If you’ve spent any amount of time on the Internet, chances are you’ve seen the Wintergatan Marble Machine video. If you haven’t, stop reading this right now and go see it. We’ll wait. This article is not about that video, but about everything else in Wintergatan’s YouTube channel you might have missed – and you certainly don’t want to miss it.
Wintergatan’s channel is primarily dedicated to music, much in the same way that the Marble Machine is a musical instrument – but one with an incredible story of engineering to tell. Every video is a little different, focusing on different aspects of the engineering that goes into their homemade instruments. One might be about how to program music for a music box, starting with composing in midi, then transposing the notes onto ticker tape for the music box. The next video might be about woodworking techniques used in creating the mechanisms of the instruments. It’s one part woodworking, three parts engineering, a splash of experimentation, and a pinch of madness.
Unlike his prowess as a musician, Martin doesn’t excel at any one particular technique in his engineering. It’s all pretty rough cut wood, there’s plenty of mistakes when he’s punching out a melody on the music box, and his 3D printed drums rarely sound right the first time out. So much of the story of his videos is sharing the trial and error nature of engineering, experimenting with different jigs, mechanisms, and sounds. As incredible as the machines are, they’re also accessible.
The current focus of the channel is building a new version of the Marble machine – one that’s more reliable, more portable, more versatile. As Martin develops the machine, you’ll get to experiment the design and engineering that goes into each component, and it’s a massively exciting story to follow.