Leonardo da Vinci or Lady Gaga?

In my YES column of “What I Would Like for Christmas” is this wonderful instrument originally designed, but never built, by Leonardo da Vinci. Polish pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki spent four years building his own version of it and debuted the instrument at the Academy of Music in Krakow, Poland last month.

According to Gizmodo, this is how the instrument works:

In the place of a piano’s felt hammers, spinning wheels draw across the strings like a violinist’s bow. The player operates a foot pedal to spin the wheels, playing notes on a keyboard identical to a piano’s. But the sound, sinewy like a stringed instrument but with a piano’s direct, well-defined tones, defies comparison to traditional instruments.

The instrument would require a great deal of skill, as the performer would have to pump the pedal constantly and play the keys in the crawling style of an organ (since the pedal would not act as a damper pedal, allowing the tones to vibrate). I am an organist as well as a pianist, so I would dearly love a chance to try it.Lady Gaga

Colin-hand in hair
What I find absolutely creepy is the new Lady Gaga life-sized doll. (Just in case you can’t tell, the real Gaga is the one in red. I think that one looks more like a doll than the others.) Santa can leave that off my list. Now, a life-sized Colin Firth as Darcy might be decorative . . . hmmmmmmm . . . no. Mannequins who look like living (or dead) people standing or sitting around the house are just too weird, even if they look as good as Colin Firth.

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “Leonardo da Vinci or Lady Gaga?

  1. Laura Hile

    Where do you dig up these stories, Robin? 😛

    Now a life-sized Colin Firth I can kind of understand. I agree, it would be way too weird (not to mention kinky) to have a plastic Colin hanging out on the sofa. (I have three grown boys vying for that spot as it is.)

    But at least Colin is easy on the eyes. Lady Gaga?

    I scratch my head and wonder who would order one. What were the marketing people thinking? A spendy gag gift for a pal? Or something different than the usual giant stuffed toy for a girlfriend’s little girl? *shudder*

    Maybe if I owned a clothing boutique I’d buy one for a window display. You know, to have Lady G model my clothes? Or, ha, display my books? But I’m thinking there’s a tag on the product that says “For Home Use Only.”

    Which sounds even weirder.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Robin Helm Post author

      I’m thinking you’re right that the doll could not be used for commercial purposes. Perhaps I could have a Colin Firth standing by the kitchen door looking welcoming. ; )

      Like

      Reply
  2. Laura Hile

    Now that I’m home (my work computer does not have speakers), I’m able to listen to the viola organista. I’m trying to decide if it comes close to a glass harmonica (with harpsichord elements?), but I don’t think so. (That’s another instrument where the person playing must work the pedals) Thanks for sharing the link.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Robin Helm Post author

      I love this! I wish I could show all these videos to my children at school, but we can’t pull up YouTube there.

      Like

      Reply
  3. C. Allyn Pierson

    I have always thought that Madame Tussaud had to be really creepy…I haven’t actually been into a wax museum (wwwwaaaayyyyy too creepy to even consider!) but the pictures I have seen of celebrities in wax are bizarre. Why would you want to see a bad effigy of a celebrity when there are photos all over the place?

    Like

    Reply
    1. Robin Helm Post author

      I went to Madame Tussaud’s in New York, and I enjoyed the tour. Some of the wax figures were terrible, but others were really good. However, I certainly wouldn’t want any of them in my house. Too, too creepy.

      Like

      Reply
  4. C. Allyn Pierson

    Oh, and I think I will stick with my piano…I have enough trouble playing that, without having to constantly pedal…or I could play my dad’s player piano and just do the foot pedals without the fingers…either way would be preferable for someone of my limited musical talent!

    Like

    Reply
    1. Robin Helm Post author

      I was thinking about it after I published the post, and I wondered why they didn’t just power the wheels with electricity, thus eliminating the need for the performer to constantly pedal. I guess the man wanted the instrument to be exactly like what da Vinci invisioned. I don’t think improving it would be a bad thing.

      The main thing is that you enjoy playing, not that you are tremendously talented. I teach elementary music now, along with private lessons. I’ve decided that I want them to like music. I think that’s more important than how much theory they learn, though I do teach them simple theory. I go heavier on the theory with private students who show more ability and want to develop their skill more.

      Like

      Reply
      1. Laura Hile

        Well… the human-powered pedals mean that da Vinci’s instrument is green! Off the grid!

        I recall Gilligan’s Island and that funky bicycle-powered electric generator that the professor rigged up. My sons should power their video games in the same way. 🙂

        For me, playing an instrument is challenging enough. But to play and pedal at the same time? Too much coordination required. 😛 I’m one who struggles to chew gum and walk straight at the same time. So having one of those walking work stations for writing is out of the question!

        Like

        Reply
        1. Laura Hile

          Here’s a treadmill desk, in case you were wondering. I walk up and down stairs all day at school … and budget restrictions mean there’s no chance my classroom desk will be transformed like this.

          Like

          Reply
          1. Robin Helm Post author

            I don’t want a treadmill desk. It’s hard enough to make myself write now. If I had to exercise while I wrote, I’d NEVER do it.

            Like

            Reply
            1. Laura Hile

              We’re back to my struggle with walking and gum!

              But apparently some heavy-hitters swore by writing while standing: Kierkegaard, Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill, Virginia Woolf, and Ernest Hemingway. Not me! (she said ungrammatically)

              Plus, the act of walking (like listening to music, for me) would be distracting.

              Like

  5. Robin Helm Post author

    I could never study while listening to music either. I have to have my whole mind turned to studying or writing. Music distracts me unless I’m writing a scene which has music in it. Then I play the music as I write the scene.

    Like

    Reply
  6. janashe

    I can listen to someone else play the piano for hours, the harp for long periods too, but the organ.. not so much.. and this instrument, I was glad to know about it and to hear it – for just a bit – and that was enough I’m afraid. One commenter on youtube said it was a glorified hurdy-gurdy – have you played one of those Robin?
    I am in awe of those that play well, sing gloriously, write cleverly, paint beautifully … ah, does it show I have artist envy? ,, and really enjoy hearing ya’ll talk about your craft.
    As for Gaga ,, I have one of those ‘tall’ Barbies, about 3′ I guess, and that is freaky even though it’s a ‘toy’ the girls like;, can’t imagine a full sized Gaga staring at you … now Colin staring.. no, not even dressed as Darcy.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Robin Helm Post author

      I’ve played a pump organ. The music toward the middle of the video was better than the music at the beginning. I thought the instrument was very cleverly designed.

      We each have our own gifts and talents. I’m sure that there are many things you do well, Jan, that I could never do. I am a total klutz.

      A 3′ Barbie doll wouldn’t bother me. She has never been a real person. A life-sized Colin would probably inspire me to lose weight. I would be embarrassed for him to see me. lol

      Thanks, Jan!

      Like

      Reply

Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s