I remember several years back on my local PBS station, watching a series of CGI music videos called Animusic, the concept of which was that there were these incredibly intricate music machine setups (one had drums, xylophones, vibraphones, and various stringed instruments, one was a guitar/mandolin/lute/bass monstrosity), played by themselves either through the use of mechanical fingers or well timed, strategically placed marbles. I remember watching these 3D animated marvels and thinking how damn near impossible it would be to put together a machine with that kind of precision and accuracy.
Fast forward about 15 years later; I come across this video of Martin Molin of the Swedish folktronica band Wintergatan controlling this giant wooden music contraption that consists of a glockenspiel, electric bass, and drums. Teenage me shed a single tear of happiness. It’s powered by a hand crank and several levers that control the movement of some 2,000 marbles that combined (along with Molin fretting the bass), hammer out a fun, danceable groove that has me both impressed, and somewhat nostalgic. I wonder if Molin and those that helped him with this machine were influenced by Animusic back in the turn of the 21st century?
Check out the above video to marvel at this amazing feat of musical engineering, and after that, check out the video of how this musical contraption was made.