Approximately 500 years ago, 15th-century artist Leonardo Da Vinci designed an instrument in his Codex Atlanticus, a hybrid between a cello, a harpsicord, viola and an organ called a viola organista. It was never attempted to be built until now. Thanks to Slawomir Zubrzycki, a Polish concert pianist has spent three years of his life building the instrument, spending approximately 5,000 hours in total.
Visually, it looks like a small grand piano; it doesn't, however, have hammered strings. Similar to the bows of the violin, there are actually four spinning wheels wrapped in horse tail hair. To turn these wheels, the pianist is required to step on a pedal connected to a crankshaft.
On speaking about the viola organista, Zubrzycki says, "I don't know what Da Vinci would say about that, but the instrument is very expressive, [w]hen I want to make something, my instrument makes something more — like it's talking to me."
The instrument first debuted in Krakow, Poland.
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A Polish Pianist has Recreated a 500 Year-Old Instrument
Published: Nov 26, 2013 • References: uproxx