Five centuries ago a man by the name of Leonardo Da Vinci sat down and sketched a design for something he clearly thought would improve what we now know as classical music. He never built the thing, though. Whatever the reason for not building it, more than 500 years after Da Vinci first sketched up the instrument, it has finally been constructed. (Video)
A polish concert pianist by the name of Slawomir Zubrzycki took it upon himself to lovingly construct the instrument depicted in Da Vinci’s design. Described as halfway between a piano and a cello, the unique instrument is called the Viola Organista. When played by Zubrzycki, it has the effect of sounding like a whole string section playing in perfect harmony.
The contraption works similar to a piano, with keys and steel strings inside. But unlike your run-of-the-mill piano the Viola Organista also contains four spinning wheels covered in taut horse hair. A foot pedal keeps the wheels spinning while pressing down on a given key lowers a corresponding string until it presses against the horse hair.
It took Zubrzycki 5000 hours to complete the Viola Organista’s build, a workload he spread over three years. Now that his Da Vinci-designed instrument is ready to play, he can relax. Having a one-of-a-kind instrument which was sketched up by the quintessential genius of the Renaissance probably means that Zubrzycki won’t be running short on gigs anytime soon.