Tag Archives: EchoNest

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.

EchoNest Integration – Loads of new tempo, meter and other information to help you find music to dance to

I’ve cross indexed the music4dance catalog  with the EchoNest database and exposed some new features.

The most fundamental improvement is that EchoNest provides tempo and simple meter information.  So I’ve been able to add tempo information to a number of songs that I didn’t have cataloged that way before.  And I’ve also added the time signature tags to these songs.

But more importantly, EchoNest does some interesting analysis of the music to come up with some acoustic attributes to describe a song musically.  They are:

  • beat-10 Beat: An attempt to characterize the strength and consistency of the beat.
  • energyt-10 Energy: The intensity and power of the music – this is probably the most intuitive of the attributes.
  • mood-10 Mood: A measure of the mood from positive or happy down to sad or angry.

I am representing each of these attributes as a graphical column headed with an appropriate icon (drum for beat, flame for energy and smile for mood).  Each column is sortable both from high to low and low to high and when I have data for a song, the icon in that song’s row is ‘filled’ to a proportional amount.  EchoNest provides a number from 0 .0 to 1 .0 and I translate that into icons that are 0 to 100% filled (in 10 bands).

More information on this integration can be found on the help page.  Or just head over to the music library and start experimenting.

For instance, here is a snapshot of a list of songs that are tagged as “First Dance,” can be danced to some form of Foxtrot and contain the word “Love“.  They are sorted by “Beat” from strongest to weakest.  If you’re looking for a song to dance your first dance to and aren’t an experienced dancer, you probably want a strong beat.

EchoNest

What do you think?  Are there other acoustic attributes that I should include?  Would you like to be able to sort on multiple attributes on the same time or filter on one attribute and sort on another?  These are all entirely possibly, but I need your help to prioritize these features.  Please feel free to reply to this post or leave feedback with any thoughts you have on this set of features.