“Farm Machine Music”

Posted by AJ Harbison at 11:02 am

I received this video in an email from my father-in-law this morning. This is what was in the forwarded message (not including his skeptical comment, “Is this for real?”):

Last seen and heard 2-3 years ago. Good to see and hear it again.
This incredible machine was built as a collaborative effort between the
Robert M. Trammell Music Conservatory and the Sharon Wick School of
Engineering at the University of Iowa .. Amazingly, 97% of
the machines components came from John Deere Industries and Irrigation
Equipment of Bancroft , Iowa ..Yes, farm equipment!

It took the team a combined 13,029 hours of set-up, alignment,
calibration, and tuning before filming this video but as you can see it
was WELL worth the effort.

It is now on display in the Matthew Gerhard Alumni Hall at the University
and is already slated to be donated to the Smithsonian.

Unfortunately, it’s pretty clear that this is fake. The whole look and feel of the video is very computer-animated-ish, and it would be very strange if the xylophonic-type instrument would actually light up as its bars were hit. But the most important tell-tale sign of fakery is the sound quality. There aren’t any microphones visible anywhere in the setup, and obviously if this was an acoustic instrument as the quote claims, there would have to be microphones to pick up the sound. And even if there were microphones that somehow weren’t visible in the video, the sound quality of the audio would not be nearly as neat and polished as it is–there would be a great deal of ambient noise, both from the space in general and from the bleeding of different parts of the “instrument” into each microphone.

And to confirm my suspicions, the trustworthy rumor-busting site Snopes.com has exposed it as false in their article “Farm Machine Music.” It was created originally as a computer animation, but then was picked up by someone and passed off as a real video.

Nonetheless, it’s definitely an impressive animation and a fun song. Enjoy!



  1. Gravatar

    Idhrendur on 10.29.2009

    “Xylophonic-type instrument” – I hear vibraphone and later, marimba.

    And it is possible to catch reflections of light off vibrahpone keys like that, but not from all angles.

  2. Gravatar

    Ryan Fleming on 10.30.2009

    LOL! This was a great video. The animations skills are quite outstanding. Another sign that its a fake is the way it was filmed. The fluidity of motion as it moves throughout the room capturing every angle wouldn’t be possible in real life. Not to mention that there is no freaking way that every single ball could be launched with the precise velocity and angle and timing to hit exactly where it needed to be.

    I really loved the train-like marimba towards the second half. It was neat to see the rhythms that were coming by the amount of spacing in between each note. It was a good visual.

    All-in-all a great work of art…even though it is more animational than musical or mechanical.

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