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Industrial designers create a new instrument for da Vinci sketches

on Friday,December 11,2009 22:12

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Spurred on by Dan Brown''s conspiracy-laden novel The Da Vinci Code, Leonardo da Vinci has experienced a bit of a renaissance in modern pop culture. As a highly influential artist and inventor, da Vinci''s works have ranged from the iconic Mona Lisa portrait to a rudimentary design of a helicopter.

Yet one invention of da Vinci''s has never seen the light of day, until now. An Italian Industrial design firm has constructed the world''s fist harpsichord-viola, a squat piano-like instrument designed by da Vinci over 500 years ago.

Part of the Leonardo da Vinci''s Workshop exhibit currently running at the Discovery Times Square Exposition in New York City, the harpsichord-viola was constructed based on sketches in da Vinci''s Codex Atlanticus

The instrument made its world debut under the skilled fingers of Christa Patton, a harpist who plays in the Piffaro Renaissance Band.

"I think the sound of the (harpsichord) viola is very revealing because it''s very sweet and that''s the sound he had in his ears," Patton tells NPR''s All Things Considered.

The peculiar instrument must be strapped to the musician''s chest, involves violin strings played with a keyboard and is powered by the motion of the player''s legs as they walk.

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