January 31, 2020
What is an Eurorack? It's an instrument; But not one you play like a trumpet, or guitar. Sounds are unnatural and far from acoustic. To the untrained ear, you may relate it to a broken microwave oven. Keep listening, and you might hear a basic rhythm. An Eurorack gives homage to the original electronic synthesizers developed in the 1960's. At its core, Euroracks are musical instruments comprised of many small modules that each perform a specific function. A central clock pulse is the heart of the instrument. Patch cables, 3.5mm audio cables you might use for headphones, send an electrical pulse to another module that simulates a drum kit. A separate cable jumpers over to a sequencer module that chooses musical notes in the form of DC voltage levels. That voltage level is converted to an audible musical note after another patch is made to an oscillator module. Picture a piece of retro electrical test equipment fit for a moon-landing partially obscured by a rats-nest of wires.
Up until college, I listened to nothing but music that required an entire band. However I’ve found typical rock and blues that I enjoy so much is too distracting for homework. I have since discovered electronic music. As an electrical engineer I’ve found the analog circuitry that can generate music fascinating. It’s simple, yet complex. Most of the circuitry found inside basic eurorack instruments is similar to what we EE’s study at Penn State. My goal for this blog is to document my journey to making modular music on a homemade eurorack synth. It’s a slow and circuitus process, but it’s also a fun and creative one.