About the Course
ORDER THE MASTER COURSE IF YOU DO NOT OWN A REGISTERED COPY OF THE SPECTROTONE CHART™ FROM ALEXANDER PUBLISHING.
1. With seven video lectures totaling 3.78 hours of instruction;
2. The Spectrotone Chart in PDF format that you can print out on either 8.5” x 11” paper (or larger depending on your home or office printer) or 18” x 24” poster size;
3. plus PDF booklets with supporting material...
in a short weekend afternoon with the Visual Orchestration 1: Spectrotone Course, you’ll learn a boatload of practical writing concepts that you’ll use every time you begin creating music, whether for live ensemble or for a MIDI mock-up.
About Visual Orchestration 1
Visual Orchestration 1: Spectrotone Course™ is a short course in orchestration with seven well thought out video lectures giving you valuable professional scoring information rarely, or if ever taught, in orchestration courses. The information is directly applicable to both live performance and MIDI mock-ups.
Stylistically, you can apply Visual Orchestration 1: Spectrotone Course™ insights to orchestral ensembles (small or large), string quartets and quintets, woodwind ensembles, brass ensembles, trombone choirs, percussion ensembles, concert bands, jazz big bands, horn sections, and MIDI mock-ups when using orchestral sample libraries.
No textbook is required.
By the end of the Visual Orchestration 1: Spectrotone Course™, whether you read music or create by ear, you’ll have been taught a new common sense tool kit explained in MIDI-speak that can absolutely transform how you currently score, whether for live performance or MIDI Mock-ups.
For those who want to learn orchestration by ear, Visual Orchestration 1 is the ticket because you don't have to read music to learn a lot to do a lot as it combines instrumentation, orchestration, composition and some recording information. That’s because Visual Orchestration 1 distills the core principles of orchestrating so that the ability to read music is not required. The focus is on the things you do by ear using the Spectrotone Chart as your visual guide.
But for those who do read music, you’ll find that Visual Orchestration 1 covers advanced concepts rarely taught in the college classroom, especially in the practical application of counterpoint, and creating combinations.
That’s because the Visual Orchestration 1: Spectrotone Course teaches you by emphasizing the aural aspects of orchestration which is the heart of orchestrating whether you read music or create by ear. That’s because all orchestration, every single bit of it, is done by ear in the musical imagination before ink hits paper or an orchestral sample is triggered by a MIDI keyboard.
About the Spectrotone Chart
The 70th Anniversary Edition of the Spectrotone Chart is the tool that enables this because of its newest features. The Spectrotone Chart™ was created by four-time Academy Award® nominee for Best Film Score, Arthur Lange, the former head of the MGM Music Department.
In Arthur Lange’s own words, the Spectrotone Chart is, “a colorgraphic exposition of tone-color combinations and balance as practiced in modern orchestration.”
This updated and revised edition of Lange's Spectrotone Chart is organized across a range of C0 through C8 on a piano-like keyboard (shown at the bottom of the chart) with each key numbered with its MIDI Note Number. Immediately above the keyboard, each note is shown in its corresponding position on a mini-music staff. This organization makes the chart useful to both music and non-music readers alike. Below the keyboard, we added Hz frequencies for each note so that its full potential can also be realized in recording and mixing.
Benefit: every single tone-color range for every single instrument can now be worked with by pitch names, Hz frequencies, and MIDI Note Numbers. From this you learn how each tone-color can have its own tonality and sound including with major, minor, modal, and even Twelve Tone composition techniques.
Eight colors are used to convey the tone-color and its quality, with the lowest pitches colored Purple (mellow) and the highest, White (brilliant). Two additional colors of gray and black indicate notes that will have a "dull" or "indefinite" tone-color to them. 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 tonal quality of the instrument’s sound as it’s played up the overtone series.
Using the Spectrotone Chart you'll learn how to create effective orchestral combinations by understanding which instruments will blend well together in which registers, or which instruments will provide a more contrasting tone-color when placed together. You'll also learn starting insights on orchestral balance within each section of strings, brass and winds.
The tone-color choices make a lot of sense enabling not only precision orchestral combinations, live and electronic, but also providing 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.
Each tone-color has an additional timbre description that changes depending on the type of articulation used. In your PDF Guides you're given a chart of Articulation Tables by tone-color, by instrument that show how the timbre can change, and also how this will affect the intensity and carrying power of that instrument. You'll know when an instrument in a particular register will be strong in intensity, or when it will be weak and possibly need reinforcing by another instrument.
One of the key concepts you’ll learn in Visual Orchestration 1
is Span of Orchestration. Span of Orchestration divides the range of the orchestra by Cs into five breaks: Sub Bass, Low, Medium, High, and Very High. When the Spectrotone Chart tone-colors are viewed this way, a scoring story emerges:
Instrumental Tone Colors fall into specific registers. Once the tone-colors are understood, you can now hear how and where instruments are placed, types of voicings by registers, how to create combinations, even how to compose and create coloristic ensembles using the Spectrotone Chart.
Span of Orchestration register breaks, besides being identified by Cs, are also identified by pitches, Hz frequencies, and MIDI Note Numbers.
This approach also offers starting insights for orchestral EQing for which there is very little training.
The Spectrotone Chart is an amazing tool for learning how to create combinations. That’s why you’re first taught the general principle for creating combinations, then how to create the four types of combinations in the Spectrotone System of Orchestration: perfect, close, complementary and remote.
The 7 Video Lectures in Visual Orchestration
The Visual Orchestration 1: Spectrotone Course has seven video lectures totaling 3.78 hours of instruction. To learn effectively, if you don’t already have the CDs in your collection, legal MP3s are available from iTunes for listening analysis.
Lecture 1 – Introduction: Looks at the beginnings of instrumentation and orchestration; four aspects of music notation separate from the creative process; starting point for the instrumental composer; orchestration’s goal; Visual Orchestration course goals and how they’re achieved.
Lecture 2 – How the Spectrotone Chart Came to Be: The four men who influenced Arthur Lange in the creation of the Spectrotone Chart; the origin of Span of Orchestration; why we use C4 instead of C3; what Rimsky-Korsakov started that Arthur Lange finished with the Spectrotone Chart and then some.
Lecture 3 – First Steps in Using of The Spectrotone Chart: MIDI Note Numbers; Span of Orchestration; instrument ranges; musical language; technical language; Hz frequencies; Span of Orchestration and EQ’ing; Tone Colors; Tone Colors and instrument range; application to the flute and other instruments, muted brass; and the string section as a whole.
Lecture 4 – Orchestral Registration: Tone Color transitions; ethnic instruments and the Spectrotone Chart; 3-Part span of orchestration; contrasts by register; melody placement by register; common knowledge; Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, Princess Leia’s theme; Sayuri’s Theme.
Lecture 5 – Composition With The Spectrotone System: Broad music creation paths; a framework for inner listening to compose; melody and figuration; melody in unison or harmony; scoring in 2, 3, and 4 parts; order of listening; contrapuntal rhythmic structure; Basic Instinct, Star Trek Voyager theme; Jupiter from The Planets.
Lecture 6 – Creating Combinations: 5 steps to learning combinations; combination definition; secret of coloristic orchestrations; combinations and musical language; combination and technical language; layering in Visual Orchestration; four types of combinations; four types of contrast; finding complementary combinations; remote combinations; combinations and the 8 Keys of Professional Orchestration; compositional decision making; 4 applications with strings; what is orchestration; the need to contemplate.
Lecture 7 – MIDI Mock-ups, Tone Colors and Voicings: the dreaded organ/accordion sound; unisons; octaves; the next generation orchestral sample library; tone colors and tonality; Articulation Tables; Sayuri’s Theme, Bizet’s Carmen Suite #1; French horns and ET; Liberty Fanfare; opening to Mendelssohn’s Symphony #4; tone colors and tonality; dominant tone colors for the brass; key points summary; conclusion.
Meet The Teacher
Peter Lawrence Alexander is the first American to create in English the multi-volume Professional Orchestration™ Series which has been endorsed by winners of the Academy®, Grammy®, Emmy®, and BAFTA® Awards. He’s also the author of How Ravel Orchestrated: Mother Goose Suite, The Instant Composer: Counterpoint by Fux. Writing For Strings, Applied Professional Harmony 101 and 102 and the popular How MIDI Works. He’s also Film Music Magazine’s award winning Music Technology Journalist.
A graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston with a BS In Music Composition, he has studied counterpoint privately with Dr. Hugo Norden of Boston University, and orchestration with Pulitzer Prize nominated composer Albert Harris.
He’s coordinated beta test teams for the Vienna Symphonic Library and co-produced the Modern Symphonic Orchestra orchestral sample library for Creative Labs. As a media researcher he’s done studies showing geodemographical radio station listening patterns by day part, and in working with renown radio programmer Jack McCoy’s RAM Research he laid the research foundation for what later became Arbitron Information on Demand. He’s currently under contract to produce library music for film and TV.
About Arthur Lange
The Spectrotone Chart™
was created by four-time Academy Award® nominee for Best Film Score, Arthur Lange, the former head of the MGM Music Department. In 2010, Alexander Publishing took over its publication and future development. The 70th Anniversary Edition of the Spectrotone Chart
has been redesigned to include Hz frequencies, MIDI Note Numbers, and Span of Orchestration so that the Spectrotone Chart
now has direct applications for composers learning how to EQ their mixes.
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.”