In a world where even a humble iPhone can program a half-decent beat, there’s never been a shortage of retro-leaning musicians taking technology from yesteryear to make music for today; from damaged vinyl to original Nintendo Gameboys, we thought we’d seen it all.
That was until we discovered Swedish musician Martin Molin’s Wintergartan Marble Machine (along with roughly 3 million other people who viewed his YouTube video over the last 48 hours…)
Molin’s device is a handmade music box comprised of over 3,000 gears, pulleys and levers, which control 2,000 marbles, using them to trigger a vibraphone and drum kit. The machine is entirely programmable, with the central wheel of the device being responsible for a 32-bar loop. As Molin tells Wired magazine: “I grew up making music on Midi, and everyone makes music on a grid nowadays, on computers. Even before digital they made fantastic, programmable music instruments. In bell towers and church towers that play a melody they always have a programming wheel exactly like the one that is on the marble machine”
It’s all about the grid.
You can watch Molin perform on his incredible machine below, and check out how it was constructed on Molin’s YouTube page.