Da Vinci's Original String Machine

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Polish pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki has constructed a one-of-a-kind keyboard instrument from plans drawn up by none other than Leonardo Da Vinci. Called the Viola Organista, it just may be the original (and ultimate) "string synthesizer." Using a mechanism similar to a hurdy-gurdy, four rotating wheels near the keyboard action act as continuous bows. Pressing one or more keys brings strings into contact with these bowing wheels.

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We've seen this principle in action once before at the 2013 Winter NAMM Show. Los Angeles instrument restorers Antiquity Music were exhibiting their Wheelharp, which came in both a barrel-shaped version and a form factor closer to a small harpsichord, with note ranges from three to five octaves in either. The Viola Organista differs in that it has four wheels instead of just one, and amounts to a real acoustic string ensemble you can play from a traditional 12-note keyboard.

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Source: Slate.com.