Poptimism

Musician Creates a Music Machine That Uses 2,000 Marbles

by Tod Perry

March 2, 2016

In a world where we’ve grown accustomed to songs sung by Auto-Tuned voices, recorded digitally using Pro Tools, and then played back on low-quality MP3s, Martin Molin’s new instrument injects some much-needed humanity back into music. His Wintergatan Marble Machine combines a vibraphone, percussion instruments, the neck of a bass guitar, and 2,000 marbles to create dance music from a contraption that would make Rube Goldberg  proud.

Built mainly from wood, the machin took Molin 14 months to construct, and it’s an amazing feat of engineering. The tracks, pulleys, and funnels route and reroute the marbles while the machine keeps time and pitch. “Marble machines always make music,” Molin told Wired. “But I was thinking maybe I can make a programmable marble machine, that doesn’t make chaos but is actually controllable in the sounds it makes.”

The music machine gets going with a large crank, and then Molin plays it live, adding percussion and bass, and changing up the melody as he goes. It’s almost like watching an EDM DJ work, but he’s actually doing something. One can only hope Molin and his machine get a headlining spot at Coachella next year.

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Musician Creates a Music Machine That Uses 2,000 Marbles