Tag Archives: Advanced Search

New Feature: Saving and Sharing Searches

Searching for music to dance to is what music4dance is all about. 

I’ve been adding features such as Filter by Song Length, General Search, and Searching for a song from Spotify or iTunes to improve your ability to do just that. 

Another thing that I hope music4dance will be used for is to share those songs with other dancers.

There are two features that I haven’t blogged about recently that have suffered from some bit rot over the years. Since I’ve got them up and running again I want to increase awareness about them and get your feedback as to how useful these features are to you.

The first is Saving Searches. Whenever you do a search that is nontrivial, we save the search in a list that you can access through your account menu. See the help for more details.

The other is the magic of URLs. You can copy the link from the address bar and share it with other dancers. This is true of everything from the simplest searches you do from the top menu bar to the most complex searches you create using the advanced search tool. Or you can embed the link in a blog post, which is what I do regularly here. It’s one of those wonderful web features that should always just work, but often is not correctly implemented. It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine when this doesn’t work for websites, so I try to make it work for music4dance.

And there is a third feature, which I’ve implemented more recently. With a premium subscription, you can create a Spotify playlist from a search and share the results.

I’m very interested in feedback, about this set of features. I can think of several ways I might want to improve the saving and sharing of searches, but I hesitate to invest much more into this until I hear from you. For instance, would you like to be able to show your favorite searches on your profile page? Or would you like to refine searches even more? Or would you be interested in seeing what others are searching for?

Besides the specific feedback request above, I’m always interested in your more general feedback, so please share any thoughts and ideas you have about this post or the site by commenting below or using other feedback mechanisms listed here. In addition, if you enjoy the site or the blog (or both), please consider contributing in whatever way that makes sense for you.

Ask music4dance: Should you add a Single Swing Dance category?

Arne had another great question (paraphrased): I see Single Swing being danced a lot these days.  Should music4dance add another swing category? Is Single Swing a local thing, national, really new? Do people still dance triple-step Swing?

Here is a slightly cleaned-up version of my response:

East Coast Swing (the triple step variety) is a competition dance, so it’s still being danced regularly in ballroom environments. But the Lindy revival of the ’90s seems to have dominated the social swing scene from what I can tell.

In the ballroom community that I learned to dance in during the ’90s, they used the term East Coast Swing to refer to the competition dance, which was definitely a triple-swing. But if one was dancing socially to music too fast to comfortable dance triple swing, you would revert to something they were calling Single Swing or East Coast Single Swing or some variation on that.

I fell down a rabbit hole, trying to see if my recollection had anything to do with current thinking on this. This video shows a “Single Swing” basic that is exactly what I think of as Single Swing. Duet Dance and DanceTime both have descriptions of various kinds of swings. They seem to agree that what I think of as Single Swing could also be reasonably called “The Jitterbug” (which I had thought was just a different name for Lindy Hop). As with any of this stuff, the history is so twisted up that there probably isn’t a correct answer, or if there is, it would require a historian to dig up.

Even without adding a new dance, you should be able to find some good ideas for Single Swings by searching for generic Swing in the tempo range between 140 and 184 MPM. When I first responded to Arne, I had broken that feature, but it’s now up and running again. So you can go to the Advanced Search Page, choose Swing in the dances section, and type in the tempo range you’d like to filter on. 

I am interested in incorporating Single Swing into the music4dance catalog. Should I do this as Jitterbug or Single Swing or by adding single and triple tags to East Coast Swing? I’d love to get others’ thoughts on this so please feel free to send feedback.

Asking to add a new dance style to the catalog is certainly in the top ten questions I’ve been getting. So I’ve been working on streamlining how I manage dance information to make that easier. Most of this work has been under the hood (although the bug mentioned above was one side effect). One of the more visible aspects of this is a small redesign of the Dance Styles page to simplify it a bit and hopefully make it a little more usable.

As always, I’m very interested in your feedback, so please share any thoughts and ideas you have about this post or the site by commenting below or using other feedback mechanisms listed here. In addition, if you enjoy the site or the blog (or both), please consider contributing in whatever way that makes sense for you.

New Feature: More ways to see what’s going on at music4dance

One of my goals for music4dance is to build a system that people can use to share their knowledge of partner dance music with others.  I probably spent too much time early on in this project building bots and scrapers to seed the catalog with content and neglected the community aspect of the site.  So I am now trying to focus on more community-building features.  This includes everything from simplifying the system so that it’s easier to add new styles of dance to making it easier for members to add new songs to making it possible for members to see who else likes to dance to a song.

Following on to the feature where I added the ability to see the voting history on a song on the details page, I’ve added a couple of small feature-lets.

Now,  when you filter music on a user you will see a column  with that user’s changes:

If you know a user’s username, you can filter by a user in the advanced search page by typing the username and choosing what you want to filter on (likes, tags, etc.).  Or you can go down the path described in a previous post and click on a username anywhere that one shows up.  That will take you to a page that will let you filter on all the songs that the user has tagged or all the songs that that user has added to favorites among other things. Eventually, I’d like to have that page contain additional user profile information.

The other fun thing you can do is on the new music page.  The song list on that page has a similar column to the one above that shows latest change to each song and who made it.  That’s a way to find users that are actively adding songs and seeing what they’re up to.

And finally, when you’re exploring these features if you find a search that you want to share with others, you can just copy the URL and send it to a friend. That’s what I do with links back to the music4dance site with these blogs – so it’s not a new feature, but it is becoming more useful with the other community features that I’m building.

As always, I welcome feedback on not just the feature, but the site in general.  And if you find the site useful, please consider contributing in any way that you can.

What is the difference between adding a song to Favorites and voting on a  Song’s Danceability?

From discussions with dancers navigating the music4dance site and observing people’s usage of the site I realize that I still haven’t made it easy to understand the nuances of a couple of important features.  I’m trying to default to simplifying the site wherever possible. But enough people are using both of these features that I don’t feel good about getting rid of either of them.  So I made some changes in terminology and behavior and I’m interested to know if this makes more sense.

Here are the two features at issue:

  1. The concept of voting on the danceability of a song to a particular dance style.  For instance – I love dancing Cha Cha to “Let’s Get Loud” by Jennifer Lopez, so I’ll vote on that.
  2. The concept of adding songs to a favorites or blocked list.  Up until this change I labelled the favorites/blocked list as like/dislike, which I now believe is part of the source of confusion.

It’s important to the music4dance community that people vote on the danceability of a song to dance styles – this is what helps build and refine the catalog that is the core of the site and the main reason that people visit it.

It’s also useful to be able to add songs to a favorites list so that you can filter on that for future searches.   And frankly, blocking a song that you are just sick of is kind of nice as well.

The two concepts are almost completely separate in how they would be used.  But they are too easily confused.  I hope that moving from the like/dislike nomenclature to favorites/blocked list will make things less confusing.

Since I feel the voting concept is more useful to the community, I’ve also done some things to make that more discoverable.  The most recent of these is that when you click on the heart (add to favorites) button in the main song lists, rather than just toggling through favorites/blocked/neutral, it will bring up a modal that will let you explicitly choose one of those options as well as quickly vote on any of the dance styles already associated with the song.

I’ve also added a voting button to dance info modal that is available by clicking on the dance voting results button.

As I noted at the beginning, this is something that I’ve been struggling with for some time (check out this post from 2016) and hope I’ve improved it a bit.  But I’m sure there are other things I can do to make this better, so please send me any of your ideas and let me know if you think the latest change works better (or worse) for you.

And, as always, I’m open to feedback about the feature discussed here as well as the site overall.


Music4dance could use your help:  Please take a look the contribute page:  This lists a bunch of ways to contribute from purchasing premium memberships to voting on songs to sharing with your friends and a bunch of things in between.

Ask Music4Dance: How do I find a “Pop Rock” song to dance a Slow Foxtrot to?

This is another question that I’ve seen a bunch of variations on over the years.  It’s one of the reasons that I started music4dance.  I love Big Band music and grew up playing Basie and Goodman in Jazz bands.  And my dad was a big fan of Buddy Rich.  On top of that Foxtrot and Swing co-evolved with this kind of music, so there is no problem finding plenty of music of that style to dance to.

But I’m also pretty eclectic in my musical tastes and some of the most fun I’ve had as a dancer is choreographing an exhibition dance to music that wasn’t written to be danced to – or at least not a traditional ballroom style dance.  There are obviously limits to this, but you see it all the time on shows like Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance.

When I received a variation on this question again recently, I checked and realized that in my big rewrite of the site, I had broken the easiest way to do this kind of search.  This is now fixed,  so you can go to the info page for the dance style you’re interested in by choosing “Dances” from the Music menu. Pick the dance style you’re interested in (in this case Slow Foxtrot). Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll see a tags section.  This is a tag cloud that includes all of the tags (other than dance style tags) that people have associated with songs that someone has also tagged as danceable to Slow Foxtrot.  From there you can explore all the unusual songs and musical styles that someone at some point has attempted to dance the Slow Foxtrot to.

I have to admit, going through some of these, that there are plenty that are a stretch – even with a choreographed set piece.  But still a lot of fun to think about.  If you go down this road and find things that stretch your ability to imagine dancing a particular style to and feel that they’re a mistake rather than a fun (but out there) variation, please feel free to vote them down.  Remember all of this content is crowd-sourced, so you’ve got a vote if you choose to use it.

One thing that I realized as I was writing this is that there isn’t an easy way to go the other direction.  You can use Advanced Search or the main Tag Cloud to list all of the songs associated with any tag.  But that doesn’t give you a direct list of all of the dance styles, you have to scroll through all the songs and figure that out yourself.  Let me know if that would be interesting to you and I’ll increase the priority of that feature. 

And as always I love to hear from you – so please send me feedback about the site or with questions about this post.  I may even feature your question in a future post.

Quick Tip:

If you want to be able to listen to a Spotify Playlist of all of the songs that you find in a search like the one above (or any other search on the site), you can do so by signing up for a premium subscription. I took the liberty of generating a playlist for the example above here in case you want to check it out – while you’re on Spotify, please “like” the music4dance account and any of the other playlists that you enjoy.

How do you like to see lists of music to dance to?

One of the core features of music4dance is to be able to list songs for dancing in a bunch of different ways.  As I noted a little while ago, I’m at the point in the process of the site upgrade where I’m reworking that core functionality.  In a world of infinite (or even abundant) resources , I’d get the new functionality up and running and give you the opportunity to switch back and forth between the new and the old for some period of time and give me your feedback.  While that’s a bit out of my reach, it occurred to me that it’s pretty easy to just roll out what I’ve got on some of the pages and leave the old stuff in place on others. That will give you the opportunity to see them both and compare and give feedback.

As of this writing (November 15th, 2020) I’ve got an initial version working and rolled out to some of the pages.  You can see the new song lists on  the Holiday Music page including the specific holiday dance variants like Holiday Cha Cha and Holiday Foxtrot, the New Music page and the dance pages including both the dance group pages like the Swing page and specific dance pages like the Rumba page.  The old version is still live in the basic song library and as the results of advanced searches as well as any of the links from other places on the site that bring up a song list.

Please take a look and let me know what you think.  I’m particularly interested in anything that I left out in the new version that you used in the old version.  But I’m also always open to feedback and ideas for what I could do to make this content more helpful for you.

As always, thank you for supporting music4dance and please feel to provide feedback on the subject of this post or anything else relating to music4dance.

Are you looking for Halloween Music to dance to?

Halloween is almost here and yet again I am late setting up something for Halloween related playlists.  In past years, I’ve just let this go since it feels like it’s too late to get something together when I start thinking about it in mid-October.  But this year I decided to just do it. After all, we may be thinking about what we’re going to do for next Halloween, in which case we’ve got plenty of time to plan.

A few years ago I set up a holiday music page to do my best to collect the songs that are tagged in different ways but that all generally mean they might be useful to use in a holiday playlist or be fun to choreograph a dance to for a holiday party.  But this was specifically aimed at the Christmas/Winter holiday tradition.  And it was made more difficult because I was gathering together a whole bunch of different tags.

For Halloween things are much easier.  All I needed to do was pull in some Halloween playlists and match them with the existing music4dance catalog.  I’ve got a good start on this, which you can see here.  If you want to navigate to this yourself, just go to the tag cloud page (available from the music menu) and click on the “Halloween” tag. Then choose “List all songs tagged as Halloween.”  If you want to filter by dance style, you can click on advanced search and choose the style.

As of this writing, I’ve got about 80 songs cataloged as Halloween that are also cross referenced by dance.  If you have lists of danceable Halloween music, I’d be happy to include them on the site.  For this or any other questions or suggestions, feel free to reply to this post or send feedback.  You can also tag songs yourself.

As always, thank you for supporting music4dance.

Quick Tip:

When you have a list of songs (such as the Halloween list) you can refine the list by clicking on the advanced search link or by clicking on any of the dances or tags listed on the page.

What is Your Favorite music4dance Feature?

I’m in the middle of doing a substantial rewrite of music4dance to modernize it and, hopefully, clean up the code enough that I can start adding new features without breaking things.  I had originally intended to keep all of the functionality of the site as I moved forward.  But this has been a bigger undertaking than I anticipated.  In additional, the original site grew somewhat organically, so there are multiple ways of doing things that weren’t so much designed as grown. I’m not sure that it makes sense to preserve all of the different ways of doing the same thing.

Right now I am rewriting the core song list functionality that is used on all or the pages that (surprise) list songs.  This includes the main song library, all of the dance pages, and the holiday music pages.  In addition the results of advanced search and the pages that you navigate to from many of the other pages like the wedding music, tags, and the ballroom dance pages will be affected by this round of changes.  And I’m finding it difficult to reproduce all of the existing functionality while keeping the code clean enough to feel like I can move forward.  Not to mention that I’m itching to get through this to start writing new features.

So, before I arbitrarily start cutting things, I thought I’d ask:  How do you use music4dance?  What are your favorite features?  Please let me know, so I don’t go and remove something that I don’t think is essential, but that is the reason that you love the site.

Please reply to this post or send feedback with your favorite features or a description of how you use the site.

Quick Tip: You can share your searches.  Any time you create a list of songs, whether that is through using advanced search, or by refining a search in other ways, you can copy the URL out of the browsers address bar and share it with friends and fellow dancers.

Finding the latest music on music4dance (take 2)

There are enough people that visit music4dance regularly that I thought it would be worth revisiting how to make it easy to find the most recently added and changed music on the site.  I did one pass at this back in November of 2016 when I had to change the default away from listing songs in order of most recently changed.

But that involved adding a link the home page and some options in the Advanced Search page and didn’t do a great job of leading people to that option if they didn’t know it was already there.

So I’ve added a “New Music” option in the “Music” menu.  This will take you directly to a page showing the songs with the most recently added first as well as an easy link to switch over to the most recently changed songs.  I hope this is a bit more discoverable than previous methods.

Once you’re on the New Music page you can use all of the usual methods of tag filtering to narrow down your search and we’ll preserve the sort order that you started with.

You can still use Advanced Search to do things like finding the most recently added Rumbas or Tangos.

We’re adding new music as we find it.  You can help in a couple of different ways.  Sign up for beta feature to add your own songs, mark exiting songs as danceable to a particular style, or send me lists of your favorite songs and what you dance to them – I can import any reasonably formatted list and will be happy to associate those songs with your account and set up a back-link to your site.

It’s great to see so many people use the site.  Please let me know how you use the site, I’m always delighted to hear your feedback both positive and not so positive (the latter is often what leads me down the path of new and revised features).

How do I find the latest music added to music4dance?

I’m adding new music just about every week, so if you’re a frequent visitor to music4dance how can you see what is new?

I used to show you music sorted by most recent by default.  But as I noted in this blog post, that’s no longer feasible, when balanced against the ability to do google-like searches.

Don’t panic – it’s still easy to do.  Whenever you’re looking at a list of songs in the song library, you will see that the last column is a single letter and the header for the column is a pencil icon.  Clicking on that icon once will show you the most recently modified songs first, clicking a second time will show the oldest songs first.

If you want to get even fancier, you can go to the advanced search page  and choose either “Last Modified” or “When Added” and a direction.  “Last Modified” is exactly what you get with the pencil icon, “When Added” sorts by when the song was first added rather than when it was last changed.

Are there songs that you love to dance to that you don’t see here?  I’d be delighted to add them, just send me a list include title, artist, album and what kind of dance and I’ll add them to the catalog.  Or would you prefer to add them yourself?

 

P.S. For those that may be wondering, here is what the letters in the date column mean:

  • s = seconds
  • m = minutes
  • h = hours
  • D = days
  • W = weeks
  • M = months
  • Y = years

You can see the actual date and time that a song has been modified by hovering over the letter.