A marvelous instrument

September 3, 2020 • 3:00 pm

Swedish musician Martin Molin, a member of the band Wintergatan, is also a prolific creator of bizarre instruments that the band uses in their performance.  This one, the Marble Machine, uses 2000 ball bearings that hit chimes, and also has percussion and a bass. The Wikipedia section about the machine says this:

The machine is powered by a hand-crank, and works by raising steel marbles through the machine into multiple feeder tubes, where they are then released from height via programmable release gates, falling and striking a musical instrument below. Instruments played by marbles striking them include a vibraphone, bass guitar, cymbal, and emulated kick drum, high hat and snare drum sounds using contact microphones. The music score is stored on two programmable wheels that utilize Lego Technic beams and stud connectors to trigger armatures to release the marbles. A final music video showing the machine in use was released in 2016, and has been viewed over 147 million times. [JAC: it’s now over 151,000,000!]

Ten months after the debut of the original Marble Machine, the band disassembled it and announced their plans to make a new marble machine for the purpose of touring. The new machine, to be called “Marble Machine X”, would solve a multitude of mechanical functionality problems with the original Marble Machine. Martin Molin, the builder of the original Marble Machine, is collaborating with a team of engineers and designers as well as fans for the design and build of the Marble Machine X. The original Marble Machine is now back in his possession after being exhibited in Museum Speelklok in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

You can see the live, conventional-instrument performance of this song here.

But wait! There’s more! Here’s Marble Machine X in a test demonstration. There’s an ad in the middle, and then more demonstration in the second half.

Go to SolidSmack to see two other videos of two other machines: a Paper pulling music box and a “modulin”

h/t: Vidya

15 thoughts on “A marvelous instrument

  1. Attach this machine to a strong Brownian Motion producer (say a nice hot cup of tea), and we would be well on our way to an Inifinite Improbaility Drive.

  2. Looks like a strandbeeste. I wouldn’t fall off the chair in astonishment if there was an inspirational connection.


    “These are not made of protein like existing forms of lives but they’re made of another basis stuff; yellow plastic tubes. Skeletons made from these tubes are able to walk. They get their energy from the wind. They evolved over many generations, becoming increasingly adapt at surviving storms and water from the sea.”
    Youtube – well, the videos on the designer’s website are interesting enough. Strandbeeste.com

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