Music 51 Syllabus

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: Introduction to Electronic Music Syllabus

3 units (2 hours lecture, 3 hours lab)
(Music 51 syllabi from previous terms are found on the Syllabus Archive page.)
Updated for Winter 2019 term.

Welcome to Introduction to Electronic Music

This syllabus describes course policies and is a contract between you and your teacher. Other materials on this website are extensions of the syllabus and also reflect official course policies. (Some details of the syllabus are subject to change prior to the start of the new term and again during the term as announced in class.)


Introduction to Electronic Music introduces the use of keyboard synthesizers, drum machines, and sequencing software to create music in a variety of styles; basic studio techniques; introduction to Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI); basic historical developments in electronic music; creation of music/audio projects using basic electronic music hardware and software. Some prior music experience is recommended but not required. (Consult the De Anza College Catalog directly for the most current official information.)


  • Operate basic hardware/virtual keyboard synthesizers, drum machines, simple mixers, and entry-level music software.
  • Understand and use introductory-level audio, synthesis, music software, and MIDI terminology.
  • Create musical projects in a variety of styles using synthesizers, drum machines, and MIDI sequencing software.
  • Design, implement, and troubleshoot basic audio and MIDI studio equipment configurations.
  • Recognize and describe basic historical developments in electronic music.

Text and Materials

Text – No text is required. Written course materials are available within the course software and links to additional online resources will be provided in class.

Access to a computer with a printer, web browser, and Adobe Acrobat Reader. You will use the electronic music lab computers for course-related work during your assigned lab time.

Important: Some assignments must be downloaded from this website and printed at least 48 hours before they are due. 

Personal headphones with 1/8″ stereo phone plug are required at all class sessions.

Highly recommended: USB flash memory stick or similar device (e.g. – writable CD/DVD media, external USB drive, accessible cloud storage, etc.) is strongly recommended to back up your work and move files between computers. Capacity of 1GB or larger is sufficient for class files.

Course Schedule

In general, you should be able to do all of your lab work during the scheduled class meeting time – but this may only provide time to meet basic assignment requirements. Additional open lab time may become available after the start of the term but isn’t guaranteed. Information will be provided in class.

Studio Rules

All electronic music students are responsible for reading, understanding, and following the  studio rules.Violations of the studio rules may lead to suspension of access to the studios and other serious consequences.

  • No unauthorized visitors are allowed in the lab. Only currently enrolled electronic music students are allowed in the room.
  • No eating or drinking in the lab. (Water in screw-top containers is allowed, but may not be kept on desks.)
  • Keep the studio neat – clean up when you finish your session.
  • Cell phone use is not permitted in class — read the cell phone policy in this syllabus.
  • Lab computers are for electronic music course work only. Use the Internet Lab in Learning Center West if you want to browse the web or check your email.
  • Shut down your computer at the end of the period before leaving the room. (Choose “Shut Down” from the Apple Menu at the upper left corner of the screen, and confirm this in the following dialog box.)


  • Written Tests – There are two written tests, each of which is worth 15% of the total course grade.
  • Quizzes – Quizzes will be given several times during the term. They include questions like those on the tests and serve as reviews for these tests. Missed quizzes may not be made up, but one may be missed without penalty. Quizzes count for 20% of the course grade.
  • Assignments and Projects – Written and recorded projects using class software and hardware will be assigned throughout the quarter. Other assignments may be based on assigned listening and/or reading. This work counts for 20% of the course grade.
  • Final Project – Final projects are due at the scheduled final exam session. Attendance is required, so make early arrangements to avoid schedule conflicts. Final projects are worth 30% of the course grade – but failure to complete a final project may result in a failing grade for the course.

A weighted average system is used to determine your final course grade—not a point system. Assignment and course grades will use base letter grades A, B, C, D, and F, and the +/- symbols. (There are no C- course grades at De Anza College, though a C- may be given for assignments, tests and other course work.)

Let the instructor know immediately if you think you have received an incorrect grade. Grades may not be changed if you wait more than 72 hours after an assignment is handed back or after grades are posted on the web to bring errors to the instructor’s attention.

If an emergency interferes with completion of course work near the conclusion of the term you must contact the instructor immediately to discuss the situation, including the possibility being assigned an “incomplete” grade in the course if appropriate. If you “disappear” at the end of the course you are subject to receiving a failing grade in the course.

During the course you will be able to review your grade progress online on a password-protected web page. More information about this will be provided early in the term.

Pass/NoPass Option — If you are not concerned with earning a particular letter grade in this class, you could consider the P/NP option. You will earn a “passing” grade as long as your work averages to a C or better. See the college catalog for more information.


Regular attendance is required and critical to your success in this class. Contact me immediately if you miss a class or if you decide to drop. Adjust your schedule for work, vacations, etc. so that they do not conflict with this course. Attendance at the scheduled final exam session is required. The exam dates and times are listed in the course calendar on this website and in the official final exam schedule at the De Anza College website.

  • Attendance may be taken at each class session.
  • If you are not present when roll is called an unexcused absence is recorded — until you contact the instructor to explain, at which point it may be changed to an excused absence.
  • If you arrive late it is your responsibility to inform the teacher that the absence record should be changed to a tardy.
  • You are subject to being dropped from the class for excessive absences or tardies. However, there is no guarantee that you will automatically be dropped if you stop attending without notifying the instructor.
  • You are subject to being dropped after a third unexcused absence.
  • Late arrival counts as half of an absence.
  •  You must contact the instructor during a scheduled class meeting or scheduled office hour prior to the deadline if my signature or other action is required.

Final Exam Attendance: The academic term at De Anza College includes all of the official final exam week. You are required to be available for the scheduled final exam session as per this syllabus and the college final exam schedule. Do not schedule events that conflict with the scheduled final exam session. You will not be excused from the final exam nor will you be allowed to take it at an alternate time because you failed to note the date and time of the scheduled exam session. Schedule travel and other end-of-term events so that they do not conflict with the exam schedule.

Special Attendance Policy for Week I: If the course is full and students are waiting to add, students with a single unexcused absence during the first week are subject to being dropped. It is critical that you attend each meeting and arrive on time or contact the instructor immediately if an emergency situation affects your attendance.

Deadlines: It is your responsibility to be aware of drop deadlines and to make timely arrangements with me or the registrar if you decide to drop this class. The class schedule lists deadlines for dropping with no record or for dropping with a “W” grade.

Use your add code right away: You must complete the add process before the next class meeting. If you wait I may drop you to make room for other students. Speak to the instructor to arrange an exception if your circumstance require you to wait longer than 24 hours to add the class.

Late arrival and availability of workstations: After the first five minutes of the period, any unused computers are available for use by students from other electronic music classes. If you arrive later than this you may not be able to use your usual computer.

Final Exam Session

Final projects are due at the scheduled final exam session as per the college final exam schedule. Attendance is Mandatory at the full two-hour scheduled exam session. If you have something else scheduled at this time, you must make arrangements early in the quarter so that you can attend this session. (Note, there may —or may not — be an opportunity retake tests #1 at the final exam session. If there is, the retake grade, if higher, will be averaged with the grade you earned the first time, potentially improving your overall test grade in the class.)

Attendance at the full two-hour final exam session is required – no exceptions!

Late Work

Assignments are late if they are not turned in at the time the class session begins unless otherwise specified. You must arrive on time on due dates – arrive early to make sure your work is not late.

  • Missed or late quizzes may not be made up, though you may miss one without lowering your grade since your lowest quiz grade is discarded.
  • Make-up midterms may be possible for students who make prior arrangements or who encounter a serious and unanticipated last-minute emergency.
  • Other late assignments may be penalized one letter grade for each class session after the due date.

Contact the instructor immediately when you encounter technical problems while working on a lab assignment. If a technical problem interferes with your completion of a project by the due date, there may be no late penalty only if you contacted the instructor at the time the problem occurred.

A special policy applies to assignments that you must print from the website. If you encounter a printing problem and report it 48 hours or more before the deadline, it may be possible to get an extension in some cases, depending upon the situation. If you wait until fewer than 48 hours before the assignment deadline no extension will normally be granted.

Academic Integrity

Students and faculty share the goal of maintaining the highest standards of academic integrity. I take this issue very seriously, and consequences can be very serious for students who fail to observe these standards. Consult my statement on Academic Integrity for details about my official policies — and ask for guidance if you have questions. The college academic integrity policy and student code of conduct are available at the college website.

Cell Phones

Cell phone use during class is not permitted. Turn off your cell phone and put it away before entering the classroom.

I will ask you to leave the room for the remainder of the period if your phone goes off during class or if you use your phone during class. Having your phone on during class is a distraction to you and others in the classroom. Setting your phone on “silent” or “vibrate” is not turning it off – “Turn it off” means “turn it off.”

If you realize during class that you have an unanticipated critical need to check your phone, you must quietly leave the room and move a good distance away from the classroom door before taking out your phone. Turn the phone back off when you finish and return to class.

If you have a serious emergency situation (e.g. sick child, serious illness in your family, etc.) and you must be on standby so that you can immediately deal with this emergency situation and you would otherwise have to miss class, the following applies:

  1. You must discuss the emergency situation with me at the start of the period.
  2. I’ll ask you to sit where you can make a quick and quiet exit to answer the call outside the classroom.
  3. Your phone must be on the silent setting.
  4. If a call/text arrives you must leave the room before responding.

Laptops, Tablets, and Similar Devices

I permit use of such devices during class by students who use them exclusively for purposes directly related to the course.

Laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices are never permitted during quiz or exam sessions. The use or presence of such devices or similar during exams and quizzes is a violation of class policy and will have serious consequences including an immediate failing grade on the exam or quiz.

Recording Devices

The use of audio, video, photographic or other recording devices  is not allowed in the classroom. The only exception is in cases where the student discusses his/her individual special need for recording in advance and the instructor gives him/her permission to do so

Students may photograph or otherwise copy projected lecture notes following the conclusion of the class session.

Office Hours

Visiting your instructor during an office hour can help you succeed. It is much better to come in and discuss problems and questions than it is to leave your issues unresolved. A visit also helps your teacher get to know you as a person. Many of us have hundreds of new students each term! When you take the time to make a personal contact it helps us make the connection between you and the name on the roll sheet. An office hour visit is a great opportunity to discuss concerns or challenges that could affect your performance in the course and to discuss possible accommodations that may help you achieve success.

Please visit me during my office hours or send email to any time you have a question or problem relating to the course. My office hours will generally take place in the classroom before/after class.

My office hours are listed in the left sidebar of pages at this website. I may be able to meet at other times by appointment. Speak to me or send email to set up an alternate office hour. (Office hours are subject to change as announced in class and on my websites.)


Some assignment deadlines are not listed in the calendar, and they will be announced in class and on this website during the term. The schedule lists major topics. Other topics – including outside listening and reading – will be announced during the course. The schedule is subject to change, including due dates and test dates.

Week 1: 1/7-1/11

  • First Class Meeting: Assign Labs and Tutoring Sessions
  • Join the web site before second class meeting.
  • Intro to the classroom/workstation procedures
  • Introduction to the Garage Band software.

Week 2:  1/14-1/18

  • Garage Band software continued.
  • Intro to Logic Software: MIDI recording, basic editing.
  • Electronic Music History Topic 1

Week 3: 1/21-1/25

  • Holiday: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 21 — campus closed, no classes
  • Continued: Logic Software: MIDI recording, basic editing.
  • Garage Band project due: Intro to Electronic Music Assignment 1

Week 4: 1/28-2/1

  • Logic Software: controlling volume and panning, using additional tracks.
  • Logic project due: Intro to Electronic Music Assignment 2
  • Quiz 1 on first Electronic Music history topic due — subject to change, see below.

Week 5: 2/4-2/8

  • Electronic Music Take-Home Quiz #1 Due at start of period on Wednesday.
  • Loop recording, aliases, copies, etc
  • Logic project due: Intro to Electronic Music Assignment 3
  • Electronic Music History Topic 2

Week 6: 2/11-1/15

  • Audio loops, Apple loops
  • Quantization
  • Quiz 2 on Electronic Music history topic 2 due

Week 7: 2/18-2/22

Week 8: 2/25-3/1

Week 9: 3/4-3/8

  • Audio editing in Logic
  • Logic assignment due: Intro to Electronic Music Assignment 6 (date subject to change)
  • Introduction to final project requirements.
  • Quiz #3  on electronic music history topic 3 due

Week 10: 3/11-3/15

  • Electronic music history and other topics.
  • Continue work on final project.
  • Quiz #4

Week 11: 3/18-3/22

  • Work time on final projects. Preview of final projects.
  • Test #2 at last class meeting of the week

Week 12: 3/25-3/29

  • Final exam session at 11:30am-1:30pm on WEDNESDAY, March 27. Note that this is one hour earlier than the normal class meeting time. (This date and time should not conflict with other class since all De Anza classes use a special final exam week schedule. Contact your teacher immediately if you think you have a conflict.)
  • Final Project playback only – Attendance at the full two-hour final exam session is required – no exceptions!

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