Swedish musician Martin Molin has always had a fascination with weird instruments like the glockenspiel or the Theremin. Perhaps it was this fascination with the bizarre that led him to create what may well be the most insanely awesome instrument I’ve ever seen: the Wintergatan Marble Machine. The Marble Machine is a hand-cranked monstrosity of a music box that features a vibraphone, a bass guitar, kick drum, cymbals, and a host of other instruments. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention the intricately complex system of 2,000 cascading steel marbles (technically ball bearings, but whatever)?
As he spins the crank, those 2,000 marbles make their way through the inner workings of a machine with around 3,000 internal parts, activating various instruments as they go. Additionally, there is a central wheel made of LEGO Technic parts that plays a score programmed onto a 32-bar loop. All in all, it’s a machine that would probably make Rube Goldberg’s head spin, and Molin plays it masterfully.
According to Molin, he got the idea from stumbling upon the subculture of marble machines, but wanted to make his version fully programmable. He set aside two months of time for it in August of 2014, but quickly realized it’d take a lot longer. All told, it took 14 months to build the whole thing. Molin crafted most of the parts on the fly, which is why it looks as Frankenstein-ish as it does. As cool as the machine is, it’s sadly staying in place for now – it’d have to be totally disassembled in order to move it.
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