The Genius of Arthur Lange
The Spectrotone Chart™ was created by Academy Award® nominee Arthur Lange, the former head of the MGM Music Department.
Arthur Lange was a songwriter, composer, orchestrator and conductor who came out of Tin Pan Alley. He learned his craft through private studies and on the job.
He composed music for over 120 films, and orchestrated 105 more. He was nominated four times for an Oscar. But he never won one. In 1929, he became head of the music department at MGM. Throughout his career, he was music director at several studios and in 1947 organized the Santa Monica Civic Symphony which he conducted. He also helped create ASMAC, the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers.
Arthur was an educator and he wrote numerous books, including, for 1926, the definitive guide to dance band arranging called Arranging For the Modern Dance Orchestra. He taught at the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music which later became Cal Arts.
But Arthur also created a unique colorized chart called the Spectrotone Chart. Don’t be put off by the quaint name, because what Arthur created, which has daily practical use for both live and electronic scoring, and mixing, is nothing less than the Rosetta Stone of orchestration.
In his own words, the Spectrotone Chart is, “a colorgraphic exposition of tone-color combinations and balance as practiced in modern orchestration.”
Comes with two (2) detailed PDF training guides.
The Spectrotone Chart is a digital downloaded item,
that can be printed out on a variety of sized papers. On a home printer, the printer will resize so you can print out on 8.5x11, A4, and other other papers.
You can take the Spectrotone Chart to a printer such as Staples who have a poster-printer on site. On printout, the Spectrotone Chart is designed for a standard 18" x 24" poster sheet.
Spectrotone Chart instructions are sent to you via PDF download.
In Arthur Lange’s own words, the Spectrotone Chart is, “a colorgraphic exposition of tone-color combinations and balance as practiced in modern orchestration.”
The chart is organized by the 88 keys of the piano with each key numbered. The bottom A is 1, and the highest C is 88. Eight colors are used with the lowest pitches colored Purple and the highest, White. The simplistic view is that the chart follows the keys of the piano scale wise. But the real view is that the colors reflect not only the individual instrument’s range but also the intensity of the instrument’s sound as it’s played up the overtone series.
Below the keyboard, we added the Hz frequencies so that its full potential can also be realized in recording and mixing.
The color choices make a lot of sense enabling not only precision orchestral combinations, live and electronic, but also provides a gracious way to communicate with producers and directors in a language they’ll understand since each color has a single adjective to describe it.
White = Brilliant
Yellow = Bright
Green = Pleasant
Blue = Rich
Orange = Golden
Red = Glowing
Brown = Warm
Purple = Mellow
Grey = Dull
Black = Indefinite
Each tone color has an additional timbre description, here with multiple adjectives for greater definition.
Using the Spectrotone Chart™
The Spectrotone Chart has applications to any style of music. Use it when arranging, composing, recording or mixing. With its color coded approach, you can quickly work out combinations by instrument, by range, and by specific notes.
Combination possibilities include:
1. within a single section
2. combining sections
3. solo instruments contrasted against an ensemble
4.combinations that work well in unisons, octaves, thirds, sixths, and other open intervals
5. combinations that work well in multipart harmony
Combinations are organized by four broad categories:
Alexander Publishing’s Spectrotone Chart Instructions also includes the Dynamic Equivalents Chart which demonstrates combining woodwind, brass, and other instruments with varying-sized string ensembles.
The Spectrotone Chart also teaches about intensity. As an instrument’s sound goes higher up the scale, there are timbre changes with color, intensity, and sound.
For mixing purposes and applying EQ, we’ve added the Hz frequencies for each pitch under the music note display.
The Spectrotone Chart is a must have for all arrangers, composers and recording engineers.