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Go to the woods of Kyushu, Japan. Engineer a massive xylophone (or is it a marimba?) to run down the slope of a forested hill. Take a wooden ball, place it at the top of said instrument, and push it. What do you get? Bach's treatment of a traditional church hymn! Namely, "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring."

And, all this for a Japanese commercial for a kidney-shaped smartphone with the tagline, "Touch Wood." I may be late to the party on this one, but when I think of all the time it took to set this up, the precision and measurements used to adjust it and actually make each piece, and how many takes the film crew shot, it continues to inspire even if it's a year old.

And, here you can see how it was made:

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788 Comments

WHAT a kill joy. To hell with professional musicians.

Hey, wait a minute . . I've been professional musician for nearly 50 years and I'm a union officer and I loved it!!! Please don't judge us all over some stuffy pompous jerk; however, I see your point of view based upon such a ridiculous comment.

I find a lot of, not all, professional musicians really snobbish. The team work here was amazing. Heard a discussion the other day in which a Chinese "chamber miusician" who mentioned how hard he found it to work as a team member and blamed it on the One-up-manship caused by the one child policy in China ... they want to be top dog ... I see marks of this in some of the comments of there so called professionals who love their own opinions.

completely out of subject, don't need to be professionel, just to like music and use your hears.. team work was amazing during the Shoah. And yes Chinese all want to be top dogs just like everyone else. And I love my opinion.

I liked it.
downer

Great question. However, the greatness of this commercial is in the perceived simplicity juxtaposed against the engineering of an instrument that virtually plays itself in a pristine setting of natural wonder and further alludes to the telephone as being a natural in this environment, which of course, it isn't. As a musician, I can see that you may well wonder at the sound quality produced, but this was not produced for an orchestration. It's a commercial. And an inventive one.

Very clever and a nice toy.

Grump hardly describes this person. A beautiful melody played beautifully in a beautiful quiet place.

Put down the crack pipe before you blog! I too am a musician and love the creativity and the environment.

Boo

I agree with your assessment! Also, how many trees were wasted to make this foolish commercial? Why not use less wood and just do several takes since the tune was so repetitive and boring? All to sell a wooden case for a telephone? I wonder if the deer and other creatures enjoyed the intrusion into their natural habitat? Why not show a human sitting quietly with a wooden encased telephone using the record "App" to capture the "natural sounds"?

Your simple-mindedness astounds me.
1) How many trees do you think were chopped down to place a oversized xylophone and a couple of film tracks? Well. Not many, thats for sure.
2) If you're talking about the amount of wood it takes to make such a xylophone, there are a lot of other, more pressing environmental issues that aren't being taken care of. Look at the recent slash-burn in Indonesia? If you're truly concerned avout the environment, stop being a ***** and do something actually productive.
3) It's a commercial. Commercials are meant to be DIFFERENT, it's supposed to garner the interests of the viewers. Seriously, how many 300+ notes xylophones have you seen? Evidently, id say its about 1.
4) So a video about an overextended xylophone isn't as interesting as "a human sitting quietly with a wooden encased telephone using the record "App" to capture the "natural sounds"? Really? I mean. It's all about personal preference here, but I really have to disagree.
5) And how does your proposed commercial ADVERTISE the COVER of the phone. You're simply setting the advertisement focus to be the FUNCTIONALITY of the phone in itself, and not the cover.
6) So a couple of people filming a commercial in a forest equates to a large disturbance in the forest such that specifically deers and other creatures might not appreciate it? Tell me, have you been on a hike? I would presume not since you're so concerned about animal disturbance.
Based on your claim of such a drastic disturbance in the forest, we should see that all movies or activities done within the forest be cancelled right? Since they're disturbing the peace. No more forest segmets for anymore movies yes? Bullcrap.
7) About the tune being repititive and boring, can you, kind sir share with us a link to youtube of you playing an original work of art that might perhaps be greater than the work of art Bach composed?
8) Reemphasizing my point, it's a commercial isn't it? Why can't you pompous people appreciate it for what it is? It's not a musical work of art, or an engineering feet, or a world record. It's a commercial, and it's a bloody good one. Enough with the criticism. Please just appreciate the work that they've put into the ad. If you're criticizing someone else's work then pray, show me how an ad is supposed to be done based on YOUR pristine standards. Go ahead and actually produce an advertisement and post it back here. We'll be the judge of whether it's better than this one. That's what the internet's for.

I look on it as a work of art- so what if it is a commercial-I didn't realize that until the end and I really was impressed with the work and engineering put into it. We are not all space scientists and for the pleasure of it- I suggest it makes me (at least) have a few minutes of pleasure

Pompous? Regardless of my thoughts about this endeavor, you, Sir/Madam, should look in the mirror before tossing that phrase about.

FWIW there were probably 20 people on that production team, tromping around in the woods, but I digress... Yes, it's a commercial - the "good" or "bad" of which will be analyzed and judged by one metric - the number of wood-covered cell phones it sells. My beef about commercials like this - they show the lovely pristine forest with the wonderful music-art-sculpture-whatever. What they don't show you is the environmental disaster that is probably being created where they manufacture those phones, nor do they show you the hundreds of human slaves working for $2/day in China or Vietnam to assemble those phones. I have seen those sweatshops firsthand. Workers toiling away for next to nothing, with unbelievably bad working conditions. Most people in the west wouldn't want their dog to live those conditions - yet it's A-OK for Asian kids as long as the price of those phones stays as low as possible.

I'm concerned about the amount of wood (trees) used to advertise, and to make this throw-away product.

Obviously you cannot read Japanese. The wood is from the trees fell down in a thinning operation, an imporatnt
silvicultural practice to boost the growth of the remaining trees in a stand. Usually the felled trees are small and could only be used with some creativity. Such as a case for your cell phone.

I liked it and I had no idea what it was..

Maybe it should have played "'tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free..." I feel sorry for you.

Yes, it would be appreciated even if not a "known" song. Playing a "well known" song makes it more interesting since the observer knows it s a "real" song played in an unconventional manner. Just making a bunch of notes strung together would be feat enough, but playing a song we recognize makes this even more impressive. The naysayers below are off the mark: this was great! Doing this is just another case of going past the mark: producing a commercial that resonates (pun intended) with the hearer. In Norway I drove down stretches of highway considered dangerous due to weather and such. They put in grooves alongside the lane to make that annoying sound to keep drivers on the straight and narrow. We see them everywhere today. The objective is to keep drivers awake and attentive. Normal grooves do just fine. But the Norwegians went above and beyond meeting the mark. I saw highway signs without words: just music notes. I was curious, but drove on. When my tires hit those grooves, however, they played music due to groove depth, spacing, etc. Music just filled the air! Outstanding! They met the mark, but went far above and beyond the mark. I liked this! And knowing the Japanese, I doubt seriously the wood was wasted. Tchuss!

I didn't know the piece of music being "played", and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The time, the patience, the art of making a "xylophone" , the precision of each piece of wood and where it's placed.....are all amazing feats!

Yes, if it had been a melody that we non-professional-musicians failed to recognise we would all be gazing at our feet, slack-jawed and vacantly scratching our crotches. I wish I were as clever as you.

Yes, if it had been a melody that we non-professional-musicians failed to recognise we would all be gazing at our feet, slack-jawed and vacantly scratching our crotches. I wish I were as clever as you.

um, you need to get over yourself. It's lovely.

Just enjoy the beauty of what it is. "As a professional music engineer myself", I say get off your snooty high horse and stop being such an ass. You'll see more.

Seriously? Your time would have been so much better spent making music than writing this.

If it were Mary had a little lamb I wouldn't have listened or cared. Might have even ridiculed them for wasting their time. But Bach is beautiful. And above that. I commend them for their diligence and teamwork and I bet the phone has few glitches

Of course you twit! Imagine the creative mind behind such an undertaking and the actual work carrying it out.
So you're a professional musician, big whoop!

Are you for real?

Are you serious with that long winded comment? This was breath taking and creative and the fact that it was surrounded in the silence and the beauty of the woods was mere genius! The team behind this had much to be proud of and I am thrilled to be able to not only watch the final product unfold as they planned but to watch the other video showing their precise wood work, their dedication to make the wooden ball hit just so correctly to attain the precise sound they wanted to achieve and the final landing of the drop to be spot on! Im must ask you again, are you serious???

How sad for you. You didn't see the forest through the trees. You might be a musician, but I can bet you didn't make your instrument.

You should know that appreciating the engineering feat that was accomplished here in the Touch Wood video has absolutely nothing to do with appreciating a presentation by a professional orchestra or symphony. These are two polar opposites. Your comparison is disparaging and unfair to both situations. This video by Touch Wood stands alone as a unique presentation using WOOD and gravity to present a musical piece that should make you appreciate the difficulties overcome and the product presented.

I've never heard this song before, but the engineering skill required to make this all work combined with the elegant nature themed simplicity of the instrument is quite lovely. You focus too heavily on what is missing in the song because of the limited scope of the instrument with out realizing or simply ignoring the nature theme. Everything about this is based on wood. The instrument is wood hitting wood, while in the woods, to sell an organic shaped object which also uses wood. It all comes together, with the sound of the instrument itself only being one element, but an important one, among several. It's not just about the music, Perhaps it's time that you stepped beyond your own box to recognize the whole of the project. You're too heavily focused on what you wish to be accomplished musically, and what you personally find pleasing to the ear. Watch it again, but this time with out such a condescending view point. On top of that, it's a commercial. It's meant to sell. You're going to complain that in an attempt to connect with buyers they chose a song that the majority of viewers had likely already heard and are fond of? At this point, it seems as if you've missed the point and the intentions of the creators on perhaps ever single possible level.

very thoughtful, Bogzop.

I believe you have a valid point in that, it is the effort and the concept which I find more appealing than the quality of the sound. That said and done, as an advertisement I can appreciate the genius involved in creating an effective concept that can capture ones imagine and sells a product.
This is an advertisement!!

As someone that had no clue what the tune was, I say "yes".

I agree that it is not really musical; it is a feat of engineering, an intellectual exercise. Considering some of the beautiful Japanese instruments made of wood, I have to wonder why they did not use such an instrument to convey the idea of "touching wood." There are recordings of Bach being performed on Japanese wooden flutes, which would have been more musical--and more in tune--as well as more likely to resonate emotionally.

Creativity is expressed in so many ways. Each art has its own standards and rules. The goal of being a creative person is to find a new way to express oneself with a reflection on the truth of human experience. The last writer sounded so elitist. It reminded me of the 19th century English literary critics who put down Dickens because he appealed to the "masses", and then later, the 20th century American critics who criticized him for "being overly sentimental." Funny that 200 years after his death, people still love Dickens.

Wow! So beautiful!

To me, it is a message for entire humanity that a wooden ball can make a beautiful musical sound on the bridge made of thousands pieces of wood. This is an example of a love and harmony that today's world should have so that we can create a beautiful world to live together. This is called " the sound of one hand clap". I should say 1+1000= 1, it's a unity of whole. This is what we entire human should unite as a whole like the ocean, like the sky, like the sound that came from this musical ball rolling down on its own with the beautiful siund of love and harmony.

Some of the most memorablemoments in life are whenone is childlike enough to do something just for the fun of it.
Without times like that, one could become a Grump!

Yeah, it should have been a Lady Gaga tune.

You could not have stated it better. I was ready to close the window when I noted there wasn't much left in time. But I'd rather hear it on a real instrument rather than this hoked up sort of xylophone that is limited to the one tinny piece of music.

You think too much.

Uh. I didn't know the tune and loved it. People like you make me want to puke. Always looking for the negative in everything. Let the rest of us live and enjoy life while you sit and rot in your negativity. This took tremendous effort and talent to build. Whether you like it or not appreciate that part of it...unless of course you are jealous that you didn't think of it or would know how to build it if you did.

You think an awful lot. I just had a great feeling.

Although I honestly think they did a good job and great effort, I do not find the resulting music "beautiful" by no means. I agree with Bogzop in that the achievement here is that it actually works. I am a musician too, by the way, jazz piano player, and let me add that our music backround should be irrelevant in this conversation :-)

Totally agree with Bogzop ( the "Grump"). I think he is spot on. Sorry, but the Spock in me sees this for what it is, and the musician in me is a bit nauseated that a company will pay buckets of money to make this device and film it for a phone commercial playing an old familiar tune, but to get equivalent financing to do something like this, but original, interesting, and designed to suit the instrument, would be like pulling teeth from a dragon. That says alot about how consumerism effects culture.

We get it. You're a musician, and somewhat pompous one at that. Yes, it would be as meaningful if the tune played was not one I recognized.

you might use less starch in your shirts!

Seems like you like the 'sound' of your own words...this was quite an achievement! I ditto the "me too" remarks...

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