Tech

Today I learned about the band making a giant marble-based instrument

Swedish band Wintergatan may be widely known for its Marble Machine music video (which featured a machine dropping marbles to play drums, a bass, and other instruments), but today I learned that they’re building a bigger, better version, and documenting the entire process on YouTube. It’s called the Marble Machine X, and it’s driven by a motor instead of a hand crank, is being built by an entire team of people, and, hopefully will be able to go on tour and be played on stage when it’s finished.

Wintergartan also produced a build log of the first machine, but this new project is way grander in scope, offering a deeper look at the creative process that leads to… well, building a massive musical instrument that uses marbles. The band put out eight build videos for the original machine before it released its debut music video — the build log for the Marble Machine X is at 161 videos and counting. (If you were looking for something to do this weekend, that’s quite a backlog of delightfully nerdy content to fill your time with!)

It also turns out that, when you’re building a machine made to sling marbles to make tunes, almost every part of that process is interesting. The music nerd in me squealed in delight when Martin Molin, the band member that’s working with a team to build the machine, showed off the 28-audio channel cable they’re using to keep the machine looking clean and wire-free. There’s also the fascinating video that first got me hooked, where he shows off an immaculately-crafted wood piece that sorts marbles equally into four tracks. Or, rather, the piece of wood that doesn’t do that job properly, which is why he’s now designing a replacement.

The videos aren’t exactly obscure: Wintergatan has over 2.2 million subscribers on YouTube, and some of the videos about the Marble Machine X have close to that number of views. But somehow I, someone who routinely watches videos about people building weird, awesome instruments, had just missed it until now, so I figured I’d share the joy in case the YouTube algorithm had also kept this hidden from you. I can’t wait to hear Wintergatan fully turn the thing on, and do an epic remaster of the original Marble Machine song.

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