Somerville is a community of makers. It's home to the Artisan's Asylum, a community and school for hobbyists, inventors and tinkerers. It's a place where imaginative historical markers can spring up overnight and robots will soon roam the streets. So today's post is a nod to that Übermaker, Leonardo da Vinci. Among the many inventions Leonardo envisioned was the "viola organista:" a piano combined with a cello. No one has ever made, let alone played, a viola organista.
Slawomir Zubrzycki, a Polish concert pianist and accomplished maker in his own right, took da Vinci's sketch and notes from the Codex Atlanticus and built the very first viola organista. It looks like a piano, but works nothing like one. Instead of hammered dulcimers, it has wheels wrapped in horse-tail hair. The Sydney Morning Herald has a description of how it works here. Here is a clip of the first performance of the viola organista, at the International Royal Cracow Piano Festival: