He is probably most known for his famous paintings “The Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper.”
What many people probably don’t know about Leonardo was that he was an excellent musician. However, in his day, he was renowned as a brilliant musician along with his other known talents. He was popular at the palaces of his patrons because of his musical talents and ability to entertain at events. It’s even been recorded that he was asked to perform at events and parties of very influential people including the Regent of Milan, Ludovico Sforza.
In fact, Leonardo applied for a position as an inventor under Ludovico Sforza and was hired. Later, historian Giorgio Vasari stated that it was probably his “courtly charms” and his talents as a musician that were responsible for him being hired.
He knew how to play the flute and the lyre, which was a stringed instrument well known for its use in Greek antiquity. And according to Historian Vasari who knew Da Vinci, said that “he sang divinely without any preparation.” We even have a few manuscripts that contain some original musical compositions that still exist today. It is believed that Da Vinci probably had written more music but it was never found.
There is little doubt that music played an influential role in the development of Da Vinci’s mind. Though Da Vinci is most known for being an exceptional painter, he acknowledged that music was only second to the supremacy of vision.
Leonardo wrote, “Music may be called the sister of painting, for she is dependent upon hearing, the sense which comes second…painting excels and ranks higher than music, because it does not fade away as soon as it is born…”
When Da Vinci painted, he always sought musical accompaniment to stimulate his senses. He believed that when all his senses were awake, the mind could be better nourished and more productive. Probably all the masterpiece paintings that we all enjoy looking at were given birth with musical notes flying through the air.
This begs the question: Did learning how to play musical instruments and to compose music put Da Vinci on a path towards being a genius? No one could possibly answer this question with the utmost certainty. But I believe music did have an impact.
Listening (music, sounds, and silence) was second on his list of senses, and he wrote a lot about the importance of developing all the senses in harmony to achieve the highest levels of consciousness. He even wrote about it and put a lot of careful thought about the balance of Art and Science. According to Da Vinci, the two were indivisible and necessary to achieve understanding of the logic and beauty of the world.
Music is a human need that cherishes beauty, and underneath that blanket of beauty, lie the details, the precision, the logic, and the code of organized sound. For those who pursue an understanding of music and its beauty, will develop an intellect that can discover, analyze, and rationalize, and can aspire to be creative and productive like that of Leonardo Da Vinci.