What you see here is real. This incredible marble machine actually exists and is playing the music you hear. Yes, the music was cleaned and filtered a bit digitally, but it is actually being played in real time by this fascinating machine.
The artist and creator is named Martin Molin and he makes beautiful music, often with creative and cobbled together instruments. Not only did Molin create this fantastic contraption, he documented the year-long build and shared that as well.
Here’s a quick view into his build process. You won’t pick up a ton of detail here, but it gives you a taste of how the whole machine came together.
If you’re looking for more, and you should be, watch the detailed build videos below. There are many tips and tricks you can pick up simply by seeing how he pulled off some of the construction.
#1 Mounting bits and creating a tiny gear
The video starts off with his main programmable piece already built. He’s mounting bits of plastic that are from Lego sets, which allow him to place pegs wherever he wants. These make this instrument essentially programmable.
#2 Building a giant gear with simple tools
These giant gears can appear daunting, bringing the assumption that it must take some large machinery to create them. In this video, Molin makes a fantastically simple gear using a jig saw and band saw.
#4 Testing funnels
We get to see the programmable nature in action as Molin tests the vibraphone aspect of the machine. He’s also testing his system for catching the marbles as they bounce away from the machine. As you can see, they still need a bit of refinement.
#5 Lifting marbles
The marbles have to be transferred from the collection spot at the bottom, all the way to the distribution center at the top. To achieve this, Molin has created a system that is belt driven and lifts 4 marbles at a time. The way he sorts them into 4 channels is pretty interesting as well.
#6 More gears
This video focuses on the gear system and belt that drive the marble lift shown in the previous video.
#7 Audio clean up
This video shows just how little filtering was actually done to give the stunning result shown in the music video. Simply placing microphones around the machine wasn’t going to deliver quite the results that Molin was after for his music video. It may be pleasant to stand and listen to, but he wanted a cleaner sound that didn’t have as many creaks and groans as you get from the machine. Some of the sounds were also midi effects, triggered by a marble hitting a paddle. This was all brought into software and simply cleaned like you would any other live performance.