Mace Francis

The Music Mill

The Music Mill is a solar powered sound sculpture made up of many automated musical instruments: glockenspiel, marimba, tuned pipes, snare drum, bass drum and cow bell. Each instrument is manually programmed through the use of pins and lift arms to create different melodies and rhythms. It is like a giant kids toy which brings joy to small and big kids!

Why Make This?
I have been helping Japanese saxophonist and composer Makoto Oka to create one in Japan over the last few years and now I am building one for Perth.

What I love about The Music Mill is the purely analogue way to create music with it. The whole process of making music is visible – the motor turns the gears which lifts arms and beaters which then hit instruments to create joyous sounds. It is programmable but has a life of its own.

While it makes music by itself it is fun to play along with. Here is Makoto and myself playing along with the Japanese Music Mill at the Tobigamori Festival in Iwate Prefecture in Northern Japan.