Leonardo’s Viola Organista

Viola OrganistaIt wasn’t just tanks, flying machines and siege engines. Da Vinci’s inventions also ran to a strange and novel musical instrument, the viola organista, that merged harpsichord and cello to be a keyboard instrument that sounds like strings, as spinning wheels of horsehair run along the strings as the keys are played. And, as this news item notes, Polish concert pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki has built one to his design–and, as the embedded video in that piece demonstrates, it has a fascinating and rather rich sound. Ah, Leonardo: just what didn’t you dream up?

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