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Saint of the Day: St. John I
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This carillon is a 500-year-old music machine that still sounds enchanting

J-P Mauro - published on 09/21/17

Martin Molin builds and seeks out musical contraptions for his Youtube series Music Machine Mondays.

Martin Molin is a musician and inventor who uses his skills as an engineer to build intricate apparatuses that play music. He became popular after releasing a Youtube video of himself playing a music box of his own design. The contraption uses over 2,000 marbles, traveling through a complex system of gears, cranks, and tubes to strike a xylophone, drums, and a bass guitar.

The most incredible aspect of this instrument is that it requires more effort from the musician than just spinning a crank. Molin is actually providing fingerings for the bass and pulling levers at precise moments to produce the sound he desired.

Earlier this year, he started a new series of videos on his Youtube channel, Wintergatan, entitled “Music Machine Mondays.” Each week he explores another form of automated music that predates the use of electricity.

For this edition of “Music Machine Mondays,” Molin traveled to the Speelklok museum, in the Netherlands, where the inspiration for his large “self-playing” instrument resides — the carillon. A carillon is a large musical instrument typically housed in a bell tower. It spins a large wheel with spokes set at deliberate intervals, which strike pegs connected to bells. The design is similar to Molin’s music box, except this Renaissance-era invention was ahead of him. On the side of this carillon is another set of pegs, aligned as a piano, so that melodies can be played manually with the musician’s fists.

Molin takes a moment to improvise at the end of the video, playing a haunting melody on somber bells. He makes a point of mentioning that he would like to make a machine with this more manual style. We can’t wait to see what wonders he invents next.

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