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Model #: VisOrch01-Master
Manufacturer: Alexander Publishing

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Visual Orchestration 1: Spectrotone Course - Master Edition

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About the Course

Included In Your Master Edition Course:
1. Seven video lectures totaling approximately 3.7 hours of instruction;
2. The Spectrotone Instrumental Tone-Color Chart™ (and two training guides) in PDF format that you can print out on either Letter or A4-sized paper (or larger depending on your home or office printer), or 18” x 24” poster size at your local print store;
3. plus supplemental course PDFs 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 giving you valuable professional scoring information over seven Video Lectures that's 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.

End Results
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.

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. It's included in both the Master and Advanced Editions of Visual Orchestration 1.

Spectrotone Chart

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 each orchestral 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 scalewise. 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.

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 that changes depending on the type of articulation used. In the PDF Guides accompanying the Spectrotone Chart, 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.

Span of Orchestration
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.

Spectrotone Chart: Tone Colors By Span

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 #1
The Visual Orchestration 1: Spectrotone Course has seven video lectures totaling approx. 3.7 hours of instruction. To learn effectively, we'll be looking at some specific pieces from both the orchestral repertoire and film scores. Click on the tab above labeled "MP3s Needed" to see which pieces you're recommended to have for listening analysis.

Lecture 1 – Introduction: (approx. 18 mins)
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: (approx. 40 mins)
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 The Spectrotone Chart: (approx. 32 mins)
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: (approx. 44 mins)
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: (approx. 27 mins)
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: (approx. 37 mins)
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: (approx. 30 mins)
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 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, Street Smart Guide to Logic 8 and many more. He 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.

He 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.

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

Download Info:

  • Your download file(s) will be available for 30 days after purchase.
  • x7 .zip files containing your Video Lectures (.mov format for Mac and PC).
  • x1 .zip file containing your supplemental PDF course documents.
  • x1 .zip file containing your Spectrotone Chart PDF and training guides.
  • x1 PDF "Read Me First" document.
  • approx. 1.38GB compressed (1.82GB decompressed).

  • MP3s Needed

    Because of the number taking this course wanting to do film scoring, the following pieces from both the orchestral repertoire and film/TV scores are referred to in this course. References to performances on YouTube are provided for you, but it's recommended you purchase (or stream) these mp3s from iTunes, Amazon, or other music resellers if you don't already have them in your music collection.

    Bizet: Carmen Suite #1 - Introduction - The Fate Theme
    Benjamin Britten: Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes - Dawn
    Jerry Goldsmith: Basic Instinct main theme
    Jerry Goldsmith: Star Trek Voyager theme
    Jerry Goldsmith: The Attack from The Blue Max Suite
    Holst: Jupiter from The Planets
    Mendelssohn: First Movement Symphony #4
    John Williams: Princess Leia’s theme from Star Wars*
    John Williams: Sayuri’s Theme from Memoirs of a Geisha*
    John Williams: Liberty Fanfare*
    John Williams: E.T. Adventures on Earth*

    * means John Williams Signature Edition Deluxe Study Scores are available for these titles (published by Hal Leonard).

    About Arthur Lange

    Dimitri Tiomkin and 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, by kind permission of Cambria Music, 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. 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.”

    Visual Orchestration 1 Course Reviews
    (from genuine course owners)

    "I'm so enjoying Visual Orchestration. You explain the lessons so clearly and precisely. They're wonderful to learn from. ...Thanks so much. You nutrition for the music soul."
    - Nik S.

    "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.

    "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.

    "Going through the courses "Visual Orchstration 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.

    "Thank you so much for offering these fantastic and comprehensive courses! I have spent dozens and dozens of hours searching the internet (fruitlessly) for reliable resources regarding the specific material you offer, namely, orchestral arrangement, adapting piano to strings, composing for strings, and midi mock-up mixing, placement, etc. Discovering Alexander Publishing has cemented my desire to compose and to apply to graduate school after only completing Visual Orchestration 1 and 2. During college I took 4 semesters of music theory/counterpoint but no orchestral arrangement was offered. I now look at your courses/lectures as a true supplement for not having the luxury of taken those courses in college and I am confident that the knowledge I will gain from your courses will help expand and polish my work as well as greatly improve my chances for being accepted into graduate school. Thank you for taking the time to produce these lessons in such a thoughtful, efficient, and effective way."
    - Matt D.

    "Been loving the series so far especially the video series. I'd love to see where Video Orchestra volume 3 will go!"
    - Dan B.

    "Thanks for your efforts in the creation of the Visual Orchestration course. Never have I seen this material presented in such a clear and succinct way."
    - Tim B.

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

    "I continue to be amazed at the insights Peter brings to writing and orchestration."
    - Ken M.

    "First of all thanks a lot for the great product "Visual Orchestration"! The Spectrotone Chart is really a great tool and your video courses are of great value."
    - Wim D.

    "Hi Peter, 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!"
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    "I am a composition student, currently on my last year of studying, and a highly satisfied customer of yours, having purchased quite a lot of your material on orchestration."
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