Work / Miscellaneous

Martin Molin creates a programmable marble machine to make music

For a period of 14 months, Martin Molin, founder of Swedish band Wintergatan decided to take a break from touring and focus his efforts on creating a programmable marble machine that would play a track. The project originally was scheduled to take two months, but the complexity of constructing the machine that combines a kick drum, snare drum, hi-hat, sizzle cymbal, electric bass and vibraphone saw the build take seven times longer than anticipated. Martin estimates that the machine has around 3000 parts, 300 screws, 500 Lego parts and was constructed with five sheets of Baltic birch plywood. To play the track, 2000 marbles need to pass through the mechanism.

“The marble gates were the hardest part, it’s the little mechanism that makes sure the marbles fall one by one, and not everyone falls at the same time. I spent months and months rebuilding this and then after six months doing many versions of the same thing I realised that the design idea just wasn’t good enough to start with,” says Martin. “The greatest part was when the gear train was ready and I saw that the mathematical equation was correct, the 64/1 gear ratio was vital in getting the machine working.”

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Photo: Samuel Westergren

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Photo: Samuel Westergren

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Photo: Samuel Westergren

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Photo: Samuel Westergren

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Photo: Samuel Westergren