Music Woodworking
Japanese Gravity Marimba Plays Bach In An Ancient Forest

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

126 thoughts on “Japanese Gravity Marimba Plays Bach In An Ancient Forest

  1. 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.

    1. 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

        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]

    1. 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. 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?

    3. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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. 

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan