Music

Falling marbles make monstrous machine sing

Falling marbles make monstrous...
Martin Molin with his magnificent Musical Marble Machine
Martin Molin with his magnificent Musical Marble Machine
View 3 Images
The metal marbles wait their turn to make music
1/3
The metal marbles wait their turn to make music
The birch ply Musical Marble Machine is made up of 3,000 components and makes use of over 2,000 metal marbles
2/3
The birch ply Musical Marble Machine is made up of 3,000 components and makes use of over 2,000 metal marbles
Martin Molin with his magnificent Musical Marble Machine
3/3
Martin Molin with his magnificent Musical Marble Machine
View gallery - 3 images

Artist Martin Molin has spent the last 14 months designing and hand-building the Musical Marble Machine, a huge loom- or printing press-like contraption made from birch ply that makes use of 2,000 metal balls to play a tune. The musician-powered machine drops marbles onto the instrument surface, notes sound and the orbs are collected and re-used again.

Before any music can be heard, the player needs to start turning a hand-crank that spins a flywheel which drives an intricate mix of wooden cogs, wheels and belts. The machine is made up of 3,000 components in all. The repeating melody to be played is composed beforehand using the two main wheels at the center of the machine, where raised pins hit wooden blocks or levers that stop or allow through queued marbles.

The metal marbles wait their turn to make music
The metal marbles wait their turn to make music

Marbles get scooped up from below and are fed to each instrument queue according to open or closed levers, allowing for individual instrument sounds to be played as desired. Notes are produced as marbles hit the bars of the vibraphone, the surface of the kick and snare pads, a crash cymbal and the strings of a Hofner copy electric bass guitar before bouncing off into collectors at the front to be sent back to the top of the machine again. Only one hand is required to wind the crank, allowing the other to be used to fret the bass.

The end result is mesmerizing, as you can see from the video below.

Source: Wintergatan

Wintergatan - Marble Machine (music instrument using 2000 marbles)

View gallery - 3 images
12 comments
Island Architect
Fantasia and fantastic, absolutely wonderful and of course extremely ingenious!
THANK YOU MARTIN!
KenMarier
Wow, truly wonderful on so many levels. The concept has a Victorian aspect that feels very modern. I look forward to viewing again. Catchy tune too.
DDHawk
Fascinating...an even more complicated music machine than the calliope, well done ;)
Douglas Bennett Rogers
Remarkable achievement with all Victorian technology!
TimothyRichburg
Amazing!
Alien
Remarkable! Clever, ingenious and it works. I'll bet there are no fat musicians in this orchestra. He was working hard to keep it fully wound in the video. Perhaps the next stage could include and electric motor drive?
Congratulations to Martin Molin on a most unusual achievement.
Tacky-on
Its more music-box instrument hybrid I would say. Instruments stop playing when you walk away from them.
owlbeyou
The fact that it's not motorized makes it more appealing. Lots of detail in the 2000 ball bearings and 3000 parts. It's left in an unpolished and almost crude like state possibly on purpose. As much a visual feast as well as an aural experience.
Bob Flint
Mesmerizing....well worth the watch...
Vanilla Cat
Absolutely brilliant! He seems to have forgotten the shoulder strap though.