Tag Archives: Dance

Share Your Favorite Searches

Have you found a particularly useful or exciting way to search for music on the music4dance site?  Just for instance, were you choreographing a swing-cha combo and constructed a search for songs that can be danced to both East Coast Swing and Cha Cha and that are not categorized as Latin Music?  Or did you perhaps want to see a list of songs that could be danced to Cha Cha, Bachata, or Rumba but that are specifically 120 beats per minute?

You can do both of those pretty easily by using the Advanced Search page.  And then you can get back to your own searches by using the My Searches page.  But what if you want to share that cool list of songs with someone else?  You can do exactly what I’ve been doing here – do the search and then copy the link from the address bar in your browser.  That is a perma-link to the search that you just did and can be shared with anyone, anywhere.

As a bonus, if you’ve created an account, the searches that you share with your friends can include your likes and dislikes.  For instance, you can share a list of all Cha Cha songs that you have “liked”.  Or if you have a search you are particularly fond of but one of the songs just doesn’t work for you, you can unlike that song and then when you or your friends look at the list using the link you built you won’t see that song, and neither will your friends.

Feel free to share your favorite or most interesting searches here.  If enough people do that, we can add a new section for interesting searches to the site.

Farewell to Rio 2016, but we’ll always have the Samba

Now that the 2016 Olympics are over and the Paralympics are wrapping up, it seems like a good time to highlight the two dances that I’ve included in the music4dance catalog that originated in Brazil. Samba and Bossa Nova are closely related musically and have very similar characteristic rhythms, but the Samba is considerably faster than the Bossa Nova.  I’ve updated the catalogs for both dances and added a bunch of new (to me) songs for each dance, check them out:  Samba Song List, Bossa Nova Song List

If you have other songs that you think should be on these lists, feel free to let me know either as comment to this post or on the feedback page.  Or participate in the process by creating an account and voting songs up and down.

Before I leave the topic of the Paralympics, I wanted to give a shout out to one of my personal heroes – Kerri Morgan.

And back on topic (kind of ) – I just noticed that Wheelchair  Dance is a recognized sport in the Paralympics.  I’m off to watch some videos…

Mobile First improvements to the music4dance website

Most of the time that I use music4dance it’s on desktop computer, but I certainly want access to all of what it can do on my phone and tablet.  And I have tried to take what user interface designers call a “Mobile First” approach whenever possible.

But I noticed a while back that there are a few things that just weren’t working as well on smaller devices as I would like.  Several of them were on the core song list pages, which is particularly important.

So I finally took a couple of days off from other things and reworked these issues.

The Play Menu

The play menu (which is documented here) is now a modal which allows for bigger buttons and the ability to control the sample being played.

Play Menu
Play Menu (on the old site)
Play and Purchase
Play and Purchase Controls (new and improved)

Dance and Tag Menus

I’ve also converted the dance and tag menus (documented here) to modals.  This let me make the buttons bigger as well as adding some styling that I hope will let you navigate through options more easily.  The large chunks of text in the old interface were hard to distinguish even for the person that wrote them.

Dance Menu
Dance Menu (on the old site)
Play Menu
Dance Information (new and improved)
Tag Menu
Tag Menu (on the old site)
Tag Information
Tag Information (new and improved)

Let me know what you think.  Do you prefer the before or after?  Are there other aspects of the site that you find difficult to use on a small device?  Let me know by responding to this post or sending feedback.

Top Songs of 2015 — And what to dance to them.

What better than a top 100 list to end the year?  Since music4dance is about the intersection of music and dance, I’ve taken the Spotify top 100 songs of 2015 (for the USA) and cross referenced it with the music4dance catalog.

About of a third of the songs were already in the music4dance catalog and had been matched to dance styles.  Most of the others were songs that I could imagine partner dancing to, although some were a stretch.   I made a lot of use of the “Unconventional” tag to try to show that many of these songs don’t exhibit all of the traditional attributes of the music that these dances grew up with.  But that’s part of the fun of this project, and dancing in general – testing the limits of how music and dance fit together.

And of course, not all music is particularly suited to dancing of any kind.  So my version of Spotify’s top 100 list ended up being only 87 songs because those were the songs that I could match any kind of partner dance, even stretching the traditional definitions.

Here’s a link to that list.  You can build this link yourself (and try some variations) by going to the Advanced Search Form, clicking on the brown pencil (other) tag button in the “include tags” row of the form.  Then choose tags to include – in this case I chose “2015” and “Top 100“.  Clicking the search button will show the first page of the top 100 (errrr 87) songs and what dances I and others have matched with those songs.  Check out the documentation for more details.

One fun variation on this search is to add the tag DWTS (for Dancing With The Stars) to this search.  You end up with 21 songs that were both used in the last couple of seasons of DWTS and are on the Spotify Top 100 list for 2015.  Another fun thing to do is to add your favorite style of dance to the search,  if I added West Coast Swing to the Top 100 list, I’d end up with these 25 songs. (at least today – if other’s vote up songs as West Coast Swing, that number may change),

Do you disagree with my choice of dances for any of these songs?  I would love to see what you have to say.  Please feel free to comment on this post, or sign up or sign in to start tagging and voting on songs yourself.

Next year I expect that we’ll have enough activity to generate a top 100 list directly from the songs that you’ve chosen.

I am learning the Foxtrot, where can I find some music?

The quick answer is to just click this link where you will find a list of over a thousand songs that have been labeled as Foxtrot.

But that’s definitely not the full answer.  In that list you will find songs that are too fast or too slow for you to dance to because the Foxtrot is not just one dance style but a family of dances each of which can be danced to a different range of tempos.

When I first started dancing  my teachers were from a background that was influenced by American Smooth style of Ballroom dance.  So there was a very specific dance that I first learned as “The Foxtrot”.   This is what is more precisely known as American Style Foxtrot and the was danced in the range of 30 measures per minute plus or minus a bit depending on competition rules.

In order to answer the more precise question of what kind of music will work for the dance that you are learning, it helps to get a bit of a historical perspective.  The Foxtrot follows a pretty common pattern in how partner dances evolve.  A style is first danced socially and pulls in moves from multiple traditions.  Often something resembling the social dance is performed on stage by exhibition dancers as well.  As the style becomes established, teachers take it and formalize it and possibly simplify it for their students. Then social dancers start pulling in things from different traditions and the dance evolves.  Sometimes it gets renamed, and sometimes the dance with the same name is just danced differently depending on where and when a dancer learned the style.   And never forget the influence of the music that is evolving alongside the dances, perhaps speeding up or slowing down or changing in character in a way that influences how dancers dance to it.

In the case of the Foxtrot, two of the early influences were Peabody and the Tango.  The Peabody was a very fast “one step” dance, and the Tango was imported from Argentina via Paris.  Harry Fox is the exhibition dancer who lent the Foxtrot his name.  Vernon and Irene Castle are the teachers who first formalized the Foxtrot as well as using it in their performances.

Arthur Murray standardized the particular version of the Foxtrot that I learned.  He also revived the Peabody as a competition dance to occupy the fast end of the Foxtrot style dances, as he felt that it was more reasonable for students to learn than the slightly slower but more complicated Quickstep.

At some point Charleston influences crept in as a style dance-able to faster music developed, called appropriately, the Quickstep.

To round out this family of dance styles I’ve adopted the name Castle Foxtrot to represent the slowest variations.   Much of the music that I’ve cataloged as Castle Foxtrot has been labeled by others as Slow Dance, especially when it relates to Wedding Dances.  Many of the moves that are used in Foxtrot can be slowed down and made to stay in place  (or on spot) to create something that is much more elegant than the side to side swaying that I first “learned” as a slow dance.

Here is a snapshot of the Foxtrot filter of the music4dance Tempi Tool, as a jumping off point to help you find music in an appropriate tempo for your style of Foxtrot.  Just click on any of the tempo ranges to get Foxtrot music in that range.

Name Meter MPM BPM Type Style(s)
Castle Foxtrot 4/4 15-25 60-100 Foxtrot Social
Slow Foxtrot 4/4 28-34 112-136 Foxtrot American Smooth, International Standard
QuickStep 4/4 48-52 192-208 Foxtrot International Standard
Peabody 4/4 60-62 240-248 Foxtrot American Smooth

With the full tool on the music4dance site you can dig further into the relationship between dances and tempos.

Foxtrot was further complicated by the fact that it co-evolved very closely with swing and was often danced to the same music, or at least music played by the same bands.   I’ll take at look at what I’ve been categorizing as the Swing family of dances next.

Does this categorization help you at all in how you think about dancing and how it relates to music.  Is there a different way that you would slice and dice these dances?

One thing that I completely over-simplified in my description was the influence of regional traditions.  Would anyone from around the world care to shed some light on your regional influences to the Foxtrot?

Useful Links:

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.

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.