Visual Orchestration #1: Spectrotone Course - Basic Edition

SKU VisOrch01-Basic


  • Product Delivery:Digital Download (download links expire 30 days after purchase).
  • Download Size:About 1.34 GB compressed / 1.77 GB decompressed (8x zip files containing your course videos, PDF documents / 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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The Visual Orchestration #1: Spectrotone Course - Basic Edition is for those who already own the required Spectrotone Instrumental Tone-Color Chart. If you don't own the Spectrotone Chart, please look at the Visual Orchestration #1: Spectrotone Course - Master Edition, which includes everything you need.

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 Spectrotone Instrumental Tone-Color Chart (available separately, or included in the Master and Advanced Editions of Visual Orchestration #1), 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.

What You Need To Provide

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

If you don't already own the Spectrotone Chart, please look at the Visual Orchestration #1: Spectrotone Course - Master Edition, which includes everything you need.

Visual Orchestration #1: Spectrotone Course - Basic Edition Contents

  1. You get seven video lectures in .mov format for Mac and PC (about 3.7 hours of instruction);
  2. Supplemental PDFs with supporting material for the course.
What You Need To Provide

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

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.

From Visual Orchestration #1 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.

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.

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.
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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 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.

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.

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.
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