby XZF » 07-06-18 1:25 pm

OK, understood. I thought it was more like a nightly build.
Is there a way to subscribe to be notified when new developer previews become available?
Thanks!
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Postby Nicholas » 07-06-18 1:37 pm

This is the right news feed: feed.php?mode=news

It updates once every dev preview. The most-recent three posts were April-2017 and then January and May of this year. It is... low-volume. :lol:
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Postby XZF » 07-09-18 12:03 pm

Sounds good. Thanks!
Looking forward to the next release.
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