How to add dances info to recordings?

I am into folk music which is a genre of traditional (mainly European) music for dancing and I am looking to the proper way to add the name of the dances to the recording (there are a lot of different dances, here is a personal list for illustration).

The ideal features for such a task would be:

  • easily searchable (should not live in the same namespace as other data like tags, or they should have a prefix)
  • should be injected in file tags by tools like Picard
  • case sensitive (they may contain proper nouns like cities, e.g. rondeau de Samatan)
  • translatable entries (the names or their spelling may differ according to the language, e.g. waltz in English, valse in French)
  • multiple dances in a single recording (we can probably use the / separator already used for titles)

For now I have started to use tags with a dance: prefix with English names (when it makes sense) but I believe there should be (or already is) a better solution.


I think using a “dance:” tag prefix is a perfect solution. A possible way to do what you want though, could be to add a work attribute for this. I’m not sure how I feel about this though.

Oh, and that list of yours is missing a lot of entries! :slight_smile: (Source: being a folk musician and dancer of >13 years.)

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Sure it’s missing a lot of entries, it’s only the dances I know good enough :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m not so sure about tags:

  • they are lowercase which makes it hard to distinguish proper nouns
  • no i18n support, how should I write branle d’Ossau in a multilanguage friendly way?
  • no centralized edition: scottish should be written scottische in English, how can I fix it easily without having to edit each recordings?

I wouldn’t be opposed to a “dance type” field on Work (which seems the logical place for it), alongside work type.

Before I start ranting (little in-joke there);

Has anyone got an example of this being done on other music track databases?

I think there are many people that a multiple entry “dance type” field would be very attractive to.,, Folkets Hus Spillefolk’s “tune collection”, and most other (North-Western) folk/trad. tune collections group tunes by tune type. Granted, this is not “per dance” per se, but most tune types are associated with a general type of dance/dance style (e.g., you typically dance polska to polskas, polka to polkas, waltz to waltzes, jig to jigs, … - not always, but often):
FolkWiki | Låttyper / Låttyper
Traditional Irish tunes on The Session
Nodesamlingen – Folkets Hus Spillefolk (and also Danse – Folkets Hus Spillefolk for dance descriptions)

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But will a single work ever be associated with 2 different dances? I’m inclined to think not (it probably would have to be rearranged for that, making it a new, derived, work), but am not sufficiently versed in folk music to be sure.

If not, the “Dance Type” field on Work continues to make sense.
If so, it may need to be set up like instruments, with a work-dance AR “is typically used to dance a/is the typical dance for”.

The field wouldn’t just be folk dances within about 20 seconds of the social dance community discovering that it existed (IMO).
Tango can be danced to any(?) 4/4 music. Waltz to 3/4. I went looking for Bob Seeger’s songs categorized by dance type and found this list of Ballroom Dance Song Suggestions instead.

There is a lot of them out there. :dancer:
They could perhaps be a highly motivated demographic for MB.

I think it does not matter if a given recording can be danced in multiple ways, what matter is the artist (interpreter) intent.

And there can be multiple dances for a single recording just like there can be multiple titles.

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I think more important than that is the actual usage and for which dances a song is suited. So if the artist had a certain dance in mind when creating the song, but the song is very popular for a different dance where it fits in, it is appropriate to add both dance types to it. Same is obviously true where the artist did not think about dances at all.

What I see as a difficulty here in general is to come up with a comprehensive list of dances (if this gets implemented it would obviously be not limited to just folk dances), but it is a similar problem to e.g. instruments and we handle that reasonably well.

I’d want to avoid Recording-Dance ARs; Work-Dance seems more appropriate.
I do worry that adding a general “is suitable for” Work-Dance AR would cause non-evidence-based metadata (we think these dances fit, so we add them) that might drown out the evidence-based/artist-intent data.

For folk music at least, (cfr. works (tunes) tend to have specific dance types associated with them, which is more useful information than “this dance fits”.
Maybe an initial step would be to introduce work subtypes for certain work types; a first case could be a new work type “Tune” which would then have things like “Reel”, “Hornpipe”, “Slip Jig”. This could then be extended for other work types. (Related STYLE ticket:

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I know of some Danish folk dances that can be danced as either a couple’s dance or a “tur-dans” and sometimes even a third type. Sometimes due to evolution of how the tune is used, sometimes due to varying traditions, sometimes for other reasons.

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One advantage of this approach is that it exposes all the recordings of a particular work.

Will individual songs in a music collection be tagged by dance type if this approach is used?
If not it then utility of “dance type” to the majority of possible users will be limited.

The spectre of folksonomy genre tagging is raised by a general “is suitable for dance type” field. But limiting such a field to artist-intent data would seem to remove +99% of utility.

Which leaves “evidence based data”. What evidence would be acceptable? Will that be available for recent releases?

A working DJ’s opinion would be very good evidence if we could get it. Can we get mass “DJ’s opinions” online (yet)?

I’m not sure if Picard has a ‘use work relationship’ option yet, but that wouldn’t be too hard to add I suppose.

Absolutely. I know of arrangements of Memory (from Cats) for at least Viennese Waltz, Slow Waltz, Tango, and Rumba. There are also recordings that you can dance different dances to, because they are polyrhythmic. It’s definitely not a property of the work.

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You can dance anything to anything, given a good (or bad…) enough dancer. Just because I can tango to a polka, break to a pop song, or slängpolska to anything it does not mean that the polka is a tango dance work etc.

So, what is the “true dance” for Memory, in your opinion?


Can we get beyond folksonomy “dance type” tagging for any types of dance?
Are there types of dance that we can’t get beyond folksonomy “dance type” tagging?
What does “good enough” data look like?