Visual Orchestration #1: Spectrotone Course - Advanced Edition

SKU VisOrch01-Advncd


  • Product Delivery:Digital Download (download links expire 30 days after purchase).
  • Download Size:About 2 GB compressed / 2.45 GB decompressed (11x zip files containing your course videos, PDF documents, PDF Spectrotone Chart and Guides, MP3 Concert Audio / 1x PDF file).
  • Author/Instructor:Peter Lawrence Alexander
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The Visual Orchestration #1: Spectrotone Course - Advanced Edition includes:

  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 a home or office printer, or 18” x 24” poster size at your local print store;
  3. Supplemental course PDFs with supporting material;
  4. Professional Orchestration Series Concert Audio Package, made up of 76 DRM-Free MP3 tracks (about 10 hours worth!) with an average 20-minunte concert for each orchestral instrument to really help train your ears.

If you already own the Spectrotone Instrumental Tone-Color Chart, and the Concert Audio Package, you can get the Visual Orchestration #1: Spectrotone Course - Basic Edition which is the course on its own.

About the Visual Orchestration #1: Spectrotone Course

The 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.

Using the included Spectrotone Instrumental Tone-Color Chart 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 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.

Designed For Those Who Read Music OR Who Learn By Ear

For those who want to learn orchestration by ear, Visual Orchestration #1 is ideal, because it 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. The course combines instrumentation, orchestration, composition and some recording information.

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.

The 7 Video Lectures in Visual Orchestration #1: Spectrotone Course

The Visual Orchestration #1: Spectrotone Course has seven video lectures totaling approximately 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 Contents tab above to see which pieces you're recommended to have for listening analysis.

LECTURE 1: Introduction (about 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 (about 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 (about 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 (about 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 (about 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 (about 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 (about 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.

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.

Learn Orchestral Color and Balance With The Spectrotone Instrumental Tone-Color Chart

Originally created by 4x Academy Award nominee for Best Film Score, Arthur Lange, this expanded and revised 70th Anniversary Editon of the Spectrotone Chart forms the heart of Visual Orchestration #1 and is unique to the study of orchestration. It's included in both the Master and Advanced Editions of the course.

Spectrotone Instrumental Tone-Color Chart

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.

This enhanced edition of Lange's Spectrotone Chart uses modern, professional-level instrument ranges and 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, Hz frequencies have been added for each note so that its full potential can also be realized in recording and mixing.

Eight colors are used to convey the instrument's tone-color and its quality. 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.

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 also has an additional timbre description that changes depending on the type of articulation used, and this will affect the intensity and carrying power of that instrument. With the Spectrotone Chart, 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.

The Spectrotone Instrumental Tone-Color Chart is an amazing tool for learning how to create combinations and is a must have for all arrangers, composers and recording engineers.

The Concert Audio Package for Advanced Study

Originally created for the Professional Orchestration. series of books, this Advanced Edition of Visual Orchestration #1 includes an MP3 Concert Audio Package of 76 tracks (about 10 hours worth) with an average 20-minute concert for each orchestral instrument. The Concert Audio Package will aid you in being able to aurally zoom in on each instrument and its tone colors. By listening carefully to how each solo instrument performs, youʼll also train your ears in phrasing, dynamic range, individual note intensity, tonal changes, articulation changes, tempo fluctuations, where the instrument sits within Span of Orchestration, etc. You can then transfer that knowledge to your MIDI mock-ups for improved realism.

You'll hear the music of old favorites like Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Albinoni, Schumann, Brahms, and Rimsky-Korsakov. But you'll also hear the work of newer composers like Elliot Carter, Iannis Xenakis, Carl Nielsen, John Cage, Kalevi Aho, Claude Debussy, Gordon Jacob, Marcel Grandjany, Benjamin Britten, Zoltan Kodaly, Eduard Lalo, Sir Edward Elgar, Shostakovich, Yi Chen, Hindemith, Max Reger, Glazunov, Saint-Saens, Haukur Tomasson, and others.

Click on the Contents tab above to see the complete list of works you get in the Concert Audio Package that's included in this Advanced Edition course.

Visual Orchestration #1: Spectrotone Course - Advanced Edition Contents

  1. You get seven video lectures in .mov format for Mac and PC (about 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 a home or office printer, or 18” x 24” poster size at your local print store;
  3. Supplemental PDFs with supporting material for the course;
  4. Professional Orchestration Series Concert Audio Package, made up of 76 DRM-Free MP3 tracks (about 10 hours worth!) with an average 20-minunte concert for each orchestral instrument.
Concert Audio Package Contents

This DRM-free MP3 audio pack was specially curated by and licensed from It was originally created to complement Professional Orchestration's Professional Mentor PDF Workbook for Volume 1, but is a great addition to the Visual Orchestration #1: Spectrotone Course. It contains an average 20-minunte concert for each orchestral instrument to really help train your ears.

FLUTE: Saint-Saens: Odelette in D | Faure: Fantasie #1, Andantino | Faure: Fantasie #2, Allegro | Bach: 6 Sonatas for Flute and Harpsichord, No. 2 in E-flat, 1. Allegro moderato | Jolivet: Chant de Linos

OBOE: Handel: Concerto No. 3 for Oboe and Strings in G Minor, 1. Grave, 2. Allegro, 3. Sarabande - Largo, 4. Allegro | Handel: Concerto No. 1 for Oboe and Strings in B-flat, 1. Adagio, 2. Allegro, 3. Siciliana - Largo, 4. Vivace| Mozart: Adagio and Allegro in F Minor for Mechanical Organ transcribed for Oboe and Strings| Vanhal: Quartet Concertante No. 6 in C, 1. Allegro

CLARINET: Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A, 2. Adagio | Copland: Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra with Harp and Piano, 1. Slowly and expressivley | Hindemith: Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, 1. Rather fast | Brahms: Sonata for Clarinet and Piano No. 2 in E-flat, 2. Allegro appassionato | Koechlin: Les Confidences d'un joueur de clarinette, Romance de Kasper | Koechlin: Clarinet Sonata No. 2, 1. Allegro ben moderato

BASSOON: Mozart: Bassoon Concerto in B-flat, 1. Allegro | Mozart: Bassoon Concerto in B-flat, 2. Andante ma adagio | Mozart: Bassoon Concerto in B-flat, 3. Rondo (Tempo di menuetto) | Britten: Serenade, Op. 31 for Tenor, Horn and Strings, 8. Epilogue | Britten: Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal for Tenor, Horn and Strings | Britten: Nocturne for Tenor, Obbilgato Instruments and Strings | Sofia Gubaidulina: Concerto for Bassoon and Strings, 1. First Movement

FRENCH HORN: Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 2 in E-flat, 2. Andante | Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 4 in E-flat, 2. Romance - Andante cantabile | Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 3 in E-flat, 1. Allegro | Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 1 in D, 1. Allegro

TRUMPET: Handel: Suite in D, 3. Aire | Haydn: Trumpet Concerto in E-flat, 3. Finale. Allegro | Telemann: Trumpet Concerto in D, 1. Adagio | Robert Henderson: Variation Movements for Trumpet Solo, 1. Moving in a singing style | Satie: La Statue Retrouvee | Naji Hakim: Sonata for Trumpet and Organ, 1. Allegro con spirito

TROMBONE: Rimsky-Korsakov: Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra, 3. Allegro - Allegretto | Nino Rota: Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra, 1. Allegro giusto | Fredrik Hogberg: Concerto No. 1 for Trombone and Orchestra, The Return of Kit Bones, 1. Part 1 | Gordon Jacob: Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra, 1. Andante maestoso - Allegro molto - Andante maestoso | Vagn Holmboe: Concerto No. 12 for Trombone and Orchestra, 1. Allegro moderato

TUBA: Hindemith: Sonata for Tuba and Piano, 3. Variations | Gordon Jacob: Tuba Suite, 1. Prelude | Leonard Bernstein: Waltz for Mippi III | Vagn Holmboe: Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra

VIOLIN: Albinoni: Adagio in G Minor | Bach: Concerto for Violin and Strings in A Minor, 1. Allegro moderato | Paganini: Concerto No. 1 in D Major for Violin and Orchestra, 2. Adagio | Yi Chen: Chinese Folk Dance Suite for Violin and Orchestra, 2. Adagio | Saint-Saens: Violin Concerto No. 3 in B Minor, 1. Allegro non troppo | Carl Nielsen: Sonata for Violin and Piano in G, 2. Andante grazioso - Minore - Majore

VIOLA: Schumann: Symphony No. 4 in D Minor | Max Reger: Romance for Viola and Piano | Hindemith: Sonata fur Bratsche Allein, Op. 11 No. 5, 1. Lebhaft, aber nicht geeilt | Anton Rubinstein: 3 Pieces, Nocturne | Glazunov: Elegie in G Minor | Shostakovich: Sonata for Viola and Piano, 2. Allegretto

CELLO: Elgar: Cello Concerto in E Minor, 2. Lento - Allegro molto | Bach: Suite No. 1 for Cello in D, 1. Prelude | Shostakovich: Concerto No. 1 for Cello and Orchestra, 1. Allegretto | Britten: First Suite for Cello, 1. Canto primo | Edouard Lalo: Concerto in D Minor for Cello and Orchestra, 2. Intermezzo | Zoltan Kodaly: Sonatino for Cello and Piano

BASS: Einojuhani Rautavaara: Angel of Dusk, Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra, 1. His First Appearance | Einojuhani Rautavaara: Angel of Dusk, Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra, 3. His Last Appearance | Haukur Tomasson: Skima (A faint gleam of light), 2. Animato

HARP: Debussy: Dances for Harp and Strings, 1. Danse sacree | Debussy: Dances for Harp and Strings, 2. Danse profane | Marcel Grandjany: Air in Classic Style

PERCUSSION: Elliot Carter: Pieces for Timpany, I. Saeta | Elliot Carter: Pieces for Timpany, VIII. March | John Cage: Second Construction for Four Players | Kalevi Aho: Symphony No. 11 for Six Percussionists and Orchestra, 1. Untitled | Iannis Xenakis: Pleiades, 1: Metaux

Music Studied In This Course

Because so many composers are pursuing film/TV scoring, the following pieces from both the orchestral repertoire and film/TV soundtracks are referred to in this course. References to performances on YouTube are provided for you in your course PDFs, but it's recommended you purchase these mp3s (or stream them) 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: Adventures on Earth*

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

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.

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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.
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