Man VS. Marble Machine: Sample Wintergatan's Folktronica & Self-Made InstrumentsMan VS. Marble Machine: Sample Wintergatan's Folktronica & Self-Made Instruments


Man VS. Marble Machine: Sample Wintergatan's Folktronica & Self-Made Instruments

16 bars, 64 beats, and a whole lotta marbles. The Marble Machine takes the concept of a “one-man-band” to another level: 2000 marbles trigger sounds like vibraphone melodies, snare hits, bass riffs, and cymbal crashes. The instrument was self-made by the frontman of Swedish folktronica band Wintergatan. Their own music—newly available on Tracklib!—fits that frenzy of loops, one-of-a-kind instruments, and musical curiosities.




January 5, 2023

Marble Machine's programming wheel is a 16-bar loop. So essentially, the machine creates loop-based music. In which way do loops influence Wintergatan's own music?

Martin Molin (of Wintergatan): "To make dynamic music from a very limited circular programming wheel with only 16 bars—and thus, 64 beats—is a nice challenge. Human eyes and ears love patterns. So the fact that the short pattern will be repeated many times can be an advantage. Some of my non-machine songs have a "DJ-restless" syndrome, where too many different parts and breakdowns hinder the flow. A loop-based, more repeated piece of music, can sometimes flow better."

In another interview, you said, "I love the possibilities created by technology and certainly don’t believe that things were better in the good old days." What made you go for creating the Marble Machine instead of exploring the endless possibilities of, say, modular synths or other existing technology?

The Marble Machine is more about my fascination and love for Newtonian physics and mechanics than it is about music. I use to joke that it would be much better to use a MIDI keyboard than the Marble Machine. [Laughs] However, once, and if I manage to build a functioning third-generation Marble Machine, the machine will help me make music that I wouldn't have done without it… The music comes from the limitations of the machine which is a really fun process.

"The music comes from the limitations of the machine which is a really fun process."

—Martin Molin (Marble Machine inventor and member of Wintergatan)

What can producers get out of sampling the instrument in terms of achieving (new) sounds?

There are some nice airy sounds from some Wintergatan breakdowns. Like vibraphones, music boxes, and glockenspiels. I think those can add a shimmer and atmosphere to any type of production.

What does sampling mean to you personally?

I have mostly created my own instruments to sample; recorded tone by tone to put that into the Logic sampler to program acoustic sounds with MIDI. I never actually ever sampled another song, but I'm looking very much forward to seeing what other producers are doing with Wintergatan’s music!

If you were to sample any of your own songs, which ones would that be, and for what type of productions?

I would put a 4/4 punchy beat to the arpeggios that start at 2:02 in "All Was Well." I would cut it up and time it to the beat and choose the chords I like the most. I think there's a potential for a really nice unique atmosphere to be made there. Add a punchy bassline. Or punchy drums and bass to contrast the airy music box. That could work! The intro arpeggio to "Slottskogen Disc Golf Club" can get the same treatment with great results, by the way. Have fun sampling!

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