Tag Archives: 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: General Search

I’ve finally added a feature that should really be a part of any good website. A general search of the entire site is available by typing one or more keywords in the search box in the upper right and clicking search. Try it out, and let me know what you think.

As I continue to improve music4dance, I find myself torn between making things easier for new or casual members of the site and deeper features that may only be used by more dedicated members. I tend to lean towards the latter because they are often the features that I use or the features based on feedback from members who have been using the site a lot. But I would love to get more people involved, which means making the initial experience as seamless as possible.

Search is pretty much the core feature of this site. The idea is, after all, to try to help partner dancers find music that inspires them to dance. I’ve invested a lot in the search engine that lets you search for songs and made a big push to make the core search work better. But in the meantime, I’ve written many blogs posts, some help pages, and added other content to the site that isn’t directly embedded in the song catalog.

So how do you search for any of the other information? And for that matter, if you’re a first-time user of the site, shouldn’t you be able to search the whole site easily without clicking through to a search page from the home page?

Some technical issues made this a bit more challenging than it would appear. Not the least of which is that the blog and help system are actually an entirely different site using a different technology that I have less control over. But after going down a few different paths, I think I’ve got something that I’m happy with. It could still use some work, and a couple of things about it feel a little kludgy. But I feel like it’s a significant improvement, especially for a first-time user. It also enables a full-text search of the core site, which will let me invest more in content that isn’t directly part of the song catalog. I’ve got a bunch of things I’ve been thinking about along those lines that I haven’t implemented because I was worried they’d be buried without a generalized search.

So as I mentioned at the beginning of this post. You should be able to just type a keyword or two into the search control in the header (or under the hamburger menu if you’re on a smaller device), and you’ll be taken to a search results page. That page is a little more complicated than I’d like but hopefully pretty effective.

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.

Who else likes to dance to this song (and what do they dance to it)?

As I browse the music4dance catalog and find a song I like, it’s nice to be able to see who added it and use that as a way to find other songs that I might like.  To this end, I’ve added a new section to the song details page called Changes that lists the changes people (and the bots/scrapers that I’ve written) have made to the song.

For instance, I like dancing East Coast Swing to Demi Lovato‘s Confident.  If I look that up in the music4dance catalog (I can just search for that on the catalog page) – I can go to the song details by clicking on the title of the song and then look for the new Changes section in the lower right.

This shows me that ZacharyPachol, BatesBallooom and JonathanWolfgram have all voted for this song to be danced as an East Coast Swing.  So I can, for instance, click on ZacharyPachol and get to a list of all songs that he has voted on.  I can then click on “Change Search” to filter the list down to East Coast Swing songs that ZacharyPachol has voted on.  Or I can just click on any East Coast Swing tag in the original search and choose to filter the list that way.

Even as I write this, I see that there are several ways I might want to improve this feature.  But I have a limited amount of time and so many ideas, so please let me know if you find the feature useful and if you would like improvements. Also, I’m very interested in getting more direct participation in rating songs (the site is currently built much more on automation than direct user participation) – so let me know what would make rating songs interesting to you.

P.S. There are about ten other things I’d like to say about this, but I’m trying to keep this short so I can get out more posts.  But I can’t resist noting that you can also see that this song was used on Dancing with the Stars to dance Paso Doble and Ballroom Tango – a good example of how one can use a song for a performance piece that you might not want to dance (that dance style to) socially.

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.

Is Simple Better?

I’m making a good deal of progress on updating the music4dance site to more modern technologies.  The main reason for doing this, as I’ve noted before, is to make it easier to add new functionality.

While I’m still in transition, it seems like a good time to get feedback on the new look.  I’m going for the simpler is better concept.  Where the old site had a different color for each section, the new pages are all themed in the same way.  I’ve also dropped back to using standard fonts and styles.  Among other things, it’s faster to do it this way (which will let me get to new features more quickly), it’s more accessible, and it is generally the direction I’m trying to go with things like simplifying search.

As of now (August of 2020), I’m about halfway through the transition.  Pretty much all of the pages except for the core pages that include song lists and the home page are converted.  So you can compare a page like the song library page (old style) to one like the ballroom page.  Or you can compare the dance style page to the help for the dances style page (which still contains an image of the old page).

So what do you think?  Old or new?  It’s not too late for me to add back in some of the customization if you think that’s a key part of what makes music4dance a place you spend time.

Oh, and while I’m at it – can I get feedback on how useful the help pages are?  I’ve not written help for all of the functionality and I haven’t bothered to convert help pages where the functionality is close to the original even if the look is different.  But if I get feedback that they are particularly useful, I’ll prioritize help higher.

As always, feedback is always welcome on any part of the site.

Quick Tip: If you’re looking for music that is within the specific tempo guidelines for NDCA or DanceSport guidelines, you can find links on the ballroom page.  Each of the tables on that page links to lists of songs listed at the correct tempo for that 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.

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.