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Marble Machine: a magic orchestra powered by marbles

Wintergatan Marble Machine is the name of a new, innovative music instrument powered by a hand crank and 2,000 marbles.

Swedish musician Martin Molin, 33, designed and built the Wintergatan Marble Machine, a stunning hand-made instrument that produces music using a simple hand crank and the movement of 2,000 marbles.

This enormous music box is made up of a mechanical system of wheels, belts, funnels, tracks and carved wooden parts for collecting and rerouting marbles. These roll and beat against some built-in music instrument including a vibraphone, drum and bass, activating them and producing sounds that can be controlled in any moment. The machine, indeed, is programmable and the song melodies can be adjusted while playing.

Molin, multi-instrumentalist of the band Wintergatan (that gives its name to the marble machine), was nicknamed MacGyver by his friends for his creativity and has always built his instruments by himself. He built an accordion, an autoharp, a glockenspiel and other wacky instruments and now he has come up with this ambitious machine. Inspired in the existing marble machine subculture, it took more than two years to the inventor to complete this music box that includes as much as 3,000 hand-made components. And he realised a series of videos to document his work.

In an interview for Wired UK, Molin explains that everything revolves around a grid. “I grew up making music on Midi – he said – and everyone makes music on a grid nowadays, on computers. Even before digital they made fantastic, programmable music instruments. In bell towers and church towers that play a melody they always have a programming wheel exactly like the one that is on the marble machine”.

Featured image: Samuel Westergren
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