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Da Vinci’s Hybrid Piano Instrument Heard for the First Time…

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One of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions has come to life for the first time.  The Age reports that plans for a “viola organista” were followed by Polish concert pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki.  The plans came from da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus, a twelve volume set of drawings and writings.

Zubrzycki constructed the instrument over three years and 5,000 hours. He says:

“This instrument has the characteristics of three we know: the harpsichord, the organ and the viola da gamba.”

The instrument is similar to a baby grand piano both in outside appearance and the steel strings it has inside of it, yet it sounds more like a string section.  The inside strings are connected to the keys on the keyboard.  It has “four spinning wheels wrapped in horse-tail hair, like violin bows” which are turned via a pedal under the keyboard. When the keys are pushed down the strings are pushed onto the turning wheels, emitting sound.

Zubrzycki has uploaded a video of the instrument’s first public performance last month:


Image by Eternal*Voyageur, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).

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Comments (7)
  1. Anonymous

    “The instrument is similar to a baby grand piano both in outside appearance and the steel strings it has inside of it, yet it sounds more like a string section”

    OMG, this would have changed the course of classical music, had it been constructed 500 years ago. What an outstanding composing tool. The world’s first one man band gear, including organ, fake strings and much more.

    Don’t know why theage.com.au would describe this as ‘wacky’?


    Reply
  2. musicmachineshop.com

    The first symphonic virtual instrument?


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Indeed. Perhaps it’s time to take another look at Leonardo’s inventions. Minus the weapons, that is…


      Reply
  3. FactCheckingMatters

    It was actually built and heard for the first time in 2004. Do your research.


    Reply
    1. Punk Afficionado

      You are not speaking of the botched simulation out of Antwerp!?


      Reply

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