Music 51: Assignment 1

Contact Info: Dan Mitchell

Office Hours

Monday & Wednesday
Room A11:
15 minutes before Music 1A
10 minutes after Music 1A
Room A91:
15 minutes before Music 51
10 minutes after Music 51

[Music 51 Assignments: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | Final Project]

Due Date

Wednesday, January 15 — start of class.


Record a four-track sequence using the Garage Band program.


You must follow this format. Read it carefully!

  1. Your project must include two tracks composed of sounds from the loop browser window
  2. Your project must also include two additional tracks played on the keyboard.
  3. You may use any style of music.
  4. You may use any sounds available in the Garage Band program, but you must include at least two of each type of the following: real instruments and software instruments. (The real instrument parts may use drum and percussion instruments that you play on the keyboard, but not the “drummer” parts except as noted below.)
  5. “Drummer” tracks do not count toward the total listed above. You may use no more than one drummer track on this project.
  6. Your music must coordinate rhythmically with the click track.
  8. The finished project must be between 30 and 60 seconds long. (Garage Band can display both clock time and musical time. Use the clock time display to check the duration of your piece, not the music time – e.g “bars and beats” – display.) There is a grade penalty for projects that are either too long or too short.
  9. Volume and Pan settings must be made on each track as follows:
    • No track may have a volume level of 0 db or be panned to exactly the center. Each track’s initial volume/pan settings much be different than these values and/or change during the piece.
    • In addition, on at least two tracks the volume and pan settings must change at least once during the course of the piece.
  10. At least one track must include a segment that loops – usually created by clicking in the upper right corner of a region and dragging to the right.
  11. Label your project file as follows: “your name #1.” Save it in your folder on the hard drive of a classroom computer and make a backup on your personal storage device (USB memory stick, CD, ext. drive, or email a copy to yourself).

Note: Given the number of tracks described in items #1 and #2 in the list, your project will have a minimum of four tracks. (You may use more than four if you wish, but that is entirely optional.)

Assignment Goals

Completing this assignment will demonstrate that you can use the software to record and playback a simple sequence; use basic sequencer controls such as record, play, stop buttons; choose sounds; save the piece as a file in your folder; use basic editing techniques; create a project within defined limitations (i.e. – 30-60 second time frame).


You will be graded on technical aspects of the assignment. The assignment will not be graded on its musical merits. However, imagination can’t hurt! The assignment description is intentionally vague so that there is room for you to exercise your imagination. Try to come up with an interesting piece within the guidelines of this project. Other important factors that will affect your project grade include:

  • You may be asked to show your backup copy on this assignment. (Optional – more in class.)
  • Fix or remove any obvious note errors on the keyboard track.
  • Your project must demonstrate your ability to play accurately along with the click track and/or other looped tracks.

Remember: Get it done first. Make it better later.

Project Philosophy

Since this is the first electronic music project of the term, I’d like to share some ideas and philosophies regarding these assignments

  • While musically interesting projects are wonderful, project grades reflect how well you meet the technical standards of the project rather than how musically effective and interesting the project is. A musically-interesting project that fails to meet the project requirements will earn a lower grade than one that is no musically interesting but which fulfills assignment requirements.
  • It is easy to take so long on one part of the assignment that you run out of time to complete it. My philosophy is “Finish it first. Make it better later.” In other words, finish the project somewhat quickly and efficiently, even if the result is not the most astounding music you are capable of. Then, if time remains, return to the project and work to improve it.
  • Carefully read the assignment format before you start the project, as you work on it, and again once you have finished.

Submission Information

A late penalty of 1 letter grade per class session is applied to assignments submitted in late. For Intro to Electronic Music: Projects must be saved on your classroom computer before the deadline. You will also need to store a backup copy of your work, using one of the methods we discuss in class. Your grade will be affected if your project does not follow the format outlined above. If your project is nowhere close to following the format, I will ask you to re-do it and hand in the “fixed” version when you finish. If you have questions or problems on the assignment please let me know right away – in class or by email, or telephone at 864-8511.

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