Instructor Information

Dr. Charles Redmond


Shared IDST Course Description

IDST classes are designed for students to be exposed to and engage in the academic conversations between the disciplines that a Liberal Arts education offers them. As such, students will be asked to think critically, write thoughtfully, and speak authoritatively. IDST classes involve students in the components of reading, writing, research, discussion, and analysis. By the end of the course, students should be able to synthesize the materials covered in class into formal and informal written and oral expressions that present a greater awareness of the material covered. Furthermore, every IDST course should help students transition to college, establish self-management skills, become familiar with campus resources, and engage with the academic culture of Mercyhurst University in a way that will promote success.

Shared IDST Core Objectives

Learning Outcomes Learning Objectives Assessment Tool
Effective Communication Effectively communicate with clarity, coherence, and persuasiveness. Presentation, Discussion Board, or Participation with rubric
Research and Information Literacy Access print, digital, and/or electronic sources, evaluate sources, and cite sources accurately. Research Essay or Projects
Critical Thinking Synthesize course material, make a reasoned claim, and arrive at sophisticated conclusions. Exam
Core Values
Social Mercy Engage in service to others while considering the value of service to others. Freshman Service Project with Written Reflection

We will be having a few guest speakers joining us at some point during the semester to speak to you specifically about research and information literacy and critical thinking. Mrs. Frances Federici, adjunct professor for the English department will speak about critical thinking and citing sources, and Jennifer Harris from the library will speak about using library resources.

Course Description

Perhaps I should begin here by answering the question “Why did I propose offering a course like Music and Computers?”. Or, being fully aware that most of you will not be writing songs or making music as part of your ultimate profession, maybe I should answer the question “Why do I think this course will be so helpful to you as you begin your university education?”.

Let's start with the most obvious answer: computers! There are now virtually no academic disciplines or professions that are not impacted by the power of computing. To be successful, individuals in these disciplines or professions must be comfortable using computers and learning about computing. Even if such skills are not absolutely required, possessing them will give competitive advantage. Throughout this course you will be working with a digital audio workstation and other software, manipulating files, and using social media, and my hope is that in doing so you will become more comfortable using a computer for all aspects of your work. I also hope that you will become interested enough to at least consider furthering your computing education with some of the other courses we offer, such as courses in basic programming and web technology.

What about music then? Why music? Well, first of all, it is a very enjoyable context within which to study computing! There are two even more important reasons to consider, though. First, in making your own music, you will be taking first steps in developing your creativity, which, in my opinion, is THE MOST important attribute possessed by successful academics and professionals. Second, do not forget that the purpose of an education is not just to prepare oneself for a successful career, but rather to nourish the WHOLE person. My hope is that after this course, your understanding and enjoyment of music will have been increased, to last for the rest of your life. And should you ever have the need for creative expression in your life, no matter who you are or what you do, you will now have an outlet for that in music.

Our entire course is built around you writing, performing, and producing your own song. All of the tools we will need are contained in the digital audio workstation. I will show you the basics of creating drum tracks, bass lines, chord progression harmony, and leads. We will touch on some of the basics of creating a successful mix. Some of the genres we will discuss include the blues, rock, ballads, dance, and hip-hop. Please see the rest of this syllabus for more details.

Course Objectives

The student will use a digital audio workstation to:

  • generate MIDI;
  • import audio;
  • edit audio;
  • apply effects to audio and MIDI tracks;
  • apply equalization to audio and MIDI tracks;
  • automate track parameters;
  • produce drum, bass, and lead tracks;

The student will apply and demonstrate an understanding of:

  • chords;
  • blues chord progressions;
  • chord progressions in general;
  • major and minor scales;
  • pentatonic scales;
  • the blues shuffle;
  • dance drum tracks;
  • bass root playing;
  • rolling bass lines;
  • hip-hop vocal techniques;
  • panning, eq, reverb, and compression;

Final Project Details

Your final project must be an originally composed song, which includes a drum track, a bass track, a chord progression providing harmony, and a lead track. It must be at least one minute long. I will be collecting both the Reason file and the MP3 file for the song.

I would like everyone to sign up for an account on SoundCloud and post, each week, one audio file which reflects your progress on your project. I will give more details on this in class. SoundCloud's website is located here:

Participation Component

I would like everyone to give a five-minute , very informal, presentation on your progress. I would like to have one of these each day, so I will be asking for volunteers throughout the semester. All you really have to do is to play us your latest, best track, tell us a little bit about how you put it together, and answer a few questions about it from either me or your fellow students. I will fold your grade for this into your grade for your final project.

Project Rubric

2 points 1 point
originality Composition is original. Composition is a minimally modified class example.
harmony Chords, bass, and leads fit together harmoniously. Chords, bass, and leads in different keys and unintentionally dissonant.
rhythm Drums, bass, and rhythm instruments in time with one another. Parts out of sync and unquantized.
lead Lead is in key and works rhythmically. Lead is out of key and does not work rhythmically.
presentation Student successfully communicates information about her/his process and can answer questions. Student is unprepared and uninformative; unable to respond satisfactorily to questions.


All of the software you will need for the course will be in our labs, so you are not required to purchase anything. If you are, however, interested in purchasing any of the software for your own use at home, here is the information for it:

For a digital audio workstation, we will be using Reason Essentials. The latest version is version 2. This is available via download from Propellerhead (for about $125.00). Here is their website:

Previous boxed versions of Reason Essentials are available from various venders. These are generally less expensive than the download from Propellerhead.

We will also be using Band in a Box, from PGmusic, as a songwriting tool. They offer various packages, and it can get quite confusing. It would probably be best to talk to me before you decide to make this purchase. Their website is located here:

We will also be using the audio editing software Audacity. This is free, and is available here:

If you want to export MP3's with Audacity, you also have to have the LAME MP3 encoder. You can find it here:

Suggested References

There is no required text for the course. There are, however, some excellent references I can share with you:

  • Dance Music Manual: Tools, Toys, and Techniques by Rick Snoman. There is a new edition coming out in 2013, but previous editions are available.
  • Dance Music Production by Rick Snoman. This is a website, found here: There are many helpful videos offered for sale.
  • The Songwriting Sourcebook: How to Turn Chords into Great Songs by Rikky Rooksby. (2011).
  • How to Write Songs on Keyboards - A Complete Course to Help You Write Better Songs by Rikky Rooksby. (2005).
  • Melody in Songwriting: Tools and Techniques for Writing Hit Songs by Jack Perricone. (2000).
  • Composition for Computer Musicians by Michael Hewitt. (2009).
  • Reason 6 Ignite!: The Visual Guide for New Users by G.W. Childs. (2011).
  • Going Pro with Reason 6.5 by G.W. Childs. (2013).
  • Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio by Mike Senior. (2011).
  • Producing and Mixing Hip-Hop/R&B by Mike Hamilton. (2009).
  • The Drumset Style Resource: A Comprehensive Guide to Exploring New Techniques and Styles from Hip-Hop to Jazz by Pete Sweeney. (2012).
  • The Breakbeat Bible by Mike Adamo. (2010).
  • Bass Grooves: Develop Your Grooves and Play Like the Pros in Any Style by Ed Friedland. (2004).
  • Building Rock Bass Lines: A Solid Foundation for the Rock Bassist by Ed Friedland. (2003).
  • Blues Piano for Beginners by Mark Harrison. (2011).
  • Pop Ballad Piano for Beginners by Mark Harrison. (2012).

Office Hours

All of my office hours will be held in the computer labs. In order to better suit your schedule, I would like to be flexible with these. Please contact me if you would like to meet with me, and we can set up a time that fits both of our schedules. If, by the end of the week, I have not fulfilled my total quota of at least six office hours, I will make up the difference on Friday or the weekend. I will of course announce the times of these end-of-the-week office hours.


It is very important that you make every effort to attend class. It is much more difficult to learn the material on your own. If you miss class regularly, the chances are that you will not do as well in the course as you would have done otherwise. I will take attendance every day so that I know who attends and who does not. A prerequisite for additional help outside the classroom is regular class attendance. You are responsible for what is announced or covered in class even if you are absent.

I WILL NOT RE-TEACH CLASS LESSONS, OVER AND OVER AGAIN, TO INDIVIDUALS WHO MISS CLASS! Get to know your classmates. If you miss class, get the notes, study the notes, and try the homework. See me then with your questions.


We will have a midterm exam, a comprehensive final, and a final project. You will begin working on your project from day one, and I will also be evaluating you on your timely progress. The midterm and final will each be worth 33% of your grade. Your final project will be worth 17% of your grade. Your timely progress on your project throughout the term will be worth the final 17% of your grade. Letter grades will be assigned according to the following scale:

  • 94%-100% A
  • 90%-93.99% B+
  • 84%-89.99% B
  • 78%-83.99% C+
  • 70%-77.99% C
  • 65%-69.99% D+
  • 60%-64.99% D
  • 0%-59.99% F

Working the sliders below will help you understand what combinations of scores will result in particular letter grades.

0% midterm

0% final

0% final project

0% timely progress

F letter grade

Learning Differences

Any student who fells s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact us privately to discuss your specific needs. Please know that it is the policy of Mercyhurst University that it is the student's responsibility to provide documentation of his/her disability to the director of the Learning Differences Program. Please call the Learning Differences office at 814-824-3017 to coordinate needed accommodations.

Tentative Schedule

Important Dates: October 25 (midterm) December 10 (final, 11:00-1:00)

Week Topic
Week 1 Drums I
Week 2 Harmony I
Week 3 Drums II
Week 4 Harmony II
Week 5 Harmony III
Week 6 Harmony IV
Week 7 Harmony V
Week 8 Bass I
Week 9 Bass II
Week 10 Melody I
Week 11 Melody II
Week 12 Melody III
Week 13 Melody IV
Week 14 Melody V