Mars College

Electronic Music Lab
04 Oct 2022 back to blog

Experiment with melodies, beats, software synths and feelings in the desert

Music is one of the most powerful tool to translate ideas, emotions, energy and vibrations (as a new-age hippie would say). With the power of the internet, software synths and sequencers and these amazing DAWs, music production can be accessible from just our fingertips!

This is the syllabus for the Electronic Music Production course at Mars College 2023. Our goal is to guide folks from absolute beginners to music enthusiasts to creating their first complete piece of song to put in the Mars 2023 album.

This course is planned to be very technical to give us the know-how of music theory and productions, we would also dive into the emotional & storytelling aspect of audio experiences – get ready!

Prepared & Planned by @Syntonikka


MUST HAVE: A laptop with Ableton downloaded, a pair of headphones (no bluetooth) GOOD TO HAVE: A playlist of all your favorite music in all genres (as many genres as possible), A drumpad or midi keyboard

10 Week Course Outline

Week 1 - Introduction to Electronic Music & Ableton

We’ll get started by talking about our favorite songs, genres, musicians. What does music mean to you? What elements about music touches you? What’s your favorite show? And why do you like it so much? We’ll spend half of the class talking about music, our tastes and preferences, followed by a beginner introduction to the Ableton interface.


Create a playlist of your favorite music and share with the group. Pick ONE song that you find to be super interesting & inspiring.

Week 2 - Composition101: Mapping out Songs

We’ll pick 2-3 songs across different genre & tempo and listen to them together while mapping out their composition on a whiteboard / screen. What’s the first element? How many layers? When does the kick/snare/hi-hats come in?

Homework: Create mappings of 3 songs of different genres and share with the group

Week 3 - Rhythm + Melodies

This is gonna be super fun, we’ll get started with make beats!! We’ll use drum kits inside Ableton and just make any kind of beats we’d like! We’ll play with different tempos, timestamps, syncopations, and experiment with different preset instruments!

We would also go into some common melodies with introduction to some basic music theories, and experiment with combo of different pads.


Try combining some beats & melodies, ideally make 1 a day (5 in total)

!! Record Samples that you would like to use, could be any sound, manmade, natural, percussion, environment, there is no rule!

Week 4 - Samples + Vocals

We’ll use the samples we recorded and add them into our songs, see what works and what doesn’t. Also we will experiment with basic effects on these samples. We would also use some vocals to add to our music and see how that could change things.


Create a piece of song of any length with samples ONLY

Download Vital for Ableton

Week 5 - Synths + Instruments

Things are getting hardcore now. Now we are getting into the fundamentals of sounds. The basic waveforms that can be combined to create all sound effects ever existed: square, sine, triangle, saw, noise, etc… We would learn how to create interesting sounds by adding effects: LFO, HPF, flanger, echo, reverb, gate, transform…

We would also experiment with instruments presets inside Ableton and see what kind of funky things can we create.


Try create some songs to get ready for next week (woohoo!!)

Think about why/what do you want to create for next week? What’s the theme? emotions? stories?

Week 6 - Skeleton of our First Song

Time to make our first songs! Before we get into the technicals, let’s spend some time to think about: what’s the story we’re trying to tell? Why do we create what we create? What sorts of emotions are we trying to invoke? We’ll spend some time discuss that as a group.

With some basic knowledge we’ve acquired on beats, melody, composition, samples, vocals and synths. Let’s try to create our first song! We’ll do this together as a team. Spend some time initiating and then break into groups and give feedback to each others in-between sessions.

Homework: Continue to work on this song, maybe try to create different iterations

Week 7 - Iterations of Songs

Following last week, this week we’ll spend some time critiquing everyone’s song, try to give as many constructive criticism as we can and think of ways to improve each others’ work.


Integrate criticism taken in class and try to polish the same songs as much as possible.

Week 8 - The Pain of Mastering

This week we’ll introduce the art of mastering — create a ‘full’ sounding piece of music without blasting out the speakers. How can we create a more impactful kick? More graceful snares? Mastering is one of the hardest parts in music production because it requires super sensitive ears and testing on multiple devices (earbuds, phone speakers, studio monitors, etc…) so this is usually done by a master (pun intended) but we will spend some time covering some basic concepts (or maybe collectively raise funds to hire someone on fiverr to master for us :P)


Master your track 😘

Week 9 - 10% Details Makes 90% Impact

In all forms of arts the 10% details makes 90% impact. We will use this time to do another round of critiques of each others’ work, really really get into the nitty gritty of each others’ work. What do you love about this piece? What bothers you? This time we will also add observation to the mastering of the track, are the instruments balanced? What can we not hear and what can we hear too much? What sounds natural and what doesn’t?

We will use some time to critique and the rest to work on our music.

Homework: Finish your track!

Week10 - Play & Publishing! (Open to Public)

Final class! This class we’ll create an open studio! Every person would have a station to play their music to the public audience, we’ll celebrate and put all these into an album on Soundcloud ;)

If you are interested, come join us! 😘

posted by: syntonikka