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
Monday/Wednesday 12:30-2:45 | Room A91 |Winter 2020 term
(Music 51 syllabi from previous terms are found on the Syllabus Archive page.)

Welcome to Introduction to Electronic Music

UPDATE 3/16/20: Due to the coronavirus situation the campus has closed for the final two weeks of the term including final exams. I have updated this syllabus to highlight changes made to accommodate this situation and allow you to complete the course and earn credit. These accommodations are subject to change and some degree of flexibility as we work to respond to the evolving situation. Working together we WILL get through this!

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, (software) drum machines, effects, 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 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 required 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 projects and lab work during your assigned lab time. Some assignments must be downloaded from this website and printed from non-classroom computers at least 48 hours before they are due. 

Personal headphones with 1/8″ stereo phone plug are required at every class. (Bluetooth headphones/earbuds may also work.)

Highly recommended: USB flash memory stick or similar device (e.g. – 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. NOTE: Since the classroom/lab is not available during the final two weeks of the winter 2020 term you will complete your lab work using off-campus resources or alternatives that you and the instructor agree to.

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 NEVER permitted in the classroom — 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.)


Due to the coronavirus situation it may be necessary to alter some of the grading policies described below and to allow some flexibility. For example, attendance at the scheduled on-campus final exam session cannot be “required” in the wake of campus closures. In some cases where coming to class to submit work or take a test on a certain date was required, instead it may be that the date/time becomes the deadline for alternative online submission of the word. It is possible that credit for some work may be granted based on alternatives or completion of other related work. In all cases, these changes will be made in ways that do NOT increase your workload, and in some cases certain requirements may be waived.

  • 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. The best three quiz grades are counted — the lowest quiz grade is not counted.
  • 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. At the instructor’s discretion, credit for up to two missed projects may be given for demonstrating proficiencies of missing project on the final project assignment.
  • Final Project – Final projects are due at the scheduled final exam session. Attendance at the final exam session is required.  (See the calendar below and the final exam schedule on the college website.) 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.)

If you wait more than 72 hours after an assignment is handed back or after grades are posted on the web to bring grade errors to the instructor’s attention it may not be possible to change the grade.

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 you stop attending near the end of the term you are subject to receiving a failing grade in the course.

During the course you may be able to review your grade progress online on a password-protected web page. More information 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 may consider the P/NP option. See the college catalog for more information including the application deadline.


Regular attendance is required and critical to your success in this class. Contact the teacher 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. Accommodations will be made during the coronavirus campus closure that may affect the following policies.
  • 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 with a record of late arrival (“tardy”).
  • 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 from the class 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 a 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 attend the official 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 scheduleObviously you are NOT required to attend an on-campus final exam session while the campus is closed! Your online submission of the final project and test #2 will be scheduled at this time.

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 college deadlines and to make timely arrangements 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 special 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 other students. 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 scheduleAttendance 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. 

The on-campus final exam session has been cancelled since all class meetings have been suspended for the final two weeks of the winter 2020 term. The deadline for online submission of your final project will be the originally scheduled date and time for the final exam.

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.

Expect some flexibility regarding late work during the final weeks of the spring 2020 term when on-campus class meetings have been cancelled. Please contact the instructor to discuss delayed submission of assignments and work out alternative schedules. In many cases late work will be accepted.

Contact the instructor immediately if you encounter technical problems while working on an assignment. If a technical problem interferes with your completion of a project by the due date, penalties may be waived 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. Normally no extension will be considered if you wait until fewer than 48 hours remain before the assignment deadline to attempt to print.

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.


Phones may not be used during class. Turn off your phone before you enter the classroom, put it away for the entire period, and do not take it out again until after you leave the classroom.

Having your phone on during class is a distraction to you and others in the classroom. You may be asked to leave the room for the remainder of the period if your phone goes off or you use your phone during class. Setting your phone to “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, quietly leave the room and move a distance away from the classroom door before taking out your phone. Turn the phone back off when you finish and then return to class.

If you have a serious emergency situation (e.g. sick child, serious illness in your family, etc.) that would otherwise cause you to miss class and you must be on standby so to immediately deal with this emergency, 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 except 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 ask to 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 to leave your issues unresolved. A visit also helps your teacher get to know you. Many of us have hundreds of new students each term! When you take the time to make a personal contact it helps us make a 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 website.)


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.

Schedule subject to change as announced in class, including deadlines and quiz/test dates.

Week 1: 1/6-1/10

  • 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:  1/13-1/17

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

Week 3: 1/21-1/24

  • Holiday: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 20 — campus closed, no classes
  • Continued: Logic Software: MIDI recording, basic editing.
  • Garage Band project due: Intro to Electronic Music Assignment 1

Week 4: 1/27-1/31

  • 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: 2/3-2/7

  • 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: 2/10-1/13

  • Audio loops, Apple loops
  • Quantization
  • Quiz 2 on Electronic Music history topic 2 due
  • (Friday, February 14 holiday does NOT affect this class.)

Week 7: 2/18-2/21

Week 8: 2/24-2/28

Week 9: 3/2-3/6

  • 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: 3/9-3/13

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

Week 11: 3/16-3/20 — on-campus meetings cancelled

  • De Anza College has suspended all on-campus class meetings. We will not meet this week or during final exams week. You will continue to work on projects including quizzes, test #2, your final project using your own off-campus resources. 
  • Work time on final projects. Preview of final projects.
  • Test #2 at last class meeting of the week rescheduled for online submission next week.

Week 12: 3/23-3/27  — on-campus meetings cancelled

  • Final exam session at 11:30am-1:30pm on WEDNESDAY, March 25. Note that this is one hour earlier than the normal class meeting time. (This date and time should not conflict with other classes since all De Anza classes use the official 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!
  • We will NOT meet for the previously-scheduled Winter 2020 on-campus final exam session listed above. Your final project and test #2 will be due at the start of this scheduled exam period, but you will submit them via online methods. (Methods will be shared with you during the week before the deadline.)

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