Listen to a Organ Designed by Leonardo Da Vinci

(Photo: Tomasz Wiech/AFP)

Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks are filled with sketches for amazing inventions, many of which never saw execution in his day. He designed concepts for submarines, flying machines and, it turns out, a unique organ.

Leonardo called it the “viola organista.” It’s a big machine with steel strings and wheels and appears to be part organ, part harpsichord and part viola de gamba. Slawomir Zubrzycki, a Polish pianist and instrument maker, built one from Leonardo’s sketches.

The viola organista has 61 strings, but no hammered dulcimers. Instead, it has wheel-shaped violin bows:

To turn them, Zubrzycki pumps a pedal below the keyboard connected to a crankshaft. As he tinkles the keys, they press the strings down onto the wheels, emitting rich, sonorous tones reminiscent of a cello, an organ and even an accordion.

Here’s the world debut performance of Leonardo’s instrument, played by Zubrzycki himself.

(Video Link)

-via Popular Science

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