Farewell to the “Sign in with Microsoft” option on music4dance

Microsoft has moved to a new sign-in protocol and our current system for signing in with a Microsoft account started failing.  I looked into switching over to the new protocol and it seems like a few hours of work.  But given that I only have a few hours a week to devote to music4dance that’s really a week’s worth of work.  Since I have very few customers that use this login method and the main reason for supporting this method was for Xbox Music AKA Groove Music integration which has already been deprecated, I’ve notified those individuals with a work-around and am turning off this feature.

If you believe that this is an indispensable feature, please provide feedback and I’ll consider re-implementing it.  If you have issues logging in with any other method please file a bug and I will do my best to address it.

Music for Dance Through the Decades

One of the ways that I like to search for music is by era.  At least as far as twentieth century American music goes, this tends to be categorized by decade.

Early on, I tried some experiments around pulling publication date for a song to help with this kind of search.  But the sources I had generally listed release date as whatever the most recent release of the song was, which was often on a compilation album and had nothing to do with when the song was first published.  Even more importantly, when we think of music associated with a particular decade it’s a very loose definition and involves a judgement call about style as much as any technicality around original the release date.

But since I’ve been grabbing information from a bunch of different places and a few of them have been tagging music by decade, I’ve got a decent catalog of songs that have decade tags.  You can take a look by going to the tags page and clicking on any of the decades like the 1970s  or 2000s

If you’re interested in finding songs for a particular dance style from a specific decade, that’s exactly what the Advanced Search functionality is for.  You can go to the form, choose Rumba from the “dance style” chooser and go to the “Other” tags under “Include Tags”  (the brown pencil).  Choose 1980s from the list of tags and click include.  Then click search, and you will get a list of songs from the 80’s that you should be able to dance a Rumba to.  If you’ve got particular tempo needs, for instance, if you’re looking for a slower or faster Rumba, you can always restrict the tempo in the advanced search form as well. If you don’t have a good handle on dance tempi for dances, check out our tempi tool.

Speaking of searching for specific tempos.  One of the features that we’ve recently added is the ability to find songs by tempo even if we haven’t identified a specific partner dance for the song.  As of this writing, we are trying this out as a premium feature.  If you have purchased a premium subscription, you can check the box on the Advanced Search page to include the “Not categorized by dance” bonus content, specify your tempo range and get a larger list of songs that meet those criteria.  (Check out more details on my bonus content blog post.) This should be useful for people that are looking for music of a specific tempo for dances that we haven’t categorized yet or for exercise that isn’t dancing.

As always, I’m interested in your feedback. Let me know how you use this feature, or what would make it better.

Check out our new Bonus Content Feature

As of this writing the publicly visible music4dance catalog contains just over twenty seven thousand songs.  But the underlying index contains well over forty six thousand songs.  So what’s the deal with the missing twenty thousand songs?  These are song listings that I’ve pulled in one way or another but aren’t complete in some way.

  1. All of the songs must have been matched to an entry in one of the publisher catalogs that we search.
  2. Each song must have been tagged with at least one dance style.

I believe that these are perfectly reasonable constraints and help to reduce confusion for a novice user. However, there is a whole lot of information indexed in our catalog that people aren’t seeing and could be of some use.

One of the things that people often do on the site is to search for ideas for songs to dance to.  They will search for an artist name or a fragment of the title of a song and see what comes up.  This works great, but of course, the more songs that can be searched the more likely that you’ll get a useful idea.  The songs that are in the bonus section have had less scrutiny, many of them probably have small typos or other inaccuracies in the title or artist that prevented them from being matched to a publisher’s catalog.  Or they might be obscure songs that just aren’t as easily available on Spotify or Amazon.  In either case, I think getting to these additional songs is useful to the expert user sleuthing for the interesting or obscure song to choreograph to or surprise their dancers with.

Another case is where someone is looking for a song of a particular tempo but doesn’t necessarily need it to be specifically for one of the dance styles that we currently catalog.  This might be because they’re looking for something to dance to in a different style that might have a specific  tempo requirement but doesn’t necessarily have some of the other requirements for partner dancing.  One case that comes to mind is tap dance music, but I’m sure there are others.  One could potentially use this for finding running or exercise music of a specific tempo.

If you’re interested in exploring this, here’s how:

As always, I’m interested in your feedback. Please let me know if this feature seems useful to you. Or even better, let me know how you use this feature so that I can add that to common use cases and blog about it in the future.

Please Support www.music4dance.net

If you’re looking for music ideas for partner dancing, music4dance has something for you.  Whether you’re a competitive ballroom dancer, a social partner dancer, a dance DJ looking for new music, a musician that plays for partner dances, or a couple looking for wedding music, we’ve built an experience that will help. With a catalog of over twenty-five thousand songs cross-referenced by dozens of dance styles and hundreds of tags, we’ve built a real treasure trove of music to explore.

This year, I would like to generate enough revenue to pay for the site’s maintenance costs.  This isn’t a whole lot, but it’s significantly more than current advertising and referral revenue streams represent.  I can see two paths to making that happen.  One is to increase the number of active users of the site significantly and the other is to create a more direct revenue stream.

As someone who uses this site, I’m asking for your help in one or both of these efforts.

To increase the number of people visiting the site (and therefore increasing advertising and referral revenue) all you have to do is tell your dancing friends.  And if you run a web site or blog, please link to music4dance.  I’m happy to link back to appropriate content as well, so if you run a website that makes sense for cross-promotion, please contact me.

In order to create direct revenue streams, I’ve built a premium subscription and a way to donate to the site.  For now, the annual subscription is ten dollars a year and gives you an advertising-free experience.  You can also donate any amount, either on top of the subscription fee or without purchasing a subscription.  More information on this is available on our “contribute” page.

Thanks for your support!

Holiday Music for Partner Dancing (Take 2)

It’s that time of year again – people are searching for holiday music for showcases and holiday party dances.   So I decided to take another round at what I could do to improve that experience on the music4dance website.  Take a quick look at my post from last year since that is still 100% applicable.  Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

You’re back?  Great!  As you can see, I took some pretty big shortcuts to get the Holiday Music page up before Christmas last year.  This year I spent a little while to improve the page.

First, I made the pages work like the other song search pages so that you get 25 songs at a time and can scale up to much longer searches.  There are only 261 songs on the main Holiday Music page as of this writing, but I hope to get that number up to the point where loading them all on one page is prohibitive.

Second, I added the functionality to list all of the Holiday Music for an individual dance style.  So if you are choreographing a routine for Quickstep or Rumba, you can now list just the Holiday Quickstep or the Holiday Rumba songs.

Over the course of this holiday season, I hope to add more music.  If you are interested in helping, here are a couple of things you can try:

  • Sign up for our add song beta and add holiday songs yourself.
  • Browse our music catalog and tag songs as Holiday when you find them.
  • If you have a list of holiday songs categorized by dance style that you are willing to share, please send us an email at info@music4dance.net or contact us through our feedback form.

I’ll also get things set up to push these lists out to Spotify soon.

As always if you have comments or suggestions please feel free to reply to this post or contact me here.

Playing songs from the music4dance catalog

One of the coolest things about the music4dance website was the ability to use the embedded Spotify player to play the results of a search.  For instance, I could go to the site and list all the songs that are listed as Slow Foxtrot and also tagged as genre rock and order them from slow to fast like this.   Then I’d be able to play the songs in the embedded Spotify player.

Unfortunately, Spotify turned off the feature that allowed me to do this and I’ve been wracking my brain and searching the web for viable alternatives.  You can still go to the play buttons for individual songs and play a 30-second sample, most songs in the catalog have a sample available thanks to either Apple or Spotify.  This works pretty well if you’re using the site to find an idea for a song for a routine, which is pretty common.  You can also use the Amazon button to click through to the Amazon site and play a sample there.

As an aside, if you buy the song from Amazon through a link from the site a small percentage of the purchase price goes to support the music4dance site.  So, by all means, please do this whenever you find music that you want to purchase via the site.  Another interesting aspect of Amazon’s program is that if you buy something during that session, even if it wasn’t something that I directly linked to from the site, music4dance still gets a (very small) slice of that purchase.

But I still want to be able to listen to a full playlist of songs from the site.  I haven’t found a full replacement, but I have a partial fix in place now.  I can generate a static playlist based on part of the music4dance catalog and embed players that point to the playlists.  I’ve implemented this for each of the dances pages.  So go ahead and browse through to try the embedded Spotify player for your favorite dance.

This solution also has the advantage that these playlists are available directly via Spotify.  You can go to the music4dance Spotify Account and browse the public playlists there directly.  Go ahead and follow the music4dance account or the individual playlists to make it easy for you to find them in the future.

If there are other song lists on the music4dance site that you are interested in seeing as Spotify Playlists, let me know by responding to this post or sending feedback and I’ll add them to my queue.

Book Review: The meaning of TANGO

The Meaning of TANGO: The Story of the Argentinian Dance by Christine Dennison

This is a fun book for Tango dancers of all types.  The book is very centered around traditional Argentine Tango and does an excellent job of conveying that perspective.  It’s also somewhat unusual in that it is predominantly about the history and philosophy of the dance but contains a section that is straight up technique with diagrams.

The book is a quick read and full of wonderful tidbits about the dance and its history.  Rather than a full-fledged review, I would like to highlight a few points that I feel gave me some useful insight into Argentine Tango.   I am someone with a ballroom background and  I believe this book helped me understand the dance in a way that I didn’t have even after taking a number of beginning Argentine Tango lessons.

Dance to the Melody

There is a section called “One Name, Many Dances” where the author talks about the relationship between Argentine Tango and ballroom dances.  In particular this quote from Freddie Camp, an early German Ballroom dancer:

In Argentina dancers prided themselves on their ability to dance the melody rather than the rhythm. Indeed, Tango orchestras almost never have a drum section. While most other dance music around the world is based on a strong, clear rhythm, generally emphasised by drums, newcomers to Tango music often complain that they find the rhythm of the music difficult to hear. This is one of the qualities that makes Argentinian Tango unique.

The idea of dancing to the melody rather than the rhythm goes a long way to explaining the thing that puzzled me about the practice music that was used in the beginning Argentine Tango lessons that I’ve taken.  I felt that the teachers were choosing music where the beat was hard to find, which I would not expect of a beginning class.  So I’m going to spend some time listening to the melody of Argentine Tango music and see if I can find myself moving to the melody.

Learning to Lead by Following

I found the description of how Argentine Tango was taught traditionally particularly enlightening.  The men would learn in prácticas which were all male and composed predominantly of expert dancers.  When learning to follow a young man would spend his formative years being led by experienced dancers.  Then he would spend additional years within the práctica leading other men before he ever went to a mix sexed milonga and lead a woman.   The fallout of this is that in the context of learning the dance, one was surrounded by experts.  Contrast this with the current practice of dance classes where there are one or two teachers and a crowd of inexperienced dancers.

In addition, from a lead’s perspective, learning to follow is invaluable.  I didn’t do this until I had years of lead experience and when I finally did spend some time learning to follow it fundamentally changed the way I lead.

The Tango Trinity

Finally, the author talks about the “Tango Trinity”: Tango, Milonga, and Vals.  From some other research and some discussion with Argentine Tango dancers, this appears to be the purist’s set of Tango dances.  I had originally categorized Neo Tango into the set of Argentine Tango dances, but that appears not to be the case.  Based on this, I almost went down the path of pulling Neo Tango from the catalog as a distinct dance and reworked it so that Neo Tango (or Tango Nuevo) would just be a style tag on top of the Tango Trinity dances.  But I’m glad I did some further research.  It looks like Neo Tango is a distinct style of dance and related to traditional Argentine tango about as closely as Ballroom Tango is.

The main thing that I got from that set of discussions is that Argentine Tango dancers are even more concerned with the tradition of the music that other styles that I’ve studied.  I got the impression that some would only consider “true tango music” to be that recorded by a specific set of artists from the golden age.  Someday, I’d like to see if I can get things sorted out so that it’s easy to distinguish these from others.

If you have thoughts on the Argentine Tango, the music4dance website or corrections to anything I’ve said about Tango and Tango music, please feel free to comment here or send me feedback.

Also, if this post sparked your interest enough to buy the book, please follow one of the affiliate links below.  And as a small aside, any of the Amazon and ITunes links on the site and blog help support the site, so if you find things of interest here, please use the links to make purchases.

The Meaning of Tango: Kindle Edition

The Meaning of Tango: Hardcover Edition

The Meaning of Tango: Paperback Edition

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