Music

Love Hultén's marvelously complex mini marble-dropping music machine

Love Hultén's marvelously comp...
Love Hultén's tiny tribute to Martin Molin's giant mechanical music machine
Love Hultén's tiny tribute to Martin Molin's giant mechanical music machine
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The Marble Machine XS
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The Marble Machine XS
The Marble Machine XS measures 50 x 20 x 20 cm
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The Marble Machine XS measures 50 x 20 x 20 cm
Surely some of those cogs are frivolous additions
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Surely some of those cogs are frivolous additions
Sixteen marble runs feed sixteen notes
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Sixteen marble runs feed sixteen notes
A motor-powered, synth-electro homage to Martin Molin's Music Machine X
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A motor-powered, synth-electro homage to Martin Molin's Music Machine X
Love Hultén's tiny tribute to Martin Molin's giant mechanical music machine
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Love Hultén's tiny tribute to Martin Molin's giant mechanical music machine
Lord knows how many miniature components were used
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Lord knows how many miniature components were used
The finish is inspired by old Meccano sets
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The finish is inspired by old Meccano sets
At some point, you have to admit you have a cog problem
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At some point, you have to admit you have a cog problem
Tiny steel balls drop onto synth trigger pads
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Tiny steel balls drop onto synth trigger pads
One marvels at the busy work that's gone into this
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One marvels at the busy work that's gone into this
The winder is a lie! This machine is battery-driven
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The winder is a lie! This machine is battery-driven
View gallery - 12 images

Remember Martin Molin's Marble Machine X, the mechanical, musical Rube Goldberg machine that uses some 3,000 components and a hand-turned crank to drop marbles in sequences onto acoustic and electric surfaces? A ridiculously complex way to make music, but then, ridiculous complexity is kind of the point with these machines.

Molin has put together a band under the name Wintergatan, featuring some other similar contraptions he's built as well as live musicians, and is working on building a roadworthy version of the big Marble Machine to take on tour.

Well, much like Molin's fellow Swedes Abba, the Marble Machine now has a tribute act. Designer Love Hultén has miniaturized the key elements of Molin's device, including the clever programming wheel, and built a tiny version he's calling the Marble Machine XS. It's Wintergatan for the kindergarten.

Tiny steel balls drop onto synth trigger pads
Tiny steel balls drop onto synth trigger pads

The dimensions are 50 x 20 x 20 cm (19.7 x 7.9 x 7.9 in), so it's more of a finger-operated gadget than Molin's, which requires a fair bit of hip and shoulder. You don't need to physically turn the crank, either; Hultén has built in a little DC motor, with a speed control and a battery pack.

Nor does it have any acoustic elements, other than the sound of the marbles plunking around. The marbles drop onto pads that trigger an Axoloti Core synthesizer, and a built-in speaker projects the sound. There are 16 notes available in total, and 10 sound presets, and you can program as much as 128 bars of music.

Why build something like this? Well, because it's kooky and weird and mesmerizing, even if it sounds pretty ordinary, and the mechanical complexity of the thing must've seemed like an entertaining problem that would take considerable genius to solve. At this stage, it doesn't look like Hultén plans to sell the thing, so it's purely for your amusement. Check out a video below, or geek out on cogs in the gallery.

MMXS - A tribute to the Marble Machine X

Source: Love Holt´en

View gallery - 12 images
3 comments
Worzel
I'm sure this would fascinate kids and adults alike in a 'children's' museum.
John Harrison
This article is surprisingly ignorant of what Martin and Wintergatan are up to. The original machine was not able to go on tour and a new machine is being built. It is pretty amazing. Check out the Wintergatan YouTube channel if you have about 30 hours to spare geeking out on the MMX.
Signguy
Wonderfully Eclectic and beautifully crafted. Nice to have so much time to devote to such a "project".