Let’s tag some songs

After several rounds of closed beta, I’m ready to open up the account management and tag editing features as public betas.

The tag editor is the first of a  number of features that I’m planning that will enable you to customize your music4dance experience. With the tag editor you can tag songs and the relationships between songs and dance styles based on your own tastes and then use the tag filtering tools to create song lists based on your own tags as all the tags already in the system.  In addition, just the act of tagging a song adds it to your master list of songs.

Get started by registering.  Then take a quick look at the documentation and get started.  Or for the more daring among you, just start tagging songs and see what happens.

Thanks for trying this feature.  Please submit bugs and feature requests with our bug report form.

What if I want to build a list of songs that are tagged as either Bolero or Rumba?

There are a bunch of different reasons that you might want to build lists of songs that are more sophisticated than just the songs that can be danced to a specific style.  For instance you may be choreographing a piece that you want to switch between Cha Cha and East Coast Swing.  Or you might want to get a more comprehensive list of songs that are in the Bolero/Rumba range so you want everything that’s tagged with either of those dance styles.  Or, you’re like me and just want to see what dances people have tagged as both Waltz and Foxtrot (two apparently contradictory labels – more on that in a future post).

I’ve just added a feature that enables all of those scenarios.  The documentation is here, but let me break a couple of the scenarios down into specifics.

First, let’s say you’re looking for a song to choreograph a mixed East Coast Swing/Cha Cha routine to. Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to the song list page by clicking on Music -> Songs in the menu at the top of the music4dance.net website.
  2. Click on the “more” button near the top of the page
  3. Click on the “any” button that appears and choose “all”
  4. Click in the text box that says “Choose some dance styles…” and start typing “East Coast Swing”, after the first letter or two you should be able to choose from a list.  Do the same with Cha Cha
  5. Click on the search (magnifier) button and you should see a list of songs all of which are tagged with both East Coast Swing and Cha Cha

Next, let’s take a look at finding a mixed list of songs.  For example, if we want to find all songs that are labeled as either Rumba or Bolero, here’s what you do:

  1. Go to the song list page by clicking on Music -> Songs in the menu at the top of the music4dance.net website.
  2. Click on the “more” button near the top of the page
  3. Make sure that the “any” button that next to the “Dance to” label reads “any.”  If it reads “all” then click to choose “any.”
  4. Click in the text box that says “Choose some dance styles…” and start typing “Bolero”, after the first letter or two you should be able to choose from a list.  Do the same with Rumba
  5. Click on the search (magnifier) button and you should see a list of songs all of which are tagged with both East Coast Swing and Cha Cha

I hope this is useful to you.  If there are combinations of dances that you find particularly useful, please let me know by commenting.  Similarly, if there are combinations that you can’t manage with the current implementation please comment and I’ll look at extending this capability even more.

I’m a competition ballroom dancer, can I find practice songs that are a specific tempo?

The quick answer to this question is yes, definitely!

First, many of the songs in our catalog have been tagged with a tempo, so it is easy to get a list of suggestions.  However, these are tempi that have been sourced from all over the web, so please use this as a first approximation rather than some kind of official source.

That said, it’s very easy to get  a list of songs of a particular tempo.  Just go to the song list page (the “Songs” item in the “Music” menu), choose the style of dance you’re interested in practicing [A] and click on the “More” button [B].

dance-selector-annotated

Then you can fill the minimum tempo (C) an the maximum temp (D), and click the search button (E) to get a list of songs.

tempo-filter-annotated

If the list is empty we haven’t tagged any songs in that tempo range for that dance style.  Which is the perfect segue into the another way to do this kind of search.

If you are competing in a particular category (International Standard, International Latin, American Smooth and American Rhythm), you can go to the info page for that category by  clicking on the name of the category on the  Ballroom Dancer section of the home page or at the bottom of the dance style page.  The core of each of these pages is a table with the dances styles for that competition category and the competition tempo ranges.  The tempo ranges are active links to just the kind of song search that I described in the last paragraph.  Starting here will assure that you’ve started with the approved competition tempo range. Full documentation for the dance category pages can be found here.

Finally, if you are practicing a particular dance you can start from the dance style page (from the “Dances” item in the “Music” menu) and click on the dance style that you’re practicing.  The tempo info link on that page will take you to the same table as the category page but with just the single dance style specified.  Full documentation for the dance style pages can be found here.

Hope that helps.  If you are interested in helping refine our catalog (by, for instance, adding ‘strict’ tags) please sign up for our upcoming beta via this feedback form, or use the same form to report incorrect tempi or other information in our database.

Documentation for the Tag Cloud

I’ve added a brief description of the tag cloud page, as well as modifying the documentation for the song list and dance style pages to reflect changes that I made to add capabilities to filter on tags.  With this the documentation is roughly up to date with the code (a strangely odd feeling from a programmer’s perspective) and I’ll be rolling out a beta for user tags soon.  If you’re interested in participating in the beta, please sign up via this feedback form.

Documentation for the Tempo Counter and Tempi (tempos) tools

One of the things that was difficult for me as a beginning ballroom dancer (even though I had decent amount of musical background) was to judge the tempo of a song at the level required to know if the song could be danced to in a particular style.  I talked about the tool I created to help me with this in one of my early posts (Question 2: What dance styles can I dance to my favorite songs?)  Today I’ve added some more complete documentation for the tempo counter tool.

Another thing that always bugs me is the relationship between the tempi of different dance styles.  I created another tool to help me visualized the relationships between dances and also posted some detailed documentation for that tool today.

Wedding Music Part II: We’re learning to Rumba, help us find a good song for our first dance

In my last post I showed you how to use the music4dance website if you already had a song in mind that you wanted to use for your first dance, and wanted to figure out which dance style(s) would work with the song. But what if you are particularly in love with one dance style or are just learning to dance one particular style and are looking for an inspiring first dance song in that style?

Let’s take a concrete example. Assume for a moment that you are learning to Rumba, so you’re looking for songs that will work for rumba but are also good songs for a first dance.

  1. Go to the music4dance web site (https://www.music4dance.net).tag-menu-annotated
  2. Choose Music->Tags from the menu at the top of the site by first clicking on Music (A) then on Tags (B).
  3. Click on the “Wedding” tag (C).wedding-tag-page
  4. A menu will pop up, choose the option “List all songs tagged as Wedding.”
    A list of all of the songs in our catalog that have been tagged “Wedding” appears.wedding-dances Since this list includes not only songs tagged as “First dance” but also “Father Daughter” and “Mother Son” tagged songs, let’s further refine our list to just “First Dance” songs.
  5. Click on any “First Dance” tag (D) in the tags column, a small menu will pop up.  Choose “Filter the list to include only songs tagged as First Dance.”  You will now have a list of songs that have been tagged both as “First Dance” and “Wedding.”first-dances
  6. But you are looking specifically for songs that you can dance the Rumba to.  So click on the dance selector button (E) (All Dances) and choose Rumba (F).
  7. You will now have songs that you can dance the rumba to that have been tagged as “Wedding” and “First Dance.”first-rumba
  8. The play button (G) on any song  will give you a list of music streaming and purchase options, which at minimum will let you listen to 30 seconds for free to make sure this is the song you were thinking of at if you’re subscribed to one of the services like Spotify or Groove you can listen to the entire song.
  9. You can click on the title link of any song (H) to get even more details including albums that contain this song.
  10. Or click on the Tempo column header (I) to sort the songs by tempo.

Is the style of dance you’re interested in not included please leave a comment or take a few minutes to go through my dance classification survey and help me generalize this system to the style of dance that you know.

Wedding Music Part I: Can we dance the Foxtrot to our song?

When did you first learn to dance?

For many people it was so that they could dance at their wedding.  Most especially so that they could enjoy the first dance but also perhaps for the Father/Daughter or Mother/Son dance.  If you’re just starting to learn to partner dance it can be pretty intimidating to both learn to dance and try to figure out what the possible dances are for your favorite song(s) and to dig through lists of suggested wedding songs to find the ‘right’ one for the dance style that you’re learning.

How can music4dance.net help?

Let’s assume for a moment that your special song is “Fever” by Ray Charles.  Here’s what you do:
song-menu-annotated

  1. Go to the music4dance web site (https://www.music4dance.net).
  2. Choose Music->Songs from the menu at the top of the site by first clicking on Music (A) then on Songs (B).
  3. Type “Fever” (without the quotes) into the search box (C).
  4. Click on the search button (D).
  5. The Ray Charles and Natalie Cole version of “Fever” should show up near the top of the list (E), if not try sorting by Artist by clicking on the Artist column header (F).
  6. The row already shows you some suggested dance styles in the dance column (G) including Foxtrot and Swing.  And you can see that others have tagged (H) this as a good Wedding and First Dance song.
  7. The play button (I)  will give you a list of music streaming and purchase options, which at minimum will let you listen to 30 seconds for free to make sure this is the song you were thinking of at if you’re subscribed to one of the services like Spotify or Groove, you can listen to the entire song.
  8. You can click on the title link (J) to get even more details including albums that contain this song.

fever-annotated
Hope that helps.  If you can’t find your song in our catalog, let me know what it is by commenting on this thread and I’ll see if I can add it.

Next time I’ll walk you through the other direction – starting with a dance that you know and finding music that others have identified as good First Dance songs for that style of dance.

Documentation for the song list

I have resisted writing any real documentation for the music4dance website as it is evolving quickly enough that keeping up with the changes will be difficult.  But I did some user testing on several of the key features of the site and they just aren’t self documenting yet.   So while I will continue to work on the features to make them as intuitive as I can and reduce the need for documentation, for now documentation seems to be an essential feature.

The first thing that I’ve documented is the use of the songs list.  Please take a look and let me know what you think.

The “Dancing with the Stars” solution

I learned to dance in part because Dirty Dancing made me want to be Johnny Castle.  Or at least dance like him. And my first dance partner was similarly moved by Strictly Ballroom.  These days So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars are both inspiration for aspiring dancers.

Since one of my goals with the music4dance project is to build a catalog of music that inspires you to dance, it seems appropriate to make sure I’m folding in the songs that the choreographers from these shows have found inspiring.  I’ve started by adding in the songs from (season 20) of Dancing with the Stars since that is currently airing.

All of the Dancing with the Stars songs that I’ve cataloged can be found at this link.  You can refine your search to a particular episode by clicking on the episode number and choosing to include that episode.

One fun side effect of this is that you can click play on the Spotify Player at the bottom of the page and play all of the songs from an episode (or you can follow the individual links to iTunes or Amazon to purchase the songs). Here’s an example of the spotify player for DWTS Season 20, Episode 1:

What other movies and shows have inspired you to dance?  Did they include specific songs that really make you want to get up and move?

Before you go, I’m continuing to gather data on how people group dance styles and would appreciate your input.  More information about that is available in this post.  Or just go directly to the survey.

Help: How would you group this dance style?

Update (September, 2015): Unfortunately the site that I used to build this survey (http://conceptcodify.com) folded before I was able to get enough results to show patterns.  If you find this interesting, please send feedback and I’ll consider trying again with a different service.

 

One of the fun things about learning more about different dance styles is that you start to see patterns in how one style evolves into another and how a dance style will move from one tradition to another, be transformed and possibly take on another name (or not). I have all kinds of crazy ideas about how to represent that information as you browse through songs searching for something that inspires you to dance or choreograph or to just throw into a practice play-list.

But not all of those ideas are feasible and even the feasible ideas will take some time to implement. So in the meantime I’d like to take a small slice of one of those ideas and get your input on how you categorize dances. I’ve set up a small survey that allows you to sort names of dance styles into groups. I’ve named some groups to start you off, but you’re welcome to change things up in any way that makes sense to you.

There is no right way to do this. It’s essential to get input from people with all different kinds of dance knowledge, all the way from those with professional training to those whose main exposure to dance is through television and movies. The tool I’m using only allows you to put any given dance into one group, so just choose the group that you most associate with the dance. I’ve intentionally started with group titles that include both names that some dancers may be familiar with and pop culture references. Use and extend whichever system makes sense to you by creating new groups or use a combination of both if that is what works for you. Remember, I’m just looking for patterns in how people think about grouping dances, so don’t spend too much time on this, just throw things where they make the most sense to you.

Thanks in advance for taking a few minutes to try this exercise. Here is the link: https://conceptcodify.com/studies/II5fJIxuQOzjSEB3fMLCCA7b/via/98u3CehK9xmYMwaWE2K7OYCp/
This is an open survey, so please pass this link along to your friends.

Shall we dance…to music?

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