Tag Archives: Spotify

New Feature: Searching for only the songs that someone has voted for

Arne pointed out the other day that it would be useful to be able to build a playlist for just the songs that he had voted for dancing Cha Cha. I scratched my head a bit because I thought this was already possible. I even added a feature last year to make it easier to see who has voted on dance styles for songs so that you could look for other songs that a user voted on.

I should have noticed that you can search for a dance and that someone has tagged it in some way. But you can’t specify that someone has voted for a particular dance. They might have voted against the dance or just tagged the song with another kind of tag, and someone else voted for the song, so it still shows up in the search.

This wasn’t too bad when the catalog was relatively small and when you’re just looking at search results to find ideas for songs to dance to. 

However, things have gotten worse over time for a couple of reasons.

In Arne’s case, he wanted to export a playlist to Spotify of songs that he explicitly voted for Cha Cha. Using advanced search, he can choose Cha Cha then search “By User” and “Include all songs arne has tagged.” This search resulted in 50 songs, only 26 of which he had voted for Cha Cha. On that list were songs that he had explicitly voted against and a number that he had just voted for other dances.

The new feature is to add an option to the “By User” section of advanced search to “Include all songs [user] has voted for [dance].” In this case, choosing “Include all songs arne has voted for Cha Cha” yields the correct 26 songs he voted for.

The other case this feature solves is that as the catalog grows, there is more variety in how people vote on songs, so there is more noise. For instance, searching for the songs that DWTS (Dancing With the Stars) has tagged that someone has also voted for Cha Cha results in 305 songs, while searching specifically for the songs that DWTS has voted for Cha Cha results in only 130 songs.

Thanks, Arne, for pointing this out and helping to make music4dance more useful for everyone.

As always, I’m very interested in your feedback, so please share any thoughts and ideas 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 makes sense for you.

P.S. The DWTS list is a list I maintain, and any mistakes in are mine. I use a semi-automated method of scraping the published information about the dances each week to populate the information in muic4dance. DWTS, in particular, is challenging because the music they dance to is generally covers performed by their house bands, so they don’t always match the tempo of the available recordings. Please let me know about any mistakes you see.

New Feature: Searching for a song from Spotify or iTunes

A new member of the music4dance community, Arne, pointed out that he expected to be able to search by Spotify Id. Furthermore, he figured out how to do that by going to the Add Song by Id and dragging the song from Spotify into the edit field on that page.

This is a case of programmer myopia on my part. I wrote all of the code to look up a song in the Spotify and iTunes catalog with the idea of (a) being able to link back to those catalogs and then (b) to make it easier to add songs to the music4dance catalog. I didn’t really think that someone would want to look for a song they were playing in Spotify or Apple Music in the music4dance catalog. Actually – I did, but the way I was thinking about that was a much bigger feature that I may never get around to implementing.

What clicked in my slow programmer brain when I saw Arne’s question was that I had most of the code for a really cool feature but hadn’t seen the opportunity to implement it since I had this much more grandiose feature in my head. After the obligatory forehead slap and exclamation of “Duh!” I set about seeing how easy it would be to use what I had already written to implement a reasonably smooth version of what our Arne was doing.

It was definitely straightforward – a bit of refactoring and a few dozen lines of new code, and I’ve got something that I think is pretty slick. But I’ll let you judge:

When listening to a song in Spotify or  Apple Music, drag the song from the player and drop it into the text box on the top of either the Song Library page or the Advanced Search page. If the song is in the music4dance catalog, we’ll take you directly to the song page and show you what others have voted on to dance to that song. If it’s not already in the library, we’ll give you the option to add the song yourself.

As always, I’m very interested in your feedback. As should be obvious from this post, your feedback is essential to making music4dance better. In addition, I read every piece of feedback that comes through and respond to as much as I can. 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: 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.

Ask music4dance: Can I export music4dance playlists to play locally?

I’ve been thinking about the concept of music4dance since long before streaming services like Spotify existed, so the idea of generating playlist that could be played against files locally on my computer has certainly been on my radar.

But the quick answer to this question is, unfortunately, no.

The longer answer is (of course) that it’s complicated.  The most recent person to ask about this specifically was interested in exporting to .m3u files to be used in ballroomDJ.  So I’ll use that as an example, but the general issue that I’m about to outline applies to all of the local players and playlist formats that I’ve encountered. 

The problem is that local playlist formats generally use file paths to locate the media that they play.  Since most of the information that I’ve compiled in music4dance comes from streaming and commerce services, I have no idea what the filename might be for the songs in the catalog, much less where on disk it my be hiding.

Quite some time ago, I wrote some experimental code that will take a list of song title and artist and search through a local music library in order to attempt to match and create a usable playlist.  This worked reasonably well, and when I added possible albums and song length to do some disambiguation it worked a little better.  But it wasn’t close to 100% and I’m struggling for a way to generalize that to run on anyone’s system without writing a player of my own.

In any case, I’m not writing about this question just to say that the answer is hard.  I’m interested in your feedback in two ways. 

  1. Does anyone have any leads on a media player that does a decent job of consuming some online description of a playlist and matching it to local media?  I certainly haven’t done a full survey of the possibilities recently, so I may be missing something that could help solve this problem.
  2. How useful would this be for you?  If enough people express interest in this I’ll push it up in my queue.

As a slight aside, I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to point out that I did get this working for Spotify playlists. While that doesn’t solve the exact problem for those who use local media libraries, it’s very cool for Spotify users. Read about that in this post: Create a Spotify Playlist.

As always if you have comments or suggestions please feel free to reply to this post or contact me here.  And let me know if you like the Q&A blog format.  If you do, send me more questions to answer, please!

Create a Spotify Playlist

One of my initial goals with music4dance was to be able to create playlists to dance to.  I can finally say that I’ve got this working in a way that is close to my original vision at least for Spotify.

The idea is, for instance, that I’d like to build a playlist of Foxtrot songs that are on the faster end of the spectrum (say 132-136bpm) and further limit the list to songs that are in the pop genre.  I’ve had the system in place for a long time to generate search results for a list like this from the advanced search page

The new and exciting thing is that when you get the results of this search, there is a button at the bottom labeled “Create Spotify Playlist.” Clicking on that button will bring you to a page where you can name the playlist and choose the number of songs from the search results to include.  More help on this feature is available here.

Creating a custom playlist is a premium feature.  But you can take advantage of all of the standard playlists by checking out the music4dance profile on Spotify.

As always, I welcome feedback both on this post and the site in general.  I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to the site in any of the many possible ways.  And if you enjoy the site please consider contributing in any way that makes sense to you.

Dance Pride

Each year Spotify does a number of fun playlists in support of Pride weekend.  With this being the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, they pulled out all the stops. 

Not surprisingly, there is a lot of overlap between these playlists and songs that are great for partner dancing.  And I’m not just talking about disco music.  I’ve been listening to several of these playlists including Pride Classics and Disco Fever.  The surprise is that it wasn’t until the end of Pride month that it occurred to me that it would be fun and possibly useful to cross reference some of the Pride playlists with the music4dance catalog.

But better late than never.  Click here to see the full list.  You can get to the pride catalog anytime by going to the “Music” menu, choosing the “Tags” option and then finding the “Pride” button.  Clicking on that will pop up a menu that will let you list all the songs tagged as “Pride.”  I’ve also added tags for the specific playlists that Spotify built, so you can use the same method to get to the Disco Fever, Pride Classics or Fierce playlists.

Remember, there is a lot of subjectivity to what someone finds to be a danceable song.  So please sign in and express your opinion by voting on that for your favorite songs and dances. 

If you’re a premium member you can see the full Spotify lists, even the ones that we didn’t already have cross-referenced, by clicking the “Change Search” button on the results and then choosing “Not categorized by dance” and then “Search.”  Then you could go and add what you would dance to any of the songs that are uncategorized.

As always, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Holiday Music for Partner Dancing (Take 2)

It’s that time of year again – people are searching for holiday music for showcases and holiday party dances.   So I decided to take another round at what I could do to improve that experience on the music4dance website.  Take a quick look at my post from last year since that is still 100% applicable.  Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

You’re back?  Great!  As you can see, I took some pretty big shortcuts to get the Holiday Music page up before Christmas last year.  This year I spent a little while to improve the page.

First, I made the pages work like the other song search pages so that you get 25 songs at a time and can scale up to much longer searches.  There are only 261 songs on the main Holiday Music page as of this writing, but I hope to get that number up to the point where loading them all on one page is prohibitive.

Second, I added the functionality to list all of the Holiday Music for an individual dance style.  So if you are choreographing a routine for Quickstep or Rumba, you can now list just the Holiday Quickstep or the Holiday Rumba songs.

Over the course of this holiday season, I hope to add more music.  If you are interested in helping, here are a couple of things you can try:

  • Sign up for our add song beta and add holiday songs yourself.
  • Browse our music catalog and tag songs as Holiday when you find them.
  • If you have a list of holiday songs categorized by dance style that you are willing to share, please send us an email at info@music4dance.net or contact us through our feedback form.

I’ll also get things set up to push these lists out to Spotify soon.

As always if you have comments or suggestions please feel free to reply to this post or contact me here.

Playing songs from the music4dance catalog

One of the coolest things about the music4dance website was the ability to use the embedded Spotify player to play the results of a search.  For instance, I could go to the site and list all the songs that are listed as Slow Foxtrot and also tagged as genre rock and order them from slow to fast like this.   Then I’d be able to play the songs in the embedded Spotify player.

Unfortunately, Spotify turned off the feature that allowed me to do this and I’ve been wracking my brain and searching the web for viable alternatives.  You can still go to the play buttons for individual songs and play a 30-second sample, most songs in the catalog have a sample available thanks to either Apple or Spotify.  This works pretty well if you’re using the site to find an idea for a song for a routine, which is pretty common.  You can also use the Amazon button to click through to the Amazon site and play a sample there.

As an aside, if you buy the song from Amazon through a link from the site a small percentage of the purchase price goes to support the music4dance site.  So, by all means, please do this whenever you find music that you want to purchase via the site.  Another interesting aspect of Amazon’s program is that if you buy something during that session, even if it wasn’t something that I directly linked to from the site, music4dance still gets a (very small) slice of that purchase.

But I still want to be able to listen to a full playlist of songs from the site.  I haven’t found a full replacement, but I have a partial fix in place now.  I can generate a static playlist based on part of the music4dance catalog and embed players that point to the playlists.  I’ve implemented this for each of the dances pages.  So go ahead and browse through to try the embedded Spotify player for your favorite dance.

This solution also has the advantage that these playlists are available directly via Spotify.  You can go to the music4dance Spotify Account and browse the public playlists there directly.  Go ahead and follow the music4dance account or the individual playlists to make it easy for you to find them in the future.

If there are other song lists on the music4dance site that you are interested in seeing as Spotify Playlists, let me know by responding to this post or sending feedback and I’ll add them to my queue.

Farewell to Groove Music

Microsoft is “retiring” its Groove Music Service (aka Xbox Music aka Zune).  Why am I blogging about this?  Partly it is because I just removed support from Groove from music4dance. Partly because that service was part of the reason that music4dance evolved the way that it did.  But mostly it is because there is some overlap between music4dance users and Groove subscribers.  Approximately 15% of users that expressed a music service preference checked the Groove Music box as one of the options.  So for those of you that are Groove Music subscribers, please make sure to check out the Spotify migration option before the January 31st, 2018.

In any case, you’ll no longer see the Groove Music symbol in the play or purchase song options on the site.  Spotify, iTunes and Amazon Music are still fully supported though, so most songs can be located in at least one of those catalogs.

The other statistic I noticed while checking on Groove usage is that only about 25% of registered music4dance users have expressed a preference for any music service.  So if you’ve got a minute please head to your profile page and let me know which music services you use.  This helps me prioritize features.  And if you use a service that I’m not currently listing, please send me feedback directly and I’ll add it to the list of choices.

Tango, Argentine Tango, Ballroom Tango, Oh My!

I just took a beginning Argentine Tango class and really enjoyed the experience.  I’ve had some experience with Ballroom Tango (American Style) and even taken a little Argentine Tango before, but this particular class really underlined the difference in the actually dance style.  Searching the web, I find plenty of evidence for this.

From the musical perspective, I found that I would be comfortable dancing Ballroom Tango to most of what the instructors played for Argentine Tango.  The character of the music seems very much the same.  The tempo was definitely slower than I would choose, but it was a beginner’s class after all.  The beat was less clear in many of the songs than I would expect in a Ballroom tango played at a school, club or competition, which was surprising.  This was a beginner’s class after all.

Now that I think about it, the Spotify EchoNest integration in music4dance could shed some light on the subject of strength of beat.  You can do an informal analysis yourself:

  1. Go to the songs library page.
  2. Choose Argentine Tango.
  3. Click on the strength of beat sort (the header icon that looks like a drum) once for ascending and twice for descending order.
  4. This will get you a list of the (currently) 578 songs that have been classified specifically as Argentine Tango sorted by the strength of beat.
  5. Or just click here to see the list.
  6. In a separate window repeat step’s 1-4 substituting Ballroom Tango for step 2 to get the 438 Ballroom Tango songs that have “strength of beat” information.
  7. Or just click here.

Now you can see the lists of Argentine Tango and Ballroom Tango both sorted by strength of beat.  At a quick glance the distribution seems pretty similar, but if anyone is at all interested let me know via a comment to this blog and I will be happy to do a slightly more formal analysis.

The other aspect of Tango music for dancers that this brought up was where to draw the line on calling something generically Tango vs. Ballroom Tango vs. Argentine Tango, etc.  I am currently calling anything a Tango that someone has tagged as any kind of Tango, which I think is fair.  Often people will just call something just Tango if they are from a particular community and I think that’s fair too.

If you are interested in stretching your reach and finding all Tangoes of whatever classification that fit a specific tempo criteria, you can use advanced search to choose generic Tango as the dance and choose a tempo range you’re interested in.  Or if you’re a Ballroom dancer you can go to the Competition Ballroom Dancing page and just click on the tempo range for the category of Ballroom Tango that you’re interested in.  I’ve set things up with the current official tempos for DanceSport and NDCA competition classes.

Speaking of official tempos.  Although I’ve found quite a number of sites that advertise and even provide rules for Argentine Tango competitions, I have yet to find anything that defines any kind of official tempo ranges for the music played at the competitions.  I suspect this is something fundamentally different about those competitions.  However, if I’m missing something and there are such official ranges, please let me know and I’ll incorporate them into the site.

And as always, please let me know what I’ve missed.  This is a very nuanced subject and I would love to hear other perspectives.  Feel free to comment on this post or send feedback directly.