Playing the Citphto O.M.
Citphto O.M. is a rotary music machine designed to play repeating musical patterns. In other words, it’s an ostinato machine, similar to the Ostinato Machine described here but smaller. It’s useful for accompanying other instruments or for creating interesting patterns in its own right. At the center of it is an upright rotating pillar driven by a speed-controllable electric motor. Wooden arms extend out from the pillar, and as they turn they activate scrapers, bells and other percussion items. These elements rest on a bottom plate of steel, and they are provided with magnets so they stay put once placed. By the positioning of the arms and the sounding elements, you can create different musical patterns. It’s easy to make changes in the selection of sounding elements and their positioning, so you can readily program and reprogram the resulting pattern.

Thanks to Tim Phillips for the idea of using magnetism to hold the elements. For more on Citphto and other rotary music machines such as Tim’s mechanical sequencers, see this essay. The unlikely name Citphto comes from the manufacturer label printed on the motor’s speed control. In the sound clip below, Citphto can be heard playing a slow, textural pattern. In the video linked below, you can hear Citphto playing a groove pattern at a faster tempo as accompaniment other instruments.

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