Watch And Listen As 2,000 Marbles Make Music

A Rube Goldberg soundsystem

Marble Machine
Marble Machine
Martin Molin playing his Wintergatan Marble Machine.Screenshot by author, from YouTube

Marbles are not known for their musical qualities. Clattering spheres ricochet through plastic towers in preschools, their collisions a cacophony lost amidst the everyday chaos of small children playing. In the hands, or, well, the machine of Martin Molin, those same marbles are transformed through volume and artifice into an amazing spectacle and impromptu concert.

Two thousand marbles flow through the 3000-part machine. They hit drum heads, fall in cascades, bounce off glockenspiel keys, and turn kinetic motion into aesthetic sound. Molin hand-cranks the marbles through the device, and then toggles various levers and switches to change the sound, turning it from an over-large music box into a musical instrument.

Similar devices have been simulated, like the Radeon 9700 Pipe Dream. While that was impressive from an animation standpoint, this marble-wielding masterpiece is very much a physical device. Molin's 14-month-long production process for the Wintergatan Marble Machine is extensively documented on YouTube. It's as much an engineering marvel as it is an aural delight.

Watch it below: