Junkshop/steampunk social-network-enabled automatic music machine:

Cybraphon consists of a number of instruments, antique machinery, and found objects from junk shops operated by over 60 robotic components, all housed in a modified wardrobe. Its emotions are shown on a 100 year old school galvanometer; a motor-driven crank drives the bellows of an Indian classical instrument modified with 13 robotic servos; a switched fan pumps air through a Farfisa organ retro-fitted with robotic keys; 12 chimes are struck by suspended solenoids; numerous percussion instruments are hit by beaters attached to motors, including a cigar box with an integral spring “reverb”; and a purpose made vinyl record is cued robotically to play through antique brass gramophone horns. In addition to these musical components, Cybraphon has several internal light sources that are controlled on four fader channels, and infra-red motion detectors to monitor people watching it.

All these elements are controlled by a hidden computer via MIDI, DMX, and Arduino boards. And wire. Lots and lots of wire.

The computer runs custom software (coded in Python and MAX/MSP) to monitor the web and update Cybraphon’s emotions according to the rate at which its popularity is changing over time. All mentions of Cybraphon online that are indexed by Google are noted, as well as activity on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, MySpace, and this very website. (

Via Grand Text Auto


This is what I want for Christmas. Talk about old-skool drum machines!

In the early days of silent motion pictures, it was realised that background music had a great influence on the audience. Before movies had sound, many picture theatres had special ‘player pianos’ to reproduce music mechanically from piano rolls. The music was meant to accentuate the mood of the film. Some player pianos were elaborately extended, with pipe organs and sound effects installed in adjacent side-cabinets, so that the accompanist could create sounds to match the action on the screen. Several of these mechanical music makers — called photoplayers – were produced and the Fotoplayer brand was one of the most popular. Fotoplayer was a trade name used by the American Photo Player Company. From a location in the front stalls or orchestra pit, the operator of a Fotoplayer would follow the action on the screen while pulling cords and pushing buttons to make sounds that brought ‘life’ to the film. The cords activated such dramatic sound effects as a pistol shot, steamboat whistle, bird chirp, cymbal crash, bass drum and wind, while the buttons activated thunder, the horse trot, telephone bell, Klaxon horn, and other strange noises. The Fotoplayer, it can be truly said, comes with bells and whistles! And all this before electronics. (