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This remarkably beautiful video, uploaded to YouTube one day before the T?hoku earthquake and tsunami, turns out to be an ad for Sharp’s SH-08C handset. It is, nonetheless, something you shouldn’t miss: in a tranquil forest, a single wooden ball rolls down a stepped wooden ramp, continuously, for two minutes. At each step, it falls and strikes a wooden bar tuned to play a single note of the 10th movement of Bach’s Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147, commonly known by its English title, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. Wait ’till you see how they handle the sustained notes. [Thanks, Rachel!]

Top 10: Rube Goldberg Machines

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.



  1. Bill Eccles says:

    I still can’t believe I’m the only one who realizes that this isn’t Bach’s Goldberg Variations, but rather a Goldberg variation of Bach…

    1. Mike Sanders says:

      Wow aren’t you the clever one please see my response to Ale Tirabo above and insert whatever your name is.

      1. Ethan Murai says:

        I think he was making a pun with reference to both Bach’s harpsichord piece and Rube Goldberg machines.

      2. Ethan Murai says:

        I think he was making a pun with reference to both Bach’s harpsichord piece and Rube Goldberg machines.

      3. Ethan Murai says:

        I think he was making a pun with reference to both Bach’s harpsichord piece and Rube Goldberg machines.

      4. Rubinstein “concerto” or “orchestra” via the Goldberg variations by Bach?

  2. très beau, même si de temps en temps la note n’y est pas

  3. YvetteS says:

    I could watch this over and over again! Simply amazing!

  4. constance kowalski says:

    What a beautiful, simplistic rendering of one of the world’s great musical pieces! Thank you for the opportunity to experience this awe-inspiring event.

  5. cool but obviously fake

    1. Jason says:

      why is it a fake Marc? because you cant believe that they would set up and spend all that time? ppl do amazing things good and bad the us spent a decade and 12 million to create a pen that would work in space/underwater/ subzero and up to 300 degree C temps. while the Russians just used pencils. This is great

      1. anton says:
        A common urban legend states that, faced with the fact that ball-point pens will not write in zero-gravity, NASA spent a large amount of money to develop a pen that would write in the conditions experienced during spaceflight (the result purportedly being the Fisher Space Pen), while the Soviet Union took the simpler (and cheaper) route of just using pencils.[1] This story is in fact false, [keep reading]

  6. Wow – this is awesome Lisa.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Completely, unnecessarily, wonderful.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful, great, original and all that, but really; “Touch wood”?

  9. Ale Tirabo says:

    How many beatiful trees were necessary for few seconds of poor music?

    1. Dettarer says:

      The video says that all the materials used in the video come from forest management efforts, so the materials used there are mostly from undergrowth, not big trees. Many forests in Japan are becoming overgrown because those forests were meant to be actively managed and logged but logging in Japan mostly went out of business since then. So, keeping those forests healthy is becoming an issue — they need to be periodically thinned but those unmanaged forests no longer produce building materials (not straight enough, too thin, etc etc), so funding such effort is becoming a challenge. Thus the phones with wood cover — they actually are paying for the low-grade wood, which in turn is paying for the forest management. At least, that’s what the ad is trying to convey.

    2. Andy Horning says:

      I suppose they could have used bones, if you’d prefer.

    3. Anonymous says:

      How much oil did you burn to save a few seconds of walk time today?
      How much coal was burned to power the PC you are typing on?
      How many animals and plants were killed for the clothes you are wearing?
      How much of my air did you waste, blowing all that hot air of yours?

      Is there ever anything that can happen that you wont look for the negative in, and spout off about to make yourself feel superior?

      1. can i like this twice????

    4. Anonymous says:

      Negativity, missing the beautiy……….gotta be a lib

      1. Sarah Howell says:

        what a morainic, judgmental statement. Must be a conserv

    5. Mike Sanders says:

      What a prick!! The music is exceptional and I have shown it to my grandchildren, it is inspirational, you on the other hand are taking up valuable space on this planet

    6. I beg your pardon? Poor music? I beg to differ my uneducated friend. :D It’s so beautiful! Better they do that than waste their time on computers searching for videos to complain about! 

  10. I think its a nice work.

  11. Those clever Japanese!

  12. How absolutely charming this is. Made me smile.

  13. Debbi Miller says:

    For all those who have heard my answering machine…

  14. A really beautiful must-see.

  15. Wow! How does one even know where to start to come up with such a great idea. And the way the wood is set up…somebody knows their keys very very well. And it flowed with Gods creatiion. Great job!

  16. I think its a great work done.

  17. Shane Green says:

    Ok, we need plans on how to make these!

  18. Way cool… favorite Bach.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Think about the work that went into this, and cutting the wood to right length, and the angle to make that sound. What workmanship! The amount of trial and error, incredible. 

  20. Celia Linde says:

     Musical poetry in the forest!

  21. Celia Linde says:

     Musical poetry in the forest!

  22. Celia Linde says:

     Musical poetry in the forest!

  23. Kaleb B Karr says:

    I saw this a while back and have been trying to find it again. the phone might loke…wierd but the video is really cool.

  24. Fantastic!!!!!  Please watch and listen!  It is amazing!!!

  25. Fantastic!!!!!  Please watch and listen!  It is amazing!!!

  26. Please listen and watch this!  It is amazing! Very, very creative!!  

  27. good example of too much time and money of big corporate phone companies ha!

  28. good example of too much time and money of big corporate phone companies ha!

  29. I am speechless with wonder at this creation.

  30. I am speechless with wonder at this creation.

  31. I am speechless with wonder at this creation.

  32. Jay Parker says:

    Is this truly a marimba, or just a xylophone?

  33. […] Make: Online Japanese Gravity Marimba Plays Bach In An Ancient Forest. This is a remarkable video that shows a handcrafted rendition of Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. […]