Sliding into town with a freezer full of instruments


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The Independent Culture

How long does an ice instrument last before it melts?

Terje Isungset, from Norway, is the first musician known to have pioneered the making of instruments from solid blocks of ice – including an ice horn, an iceophone, ice drums and percussion. He has performed his ethereal ice music with Norwegian singer Maria Skranes all around the world, and was at London's Somerset House two years ago. Now he is touring rural England with his freezer full of instruments, stopping off in Devon, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and even the remote village of Grampound, Cornwall.

“It takes a lot of planning for concerts unless the temperature is below freezing,” he says. “A concert lasts about 45 minutes in the UK – an ice horn will gradually melt while blowing it, and the smaller pieces from the iceophone will melt after five minutes. All this will affect the music.”

Isungset first made an ice chime 12 years ago which made an “amazingly beautiful” sound. “I never expected ice to sound like that,” he recalls. He hosts an Ice Music Festival in his home town of Geilo every new year at the first full moon, and challenges musicians to play different instruments, including ones he has commissioned, such as an ice guitar and an ice harp. “It's very difficult to practice these instruments because they melt and are not stable. Different ice makes different sounds.”

Ice Music UK Tour, 29 November to 2 December. For details visit