(La Nature, 1883)
Father Kircher reports in Book VI of the Musurgia Universalis of an artist who invented, in order to dispel the melancholy of a prince who was beset by worries, a cat piano. Instead of strings, his instrument contained a number of cats’ tails inserted into narrow sheaths, beneath which there went up and down the hammers corresponding to keys, bearing on their extremities a sharp point. The cats are chosen by sex and age and arranged side by side in separate boxes according to the pitch of their voice.
Under the agile fingers of the pianist, the points of the hammers artfully attacked the animals’ tails. These responded first with meows quick and sharp, but then, enraged by the frequency of the pricks, they changed, crescendo et rinforzando, into sounds that could enliven the most sullen spirit, and make even the mice break out in dance.