Martin Molin’s Magical Musical Marble Machine

Guest Blog by Annika Perry

Swedish-born, British-bred poet-storyteller Annika Perry explores all kinds of marvelous topics, but I found this one particularly “marble-ous” (my pun, so don’t blame her)!

Marbles! From early childhood games, the trick to winning more marbles becomes an obsession and soon one small leather pouchful just isn’t enough! However, they quickly become a fleeting memory for most of us. But one Swedish musician’s interest in making marble machines only deepened…

During a visit to the Speelklok Museum of self-playing musical instruments in Utrecht, Netherlands, Martin Molin was inspired to combine his passion for making self-playing machines into his most audacious project yet.

Why be content with playing a conventional instrument when you can build a contraption that uses 2,000 marbles to create a unique and melodic tune? Each part of this magical marble machine was hand-crafted, beautifully carved and engineered with tracks, pulleys and funnels collecting and rerouting the marbles. It is a labour of love and a stunning work of art!

Originally Martin, a member of the Swedish folktronica band (folk music + electronica) Wintergatan, thought the project would take two months. 16 months later, his Marble Music Machine was finally ready. And he’d created a music box like no one has never seen!

At first, the sheer energy is noticeable. Martin powers up the machine with a hand crank. As the marbles are fed into multiple traveling caddies, they are cleverly dropped via programmable gates, thereby falling and striking various instruments. Watch & listen!

The array of instruments is astonishing: vibraphone, bass guitar, cymbal, emulated kick drum, high hat and snare drum, each using contact microphones. Martin says,

“Marble machines always make music, but I was thinking maybe I can make a programmable marble machine, that doesnโ€™t make chaos but is actually controllable.โ€

He achieves this control through a music score which is stored on two programmable wheels utilizing Lego Technic beams and stud connectors to trigger armatures releasing the marbles and even allowing for key changes.

Fortunately, Martin’s passion for this unusual artform is flourishing and he has built a new and hugely ambitious Marble Machine X which utilises 50,000 marbles!

Marble Machine X

Martin’s original Marble Machine is on display and operating at the museum which inspired him, and I for one look forward to visiting Utrecht in the future to see and hear it in person!


About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
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22 Responses to Martin Molin’s Magical Musical Marble Machine

  1. This is such a fun post! (I’ll even forgive your pun.)

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Annika Perry says:

    Mitch, many thanks for sharing my post about Martin Molin and his amazing marble machine! It is wonderful that more can learn about his creative ingenuity and listen to the unique sound! As for the pun, it has me smiling … not sure Iโ€™d get away with it! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 3 people

  3. axobyo says:

    Woah, this is great work! Thanks for bringing this to our notice. Lovely write up.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Piano girl says:

    I show this video to my students! It is one of their favorites, and always leads to great discussions! I can see their wheels spinning as they watch and listen. Oh-and then I play the piano version for them to compare. ๐ŸŽถโค๏ธ๐ŸŽถ

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Gary Fultz says:

    All I can say is wow. I easily get side tracked by how much time went into making the gears and sizing them properly and all the inner workings. Then the money. I know how much a gear costs with the right metals mixture…then the synchronized sound. I just wouldn’t last very long as a chaos based philosopher (or evolutionist)

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Sue Cass says:

    WOW! This guy is a genius with those marbles but – he has too much time on his hands. lol That had to take a very long time to make, coordinate, etc. Not to mention the expense.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. numrhood says:

    do you remember the music machine with starring stevie & nancy

    Liked by 3 people

  8. francisashis says:

    Wow!This is stupendous,really mind blowing.Thanks a lot for sharing.Take care.๐ŸŒน๐Ÿ™

    Liked by 2 people

  9. lilyofthevalley777 says:

    Wow! Pure genius. Created 5 years ago, and will now have a new audience, thanks to your sharing. ๐ŸŽถโค

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Wow! I am not much into instrumental music but I was absolutely enthralled. I sat stock-still for the entire time, which is a first for me. The blend of many musical instruments using something as simple as marbles!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Ann Coleman says:

    I love Annika’s blog!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. marcella16092 says:

    That is so cool.

    Liked by 1 person

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