Keegan Herperger plans to design an analog oscillator with functional eurorack modules and enough tweaks that it constitutes an original design, now that he has received the 2017 Joyce and Ron Sakamoto Prize for Research in Digital Audio Arts.
“An oscillator is essentially what generates the sound in a synthesizer, and analog just means that they won't use any computer programming,” explains Herperger. “Eurorack is a standard format for modular synth gear, with specific requirements on how the circuit should operate in order to properly interface with other eurorack modules. What I build will be up to code and ready to integrate into a modern commercial synthesizer system.”
Herperger gets to follow through with his ambitious goals thanks to the generosity of Joyce and Ron Sakamoto and their annual research prize. The prize is awarded to a second or third-year Bachelor of Music, Digital Audio Arts (DAA) student or a team of students working within a collaborative framework and being led by a B.Mus DAA student. The award provides $5,000 in research funding.
“Since the nature of the project is the creation of a physical thing, I'll be using the grant money to purchase the necessary components to build the various circuits required,” says Herperger. “It'll also help out with procuring access to some diagnostic equipment and specialized textbooks, and take some of the pressure off my tuition so I can focus on my research.”
Supervised by Dr. Arlan Schultz (Music), the final results of Herperger’s research will be presented next spring along with a research report outlining his findings, conclusions and future directions.
“Arlan is a near-infinite well of knowledge and a fantastic teacher, so I'll be going to him for guidance and to make sure I stay on the right track,” says Herperger. “I'm going after a fairly broad topic, so it can be easy to fall down rabbit holes and stray from the important stuff. He's been an excellent sounding board for any questions I've had so far, and always leads me [in the right direction].”