A video of an automaton playing the dulcimer. David Roentgen (1743–1807), a famous German cabinetmaker, delivered this beautiful automaton to King Louis XVI for his queen, Marie Antoinette, in 1784.
This automaton is absolutely incredible, and it continues to delight audiences with its charm hundreds of years later. Notice that the dulcimer Marie Antoinette is playing looks very similar to a piano or harpsichord. This instrument, played with small, hand-held hammers, is the ancestor of the harpsichord that would be invented shortly after, where keys are pushed to strike the strings instead of being hitting manually. The sound is basically the same, but the revolutionary idea of keys instead of hammers would spark a new branch of instrument that would eventually evolve into the modern piano know today. In fact, the piano is still evolving to make an ever better sounding instrument. Hollow legs, adjustable keyboard weights, and specially treated piano strings are just a few of the newest ideas in the development of the piano. But anyway.
(via The Presurfer)