The multipolar representation of the magnetic field has, for the lowest-order term, a magnetic dipole that dominates the far field. Thus the far-field representation of the magnetic field of the Earth, Sun and other celestial bodies is a dipole. Since these bodies consist of or are surrounded by plasma, which can support Alfvén waves, their propagation along dipole magnetic field lines is considered using a new coordinate system: dipolar coordinates. The present paper introduces multipolar coordinates, which are an example of conformal coordinates; conformal coordinates are orthogonal with equal scale factors, and can be extended from the plane to space, for instance as cylindrical or spherical dipolar coordinates. The application considered is to Alfvén waves propagating along a circle, that is a magnetic field line of a dipole, with transverse velocity and magnetic field perturbations; the various forms of the wave equation are linear second-order differential equations, with variable coefficients, specified by a background magnetic field, which is force free. The absence of a background magnetic force leads to a mean state of hydrostatic equilibrium, specified by the balance of gravity against the pressure gradient, for a perfect gas or incompressible liquid. The wave equation is simplified to a Gaussian hypergeometric type in the case of zero frequency, otherwise, for non-zero frequency, an extended Gaussian hypergeometric equation is obtained. The solution of the latter specifies the magnetic field perturbation spectrum, and also, via a polarisation relation, the velocity perturbation spectrum; both are plotted, over half a circle, for three values of the dimensionless frequency.