I’m a SoundSlice fanboy.
It’s impossibly good:
- easy to use,
- beautiful to behold,
- backed by fast & thorough customer service,
- owned & operated by folks committed to the open internet.
That said, the breadth of what it does isn’t immediately obvious.
Hence this lesson.
Workflows > Feature Tours
Feature tours can be exhausting, and it’s hard to remember much of what you saw.
Instead, let me show you some basic workflows that’ll bring you up to speed.
The key here: don’t just passively take this in.
Follow along and adjust the controls for yourself on the embedded SoundSlice player.
Most often, we’ll use the miniplayer:
(If you’re on iOS and not hearing sound, just flip this little switch to Ring Mode.)
The MiniPlayer is a small, lightweight way of explaining a musical idea.
Other times, you need more than the miniplayer can deliver.
If you want to…
- slow something down,
- loop a section,
- hear alternate audio,
- view a fretboard diagram,
- or if the miniplayer is simply too cramped for the example…
…simply click “View full version”
The Full Version
Here’s where the magic of SoundSlice becomes a little more obvious.
From the “full version” of each Slice, you can do some really slick things:
1. Navigate the Slice.
At your computer, start & stop playback with the spacebar. Return the cursor to the beginning by hitting Enter.
From your phone or tablet, tap the onscreen play/pause button. Tap in any measure to relocate the playhead.
Try it now:
2. Slow it down.
The pitch stays the same, it’s just slower.
Simply click these +/- buttons to adjust:
Go ahead, mess with it now, get a feel for it.
There are more options for speed, but we’ll come back to that a little later.
3. Access alternate recordings.
Sometimes I’ll put two different recordings in a slice. For example, the original recording AND the isolated guitar part.
As of this writing, I’ve made exactly two slices like this. (I Feel It Coming & Uptown Funk)
But there’s another option you’ll use more often: “Synthetic” audio.
Slow this down to 40%…
…and notice how warbly and unpleasant it gets.
That’s not a limitation of SoundSlice, that’s a limitation of digital audio.
And even at full speed, it can be a little tricky to pick out George’s guitar part from John’s (not to mention the contributions from Paul, Ringo, & Billy Preston).
My point is:
- If slowing a part down is making it unlistenable…
- …or if the part is buried in the mix…
- …just click Recording > Synthetic to hear artificial versions of the instruments.
4. Loop it.
This works like you think it does.
Click inside any bar, then click the loop icon.
You can combine it with the speed controls.
Doesn’t need to be one bar long either—you can loop smaller or larger phrases as you see fit.
You may also find it handy to hear a count-in beforehand.
If so, just go to the Settings icon > Play options > Play with count-in
The best way to get a feel for this is to make all these adjustments yourself. Go for it!
5. Add a metronome.
Speaking of the count-in, if you want to keep that cowbell going, just toggle the metronome on here:
If that metronome is too loud or too quiet, you can adjust its volume by clicking this little speaker icon:
If you’re looking at a Slice with multiple instruments, you can use this same mixer panel to adjust their relative volumes.
But don’t just read about it, mess with the controls yourself:
6. See it on a fretboard or keyboard.
If you learn best by watching others play, the fretboard & piano views are real handy:
7. Make it look the way you want.
Over here in the Settings panel, you’ll see Zoom Level and Layout.
I’ll attempt to describe it here, but it’s going to make way more sense if you just play around with the controls until you get a feel for it.
- Auto layout is the default—SoundSlice chooses the format based on your screen’s size. It selects from:
- Paged layout inserts line breaks to give a conventional printed look. Zooming works like a magnifying glass.
- Fluid layout works interactively with the Zoom Level slider to fit the Slice to the screen.
- Horizontal layout forces the Slice into a single layer, even if you’re zoomed way out.
Try each of those now:
While you’re there in the Settings panel, take a minute to play with these too:
Click each of these buttons to toggle all sorts of variations—tab only, notation only, tab with rhythm, chord names with or without grids, lyrics, etc.
Workflow #1: Practice Basics
Ok, so you’re on this blog, in the Making Theory Practical course, or reading the Riffs, Recs, Charts, & Smarts newsletter.
You click play on the miniplayer, and think to yourself I wanna try playing that.
- So you click “View full version,” and it opens in a new window.
- You take a crack at it, but it’s a little too hard. So you slow it down with the speed controls.
- On this second pass, you notice that it’s not ALL hard, it’s just hard in some spots. So you loop the lick, bar, or section to give yourself more chances.
- Maybe it’s better with a count-in, so you enable that.
- One measure is so tricky you have to slow it down A LOT. When you do, the audio gets all warbly. So you enable Synthetic audio.
- Some elements are cluttering up your view, so you dive into settings to make a few adjustments.
Congrats, you’re using SoundSlice like a boss.
But wait, there’s more!
Workflow #2: Speed Training
This super-slick feature lets you work a tricky passage up to tempo.
Click the speed %, then choose Speed Training:
From there, you can select your:
- starting tempo
- target tempo
- the size of the tempo bump
- how often it increases
- and whether or not you want a count in before each loop
Again, you’ll get a much better sense of how this works (and how awesome it is) if you play around with it yourself:
Workflow #3: Organizing Your Practice
Everything up to this point you can do without even creating a SoundSlice account.
If you sign up for their free plan, you can create your own transcriptions (that are sync’d to YouTube videos).
Up a tier from the free plan, the $5/mo “Plus Plan” is a great deal for anyone who’s even remotely serious about getting better.
It gets you a bunch of slick transcribing options (that I’m gonna save for a separate “Transcribing With SoundSlice” article).
But the Plus Plan features I’m most excited about all revolve around practicing.
1. Practice Lists
When you find a Slice you want to learn, simply click to add it to a list.
You can have as many Practice Lists as you want:
2. Track your streaks.
I’m a huge proponent of tracking your streaks, and SoundSlice makes it super easy:
3. Take notes.
“Keep a practice journal” is fairly standard advice.
IMO the best & easiest way to do that is to leave notes for Future You. Whatever it is you figured out while practicing today, jot it down so you don’t have to start from scratch next time.
Organizing a practice journal chronologically makes this difficult. Better to organize it by song so your notes are always available.
SoundSlice nails this with “Private Notes”:
This way all your notes are stored in the context of practicing each piece.
4. Save loops.
Every song, lick, riff, & solo has a “hardest part.”
Once we’ve identified it, we can loop that section, slow it down, use the speed trainer, etc.
But SoundSlice also lets you save loops:
Now it’ll switch to Focus Mode (displaying just the bars of that loop)…
…and be instantly available from the Practice menu of that Slice:
The Wrap Up
This isn’t a sponsored post or anything, I’m just a fan.
If I was still teaching one-on-one lessons in a shop, I would require every student to be on the Plus Plan.
If you’re even remotely serious about improving at your instrument, you should check it out too.
Thanks for reading,