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.
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.