What if you spent every day looking for One Beautiful Thing?

The Marble Machine



Martin Molin and his marvelous Marble Machine

2,000 marbles, 3,000 parts, and 14 months to build. This is The Marble Machine, a hand-cranked music box of sorts that incorporates loads of other instruments, all played by the machine’s cascading steel marbles. It’s like a Rube Goldberg machine on steroids. made of wood, gears, steel marbles, rice (yes, rice), coasters, matchboxes, LEGO parts, and guitar, xylophone, and drum parts, to name a few. Its mad inventor/creator/musician is Swedish musician Martin Molin, known for his fascination with unusual instruments. I read some of his writing about the process of preparing the machine, and this was clearly a difficult birth.

“The closer the machine gets to be finished the harder it gets to finish it. It is strange how that happens, when the finish line is in sight, everything slows down automatically except the avalanche of new unforeseen problems. We need to start making music now and spend less time picking up marbles from the floor soon soon soon. But it is happening. When it is finished, music will follow.”

To make matters worse, after announcing that the world premiere of the Machine’s first music video would be released on February 29, they just couldn’t get it done in time. He ended up having to postpone the release by one more day. That must have been a heartbreaking decision. Nonetheless, he finally prevailed, and the video has had more than 10.5 million hits since its release last week. That’s got to feel good. It was well worth the wait.

The plugs and wires you’ll see in the video are exclusively for the audio feed. The machine’s moving parts are all manually propelled. Like a more traditional music box, pegs can be moved and instrument parts can be tuned to enable the Marble Machine to play whatever Molin wants, but for its first piece, Molin “programmed” in something he composed just for the Machine. The composition illustrates both the Machine’s programmed play mode and Molin’s mastery of its manual features. It’s a real treat to watch in action, and it sounds marvelous, too!

Of course, I can’t resist the making-of video!

And now, in case you like me need to geek out on how it works, here are the nitty-gritty details!

Author: Donna from MyOBT

I have committed to spending part of every day looking for at least one beautiful thing, and sharing what I find with you lovelies!

18 thoughts on “The Marble Machine

  1. WOW! Totally enjoyed watching this. I did not believe it was making all of the sounds until I watched all of the videos. Not only does he have knowledge of music, but he is a carpenter too! Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is insanely cool! It makes me wish I had some ability with woodwork, engineering, and music, and all the other relevant skills I would need but am completely lacking.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. PS In Britain, we would call this a Heath Robinson contraption. It is interesting to me that we have different “patrons” of the ridiculous machine on different continents. Now I am wondering what they would call it in other countries but I am resisting googling because that is a rabbit hole I don’t have time for.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, how fantastic! Love it, so creative.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is beautiful. It makes my head spin from amazement and hurt from the amount of work involved at tne same time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So cool! Creative genius at work!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Video of the Week #50: Lost Your Marbles? | ARHtistic License

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