Da Vinci’s Viola Organista

hurdy gurdy

Leonardo Da Vinci had many unfinished projects, not unlike many hackers here. Lucky for us though, he was a bit better at writing down his ideas than we are. This is his Viola Organista, as recreated by [Slawomir Zubrzycki] — a mechanical work of art, that sounds good too!

If you’re familiar with a Hurdy gurdy, this is basically the same thing — but on a much bigger scale. It is the combination of an organ, a harp, and a viola. Instead of a hammer hitting the 61 steel-strings, spinning wheels of horse-hair (similar to a bow) caress each string via input from the keyboard and the pedal powered crankshaft. The result is a very unique sound, which is reminiscent to each of the instruments it combines.

The designs for the instrument were found in Da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus, a 12-volume collection of many of his manuscripts and designs, documenting everything from his flying machines to weaponry. [Slawomir] spent three years and over 5000 hours perfecting his version of it.

Stick around after the break to hear it in action! Don’t forget to turn on the subtitles though, unless you’re fluent in Polish!

Continue reading “Da Vinci’s Viola Organista”

Furbies transformed into a Furby Gurdy


[David Crammer] must really like nightmares. The hurdy gurdy is a stringed musical instrument, dating as far back as the eleventh century A.D., where the strings are sounded via a rosined wheel that is turned with a crank. [Crammer] took this unique instrument, applied his circuit-bending and Furby-scalping skills to generate a Furby Gurdy that sound like Kraftwerk on acid.

[via Gizmodo]