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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I recently heard from a customer that he was searching for “Oh, These Dark Eyes“ on the site and this is what he saw:
In fact, “Oh, These Dark Eyes” by Tango No. 9 is in the music4dance catalog, but it wasn’t even showing up on the first page. That seems crazy. And wrong.
After a little digging, I discovered my mistake. When I merged the Search Like Google feature into the default search I left the default sort set to “most recent”. So when you search for anything with a bunch of words in it, there will be a whole lot of results (in this case 464) and if I sort by anything other than closest match what I’m really looking for is likely to get lost like a needle in a haystack.
This should now be fixed. When you search by default you’ll get the most relevant results at the top of the page (just like a normal search engine). I’ve also added a “Closest Match” button to the search order possibilities on the Advanced Search Page which is the default.
So hopefully there will be less searching for needles in haystacks.
Thanks to the gentle customer that pointed out my mistake. I’m always looking for ways to improve the site so please feel free to send me feedback if anything looks like it’s not working the way you suspect. Even if it’s not an outright bug (like this one was), I’m happy to take feedback and see if I can make music4dance a more useful resource for you and others.
And lest you think I’ve dropped my head completely back into code and failed to continue to improve the content, I’ve added some more DWTS songs this week as well as digging up and integrating some fresh lists of ballroom music, including some fun new Cha-Cha, Rumba, and Tango songs. You can still find the most recent changes to the catalog by sorting by modified date. That’s the little pencil icon right below the “Advanced Search” text on any search results. Or if you want to get tricky and just find the songs that have been most recently added, you can go to the Advanced Search Page and choose “When Added” in the “Sort By” field.
I’ve just updated the music4dance site to make the new search engine the default (see What if I just want to search for songs on music4dance like I do on Google? and Search like Google Part II: Autocomplete, Filter by Dance Style and Sorting for some background). Anything you do on the site whether it’s browsing or searching you should be using the new features by default.
If you are having problems with the new search, for now you can go to the Music->Song Library->Legacy Search->Search (Legacy) or Music->Song Library->Legacy Search->Advanced Search pages to use the old methods of searching.
Give both a try and let me know what you think. I’ll leave both the new and the legacy search capabilities up on the site for a bit so that you can compare and contrast, but I’m working hard to test and get all of the functionality moved over to the new system so that I can delete the old one.
Bug reports are welcome here. If you end up having to use legacy search for any reason, please let me know. Also, if you land on pages that are marked ‘legacy’ without having gone to them explicitly, a bug report or email would be really helpful. And as always please submit any general feedback or suggestions here.
The Google Miniseries:
I’ve just updated the music4dance site with the remaining features for our search beta (see What if I just want to search for songs on music4dance like I do on Google? and Search like Google Part II: Autocomplete, Filter by Dance Style and Sorting for some background). You should now be able to take advantage of both the new features like auto-complete and simple Google/Bing style searches with all of the dance specific features like filtering by tempo and dance style using the Advanced Search Beta.
Give both a try and let me know what you think. I’ll leave both the beta and the legacy search capabilities up on the site for a bit so that you can compare and contrast. Bug reports are welcome here. And as always please submit any general feedback or suggestions here.
The Google Miniseries:
I am continuing to rebuild the music4dance database capabilities in the more intuitive style of current search engines like Google and Bing – the initial attempt at this is documented in this post.
Auto-complete is something everyone expects when searching these days. So if you were to type “Peab” into the search box on the simple search page you should see suggestions like the following pop-up:
- Peabo Bryson
- Tonight, I Celebrate My Love (feat. Peabo Bryson)
- Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle
- Peabo Bryson And Roberta Flack
- Love and Rapture: The Best of Peabo Bryson
And just like Bing or Google, clicking on the selection will take you to a list of songs that contain the selected text.
The thing that is a little different for music4dance than a generic search is that one might want to do combinations of things like a fragment of a title and a dance style name. I haven’t figured out an easy way to do that, but as always I’m open to suggestions.
Filter by Dance Style
But I can fall back to the original way that I landed on for just searching within a single dance style. So now on the Simple Search page, you can select a dance style from the drop down to the left of the search box and we’ll just show you results for that dance style. So if you select Cha Cha and then type “tea” into the search box you should get only songs that have the word tea somewhere in the description that have also been tagged as Cha Cha.
And finally, I’ve implemented sorting by Title, Artist, Tempo, Beat, Energy, Mood and Recency. Just click on the appropriate heading in the Simple Search Page, just like you did in the classic search page. I’m still looking for a reasonable way to sort by votes on dance style.
The Google Miniseries:
I know for me there are a few songs that I spent way too much time listening to while learning choreography or cutting medleys. I never want to hear them again, much less dance to them. And as much as I love music, there are some songs that I just don’t like right off the bat. So I don’t want either of these showing up time after time because other people find them to be particularly good Rumba or Foxtrot music.
Up to now that’s been a bit of a problem with the music4dance site since there wasn’t a way to explicitly like or not like a song, Everything was based on collective voting to match a song with a dance. But today I’ve added a feature where you can like and dislike a song. Then by default when you’re signed into the site, you won’t see those songs in your searches.
While I was at it, I added a few additional ways to filter searches based on how you’ve tagged and liked songs. Check them out on the Advanced Search page (remember you have to be signed into your account and have tagged or liked some songs for this to be useful).
And while you’re thinking about this, I have a question. What is a reasonable opposite of ‘like’ in this case? I’ve been using ‘not like’, but hate seems like it might be more accurate. Unlike and dislike were other options. But none of these seem quite right. If you’ve got any ideas, please comment on this post and let me know.