Scoring Stages #2: Something From Nothing Course

SKU ScoringStages-02


  • Product Delivery:Digital Download (download links expire 30 days after purchase).
  • Download Size:About 2.92 GB compressed / 3.9 GB decompressed (10x zip files containing your course videos, PDF documents, MIDI files / 1x PDF file).
  • Author/Instructor:Peter Lawrence Alexander
  • Required Products:You will need to have the Spectrotone Instrumental Tone-Color Chart (available separately) to use with this course.
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Scoring Stages #2: Something From Nothing
(Quick Compositional Techniques For Nearly Any Musical Style)

The big question many ask is, “How do I generate inspiration to create something new?” Scoring Stages #2: Something From Nothing begins answering that question by first showing you specific compositional techniques using triads then four-part harmony to create, near instantly (without ever having had counterpoint), two- and three-part compositions. Apply tone colors and Span of Orchestration from the Spectrotone Instrumental Tone-Color Chart (available separately), and voila, a professional sounding composition.

To accomplish this, Scoring Stages #2 starts with a harmony review. Not Theory! Instead, Harmonic facts that can be applied to most any genre of music you’re working on. And! From Rap to Orchestral, synths to strings. You can apply this information in a bazillion ways.

How You Learn/What You Do

Scoring Stages #2 uses a learning technique composers and songwriters have used for literally hundreds of years. It’s called OSA. OSA is an acronym for Organized Screwing Around. It’s the musician's way of experimenting and working with music that leads to discovery. The specific task you’re trying to accomplish is to see what happens when you do this, or if you do that, and if you assign a certain part to one instrument or section vs. another.

This is where the Spectrotone Instrumental Tone-Color Chart (required for this course and available separately) is so important.

Once I’ve shown you how to apply each concept, you’ll then apply OSA to take your musical idea and see how it works in different registers (Span of Orchestration), with different solo instruments or sections, and the four different types of combinations available in each register. Only the Spectrotone Chart enables you to do this.

The more you work with this, the quicker you’ll find “inspiration” coming to you as you discover just how many options you have to score your musical idea, depending on what you’re trying to say.

Watch a Sample Lesson Video from Scoring Stages #2

*If you can’t see the YouTube video above, please accept cookies to view and play the video.

The 17 Video Mini-Lectures in Scoring Stages #2: Something From Nothing

INTRODUCTION (11:10) Covers how we’ll proceed and learn.

LECTURE 1 - Triadic Chord Types (6:16)
Covers the four types of triads and how they’re created.

LECTURE 2 - Seventh Chords (7:44)
Covers the nine types of seventh chords and how to create each one of them. Seventh chords covered include the Maj 7, Dom 7, Min 7, Min Maj 7, Full Dim 7, Half Dim 7, Dim Maj 7, Aug 7, Aug Maj 7.

LECTURES 3A & 3B - Application: Creating Interesting Harmonies by Using Small and Large Thirds (21:22)
In this application lecture, I will give you a simple theme and show you multiple ways of creating interesting reharmonizations which you then apply to an original theme you’ve written. Recommended length: 8 bars.

LECTURE 4 - Chord Families, Chord Connections, Chord Substitutions (13:20)
Covers the Major C Scale, Triads and Major Scale, Triads with 2 Common Tones, Triads with 1 common tone, Triads with 0 common tones - adjacent chords with compositional applications.

LECTURE 5 - 6 Triadic Voicings (10:10)
There are six triadic voicings, three open, three closed. What they are and which registers by Span of Orchestration they work best in.

LECTURE 6 - Triadic Chord Connections (6:16)
Learn the three types of triadic chord connections and how they apply for creating background lines and low brass sustain passages.

LECTURE 7 - Basic 4-part Voicings (8:26)
To the triad we’ll add a fourth voice and see how doubling the root, fifth or third impacts the sound and feel of what you’re trying to say musically.

LECTURE 8 - 4-Part Chord Connections (7:08)
Learn the two approaches for connecting four part chords and how that impacts sustained background lines and vertically voicing the melody.

LECTURE 9 - Guide Tone Lines (13:21)
There are two types of guide tone lines, classical and jazz. You’ll learn both types plus how they can be used to inspire a melody and their use when creating background lines below the melody.

LECTURE 10 - Rhythmic Counterpoint (32:00)
These are the most basic background lines easily applied to most any concert or pop style.

LECTURE 11 - Harmonic Figuration (18:00)
Manipulating broken chord patterns is one of the major techniques for creating a near-instant 3-part composition.


In this final block of lectures, we’ll take what you’ve learned and see how to apply it across Span of Orchestration.

LECTURES 12A & 12B - Application by Sub Bass Register & Tone Colors (25:26)
Learn how to apply selected broken chord patterns and other compositional techniques in this register.

LECTURE 13A & 13B - Application by Low Register & Tone Colors (27:17)
Learn how to apply selected broken chord patterns and other compositional techniques in this register.

LECTURE 14A & 14B - Application by Middle Register & Tone Colors (23:31)
Learn how to apply selected broken chord patterns and other compositional techniques in this register.

LECTURE 15A & 15B - Application by High Register & Tone Colors (18:35)
Learn how to apply selected broken chord patterns and other compositional techniques in this register.

LECTURE 16A & 16B - Application by Very High Register & Tone Colors (18:08)
Learn how to apply selected broken chord patterns and other compositional techniques in this register.

Audio Examples

Audio examples are part of the videos, but you'll also be referred to YouTube performances of examples from both the orchestral repertoire and film scores (updated roughly once a year to keep links current).

Harmonic Overtone Series

Starting with Video Mini-Lecture 5, we'll look at the importance of understanding the Harmonic Overtone Series to write effective vertical voicings in all sections. Newly added in 2019, you're also provided with a supplemental PDF training guide on the Harmonic Overtone Series. The PDF includes worksheets to help you calculate the first sixteen overtones in the Harmonic Series for any starting note using the required Spectrotone Chart, so you have a helpful guide to voicing vertical harmony like a pro.

If You Don’t Read Music...

Even if you don’t read music, you’ll still learn a lot that you can readily apply. Selected examples in the Video Mini-Lectures are shown in keyboard diagrams, or in Piano Roll Edit view. And, there are folders with bonus MIDI files of selected onscreen examples. You can load these into your sequencing program to view the techniques in Piano Roll Edit, or use as a starting point for creating your own MIDI mock-ups.

If you’re a guitarist, I encourage you to get a good chord dictionary.

If You Do Read Music...

To use a jazz term, you’re gonna wail! If you’ve been to music school and had harmony, you’re gonna soar because what I’m teaching you hasn’t been taught in music schools for over 100 years.

And if you’re a pianist, you can take these starting techniques and apply them to learn how to create instant accompaniments.

Do At Your Own Pace

There’s no rush with this. You’re not on a schedule. Just take what you’ve learned and apply, apply, apply. That’s how you’ll really learn to use this material in what you write and produce.

What You Need To Provide

You will need the Spectrotone Instrumental Tone-Color Chart for this course.

Companion Resources to Scoring Stages #2

A great companion book to this course is Applied Professional Harmony 101. If you have little to no formal music training and want to understand more about reading music and the basics of music theory presented in this course, this book will help get you up to speed.

After working through Scoring Stages #2, if you can read music and want to study more about writing in modes, you might consider The Instant Composer: Counterpoint by Fux Home Study Course - Complete Edition, which includes The Instant Composer: Counterpoint By Fux PDF eBook plus 16 PDF lessons and approximately 2 hours of supporting video lectures. The Counterpoint By Fux PDF eBook also includes a “Music Basics” section that condenses the first 23 chapters of Applied Professional Harmony 101 so you have a good grounding for studying Fux's method.

What's Included in Scoring Stages #2: Something From Nothing:

  • You get 17 downloadable Mini-Video Lectures (including the introduction video) in .mov format for Mac and PC (about 4.4 hours), where each technique taught has its own lecture. After going through a mini-lecture you’ll create one or more original works applying what you just learned.
  • You get supporting downloadable PDF Listening Guides for selected lectures with links to YouTube, plus other references to support the techniques being demonstrated.
  • You get bonus MIDI files of selected examples that you can load into your notation or sequencing program to view the examples in Piano Roll Edit or use as a starting point for your own compositions.
What You Need To Provide

You will need the Spectrotone Instrumental Tone-Color Chart for this course.

Ideally, you'll have at least one (1) 8-bar theme in A:B format, and one original song in either Verse Chorus or AABA format to which you’ll apply these concepts.

For those who read music, you’re encouraged to get a spiral music notation notebook for the exercises you’ll be doing.

About Peter Lawrence Alexander

Peter Lawrence Alexander was 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 and teacher of Visual Orchestration, Scoring Stages, How Ravel Orchestrated: Mother Goose Suite, The Instant Composer: Counterpoint by Fux, Writing For Strings, Applied Professional Harmony 101 and 102, How MIDI Works, Street Smart Guide to the Vienna Instruments Player and many more. Peter was 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 studied counterpoint privately with Dr. Hugo Norden of Boston University, and orchestration with Pulitzer Prize nominated composer Albert Harris. Peter worked as the music tech for film composer/songwriter Henry Mancini and understudied with film composer Jerry Goldsmith. He also studied orchestration with Goldsmith's orchestrator, Arthur Morton.

Peter 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 produced studies showing geodemographical radio station listening patterns by day segments, and in working with renowned radio programmer Jack McCoy’s RAM Research he laid the research foundation for what later became Arbitron Information on Demand.

With over 30 years in music education and publishing, Peter’s training approach came out of his research into how the great composers taught themselves. His music books and courses are research-oriented and focus on how people learn best. The result of this approach is titles that train for results, and get results when you follow their step-by-step learning approach. As Peter would say, "it’s not about music theory, it’s about practical learning and doing."

Maintaining Peter's Teaching Legacy: Since the sudden and unexpected passing of Peter Lawrence Alexander in 2015, his music books and courses, along with this website, are now maintained and updated by his wife and long-time business helpmate, Caroline Alexander, who holds a Master of Arts Degree in Music Design for Film and Television.

From Scoring Stages #2 Course Owners

I very much enjoy [Peter's] teaching style and approach to orchestration - as a pianist it has opened up a whole new world of composition tools and textures to me!
- Jason W.

I would like to thank you for what Visual Orchestration 1 & 2 and even more Scoring for Stage 01 and 02 taught me. I think my way of writing improved a lot after following your courses.
- Claudio R.

Going through the courses "Visual Orchestration I-III" and "Scoring Stages 1 & 2" I would like to give you a warm and hearty "Thank you" for this all. I learned so much additionally to my work as a musician and orchestral MIDI-MockUp-er. It was a pleasure and a lots of peace for me to listen to your agreeably sounding voice and your instructions and explanations which helped pointing the way out of this acoustical labyrinth ... that was a good teaching.
- Thomas H.

I've bought the scoring stages 2 and I really loved it.
- Ricardo S.

I'm in the process of learning music composition, and I've already purchased Scoring Stages 1 and 2 ...Thanks for all your efforts to educate people in music, you're one of the most prolific authors in the field!
- Daniel B.

I am a happy customer of many of your products including many of your awesome classes! Your classes are 10x more helpful that the BERKLEE classes I took right before! ...I took 2 BERKLEE online classes and they were so general, unhelpful and boring. Mr. Alexander's are priceless! I learn so much from them!!! THANK YOU!!!!
- Christopher D.

I love all of the courses that I have purchased. One of the best purchases that I have made in the world of Orchestration and Samples. Thank you very much for your incredible products!
- Paul K.

I’ve really enjoyed your courses over the years, Pro Orchestration series, Scoring Stages series, Visual Orchestration series etc. Thank you for sharing your expertise.
- Wayne B.

Just wanted to say hi and express my gratitude for all the learning works you make. I bought many materials, including Pro Orch bundle, How Ravel Orchestrated, Writing for Strings, Counterpoint by Fux, Visual Orch, Scoring Stages, etc. There is so much great stuff there to learn. It's also great because it's so easy to understand (though there are some more complex things). I wish I could have more time to study everything, but even scratching the surface of the materials you provide opens ears and mind to some exciting musical ideas. I especially like the Scoring Stages, which is a wonderful learning journey. Can't wait for the next parts. Thanks so much for all you are doing!
- Michael C.

Thank you for your extraordinary course.
- Claudio R.

Thank you. Thank you so much for your valuable courses in orchestration, time, and effort. They are treasures in the field.
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