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Be Amazed By This Marvelous Music Machine, Powered By 2,000 Marbles

NPR's Rachel Martin spoke with Martin Molin, creator of the marble machine, on Weekend Edition Sunday. You can hear their conversation at the audio link.

The "Marble Machine" is a musical instrument by way of a Rube Goldberg contraption, the love child of a barrel organ, a kick drum, a vibraphone and a bass — all powered by hand-cranked gears and 2,000 steel marbles.

The machine was built by Swedish musician Martin Molin, who fronts the Swedish band Wintergatan.

Molin told Wired UK that he had budgeted two months in his schedule to build his contraption.

Instead, it has taken him 14.

The video, beautifully filmed and edited by Hannes Knutsson, gives you a real sense of the instrument's size and engineering complexity in all of its carved wooden parts, which Molin built after drawing his design in 3-D software — the various elements are programmable, and Molin can change keys midsong. You can see videos about the process of creating the machine on Molin's own website.

As of now, Molin has built only one machine. Every time he needs to move it, the whole thing has to be broken down and rebuilt. He is hoping to build some new ones, including some that could be used for touring.

In the meantime, this video will be keeping the Internet fascinated.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Corrected: March 5, 2016 at 12:00 AM EST
A previous version of this story incorrectly listed the name of the the band which Martin Molin fronts as Wintergarten. It's actually Wintergatan.
Anastasia Tsioulcas
Anastasia Tsioulcas is a correspondent on NPR's Culture desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including the trial and conviction of former R&B superstar R. Kelly; backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; and gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards.