Tag Archives: Spotify

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.

Mobile First improvements to the music4dance website

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.

Play Menu
Play Menu (on the old site)
Play and Purchase
Play and Purchase Controls (new and improved)

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.

Dance Menu
Dance Menu (on the old site)
Play Menu
Dance Information (new and improved)
Tag Menu
Tag Menu (on the old site)
Tag Information
Tag Information (new and improved)

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.

Top Songs of 2015 — And what to dance to them.

What better than a top 100 list to end the year?  Since music4dance is about the intersection of music and dance, I’ve taken the Spotify top 100 songs of 2015 (for the USA) and cross referenced it with the music4dance catalog.

About of a third of the songs were already in the music4dance catalog and had been matched to dance styles.  Most of the others were songs that I could imagine partner dancing to, although some were a stretch.   I made a lot of use of the “Unconventional” tag to try to show that many of these songs don’t exhibit all of the traditional attributes of the music that these dances grew up with.  But that’s part of the fun of this project, and dancing in general – testing the limits of how music and dance fit together.

And of course, not all music is particularly suited to dancing of any kind.  So my version of Spotify’s top 100 list ended up being only 87 songs because those were the songs that I could match any kind of partner dance, even stretching the traditional definitions.

Here’s a link to that list.  You can build this link yourself (and try some variations) by going to the Advanced Search Form, clicking on the brown pencil (other) tag button in the “include tags” row of the form.  Then choose tags to include – in this case I chose “2015” and “Top 100“.  Clicking the search button will show the first page of the top 100 (errrr 87) songs and what dances I and others have matched with those songs.  Check out the documentation for more details.

One fun variation on this search is to add the tag DWTS (for Dancing With The Stars) to this search.  You end up with 21 songs that were both used in the last couple of seasons of DWTS and are on the Spotify Top 100 list for 2015.  Another fun thing to do is to add your favorite style of dance to the search,  if I added West Coast Swing to the Top 100 list, I’d end up with these 25 songs. (at least today – if other’s vote up songs as West Coast Swing, that number may change),

Do you disagree with my choice of dances for any of these songs?  I would love to see what you have to say.  Please feel free to comment on this post, or sign up or sign in to start tagging and voting on songs yourself.

Next year I expect that we’ll have enough activity to generate a top 100 list directly from the songs that you’ve chosen.