Leonard da Vinci Instrument Makes Its Debut

Edoardo Zanon built and plays the first modern harpsichord-viola, based on the designs of Leonardo da Vinci.(Photo: Jim Zarroli/NPR)
Edoardo Zanon built and plays the first modern harpsichord-viola, based on the designs of Leonardo da Vinci.(Photo: Jim Zarroli/NPR)

Recently, NPR’s Robert Smith reported about the debut of Leonardo da Vinci’s harpsichord-viola in a concert in New York City. A partial sketch of the instrument appears in Leonardo’s largest manuscript, the Codex Atlanticus.

Leonardo3, an Italian collective dedicated to exploring and creating Leonardo’s designs, built the harpsichord-viola and displayed it in the Discovery Times Square Exhibition Leonardo da Vinci’s Workshop.

Smith’s story says it all.  Take a listen.

December 10, 2009 – More than 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci designed a completely new musical instrument. But the harpsichord-viola was just a figment of the his imagination until now.

Industrial designers from Italian firm Leonardo3 have reconstructed the instrument from sketches in Leonardo’s notebooks. There’s a slight problem, though: The mind of the great renaissance genius didn’t count on how noisy the machine would sound. Keep reading…

A brief Discovery News video report by James Williams shows the harpsichord-viola in action:

See?  Everything has a purpose.

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