Posts tagged “Viola Organista”

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Leo’s Wacky Cello Piano Harpsichord: The Viola Organista!

Leonardo DaVinci's Viola Organista

This wasn’t invented by no turtle… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sv3py3Ap8_Y

That wacky non-turtle Leonardo (the Da Vinci one) invented a whole heaping mess of all sorts of confabulous fraptraptions way back in the olden-timey days. We all know that, right?

Well, in the pages of the Codex Atlanticus (which is really a compilation of a bunch of his journals/sketchbooks) one could find illustrations outlining an idea for a keyed string instrument like a piano, but with spinning wheels that played the strings like a viola. It has come to be generally known as the Viola Organista (or Geigenwerk).

From all accounts Leo never actually made the instrument. Well, recently a guy named Sławomir Zubrzycki did make a Viola Organista, and played it at the International Royal Krakow Piano Festival!

It sounds pretty cool, almost like an Cello/Viola/Harpsichord, or an entire string section at times. It’s a very impressive technical and artistic achievement.

But it should be noted that this isn’t the first time an instrument like this has been produced. The Geigenwerk was developed way back in the late 1500s by Hans Haiden[1], and Akio Obuchi has been making them since 1993.

But at any rate, this is the first time I’ve ever heard this olden-times instrument. And it seems to be pretty popular; that YouTube video has well over a million views in just two weeks!

Via The Age

  1. ^ Edward L. Kottick, A History of the Harpsichord, Volume 1 p 236

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