Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Viola organista

Polish concert pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki has a knack for building musical instruments in addition to playing them. He decided to bring to life the viola organista which existed only as a sketch and notes by Leonardo da Vinci in his 12-volume Codex Atlanticus. Zubrzycki spent 3 years and 5,000 hours putting together something that looks like a baby grand piano. But when the notes are played, the strings are not struck by wooden hammers but rubbed by 4 spinning wheels wrapped in horse-tail hair. This causes the instrument to make sounds described as something between a harpsichord, a cello, an organ, an accordion, and a violin (or perhaps midway between a glass harmonica and a katzenklavier). Zubrzycki debuted the viola organista - never heard by da Vinci himself – at the Academy of Music in Kraków (VIDEO HERE). Zubrzycki notes, ‘‘I have no idea what Leonardo da Vinci might think of the instrument I’ve made, but I’d hope he’d be pleased.’’

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