On a normal year, this would be a bit late for my normal Holiday Music blog post. But if you’re like me, you’re not planning to participate in a holiday dance party in the middle of a pandemic. So it’s more of a case of thinking about past and future years. There is no need to find a specific song for a routine or build a set list for a dance. But I would still like to listen to holiday music at home and maybe play with a few dance moves.
In any case, I’m continually working to improve the music4dance experience and this time of year concentrating a bit on holiday themes seems appropriate. The main thing I’ve done with the holiday music pages is to update them to the new system. Hopefully they are easier to read and work with in general. I’ve also explicitly excluded “Halloween” music, since one tends to want to separate out that from the Christmas and other winter holiday music. I’ve also updated the music4dance playlists on Spotify to reflect the larger catalog.
As of this writing there are 517 songs in the holiday catalog, up from 446 songs last year. If you are interested in helping build the catalog further, here are some things you could do:
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 me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me through the feedback form.
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 of this writing
the publicly visible music4dance
catalog contains just over twenty seven thousand songs. But the underlying index contains well over
forty six thousand songs. So what’s the
deal with the missing twenty thousand songs?
These are song listings that I’ve pulled in one way or another but
aren’t complete in some way.
All of the songs must have been matched to an entry in one of the publisher catalogs that we search.
I believe that these
are perfectly reasonable constraints and help to reduce confusion for a novice
user. However, there is a whole lot of information indexed in our catalog that
people aren’t seeing and could be of some use.
One of the things that people often do on the site is to search for ideas for songs to dance to. They will search for an artist name or a fragment of the title of a song and see what comes up. This works great, but of course, the more songs that can be searched the more likely that you’ll get a useful idea. The songs that are in the bonus section have had less scrutiny, many of them probably have small typos or other inaccuracies in the title or artist that prevented them from being matched to a publisher’s catalog. Or they might be obscure songs that just aren’t as easily available on Spotify or Amazon. In either case, I think getting to these additional songs is useful to the expert user sleuthing for the interesting or obscure song to choreograph to or surprise their dancers with.
Another case is
where someone is looking for a song of a particular tempo but doesn’t
necessarily need it to be specifically for one of the dance styles that we
currently catalog. This might be because
they’re looking for something to dance to in a different style that might have
a specific tempo requirement but doesn’t
necessarily have some of the other requirements for partner dancing. One case that comes to mind is tap dance
music, but I’m sure there are others.
One could potentially use this for finding running or exercise music of
a specific tempo.
If you’re interested
in exploring this, here’s how:
As always, I’m interested in your feedback. Please let me know if this feature seems useful to you. Or even better, let me know how you use this feature so that I can add that to common use cases and blog about it in the future.
One of the things I enjoy most about the musci4dance project is when I get feedback from people who have found the site useful. I’m especially happy when it comes from a direction that I don’t expect. It’s exactly that kind of feedback that I received from Mister “D” (David Simmerly) – a musician who performs for Ballroom clubs and weddings and was looking to expand his repertoire with music that would be well received in those contexts.
I asked Dave to expand a little on how he used music4dance and (paraphrasing) here are a few of the things that he came back with:
I search for songs that I already have to see what kind of dance music4dance says it is
I listen to your snippets of songs to see if it is something I might want to add to my repertoire.
The first and second points led to an extended discussion about songs that are listed as Waltzes but are not in 3/4 time – check out my blog post on “Fake” Waltzes for more on that.
But there is a more general point that I would like to make here with respect to “correctness” of music for dance. I’ve compiled this catalog with an eye for finding music that inspires dancers to dance. This makes for a very loose definition of what songs “work” to dance a particular dance to. In a setting where a dancer is choreographing to a specific piece of music, even when that choreography is a traditional ballroom dance like in Dancing With the Stars, there is quite a bit of latitude in what music will “work”. Whereas in a social situation the dancers are more dependent on the beat and feel of the music to enjoy the experience of partnering in a specific dance style. And then of course when one is dancing competition rounds, there are even stricter rules about tempo.
In any case, I hope that many of the songs in the music4dance catalog fall into the category (as Mr. “D” says) of “making your pants want to get up and dance.” In the future, I hope to do a better job of tagging dances in a way that separates the strictly ballroom from the fun to choreograph to from the great songs for social dancing. The system is at least theoretically set up to do this since I’ve enabled arbitrary tagging of songs. It’s a big project to go through each song in an 11,000+ song catalog and make the kind of distinction I’m talking about here. On the other hand, it is exactly the kind of thing that works well when others jump in to add their own ideas to the mix.
As always, I welcome your feedback and participation. Thanks to David Simmerly for permission to use his name and information in this post. If you’re in the midwest and are looking for a great solo entertainer for your Ballroom Club, Wedding Reception or another occasion, you can find him on gigsalad.com.
I, like many, am mourning and listening to Prince‘s music. Over and over again.
Since I’ve been thinking a lot about music and partner dancing recently, this lead me to think about what I would dance to each song. Especially when Leader of the Band popped up in my playlist and screamed Cha-Cha at me. Of course a lot of his seminal work has more of a blues feel that I would associate with West Coast Swing (or possibly even more directly blues dancing). But there are certainly some things in his catalog that one might Quickstep to (Let’s Go Crazy) or dance a Slow Foxtrot (Strollin‘) to.
Here’s a link to the list of Price songs currently in the music4dance catalog. If you’ve got other favorites (along with what you would dance to them) let me know by responding to this post or sending feedback and I’d be happy to add them. Or sign in and vote on what style you would dance to the songs already in the catalog.
The Prince Feature
One of the things that I noticed as I was looking for Prince music in the music4dance catalog was that I hadn’t implemented an artist page of any kind. You could search for Prince but you would both get everything I had catalog by Prince and everything by Prince Royce songs with Prince in the title. So I did a quick fix – if you click an artist’s name you’ll be taken to a page with a list of the first 100 songs I’ve catalog by that artist. Since I’m only tracking artist by the full name this has a couple of implications, one of which is that Leader of the Band won’t show up under Prince since the artist is actually “Sheila E. featuring Prince and The E Family.”
You can, of course, still search for Prince and manually go through the songs to find the ones that actually involve Prince, but that’s obviously not the perfect solution. How much does this matter to you? Is it important to have a more specific idea of artist when you’re sorting through songs to dance to?
As always, please send me feedback or just respond to this post with any issues or ideas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Music4Dance was conceived to help dancers find music that inspires them to dance. My posts about this from last year are still right on point even if the screenshots are a bit out of date. I have been adding capabilities to the music4dance advanced search control as they are suggested and as time permits. And it got a bit out of control, so to speak. As of yesterday, that control looked like this:
Much improved, no? Basic documentation is available here and we’ll be updating the rest of the affected documentation shortly. We’re also looking at other advanced search features. Saving your searches and making it easier to filter on songs that you have tagged are two of our top candidates. What else would you like to see? Please let me know by leaving feedback in the comments section of this page or via our feedback form.
After several rounds of closed beta, I’m ready to open up the account management and tag editing features as public betas.
The tag editor is the first of a number of features that I’m planning that will enable you to customize your music4dance experience. With the tag editor you can tag songs and the relationships between songs and dance styles based on your own tastes and then use the tag filtering tools to create song lists based on your own tags as all the tags already in the system. In addition, just the act of tagging a song adds it to your master list of songs.
Get started by registering. Then take a quick look at the documentation and get started. Or for the more daring among you, just start tagging songs and see what happens.
Thanks for trying this feature. Please submit bugs and feature requests with our bug report form.