Terje Isungset, one of the world’s most talented percussionists, creates ice music with instruments he carves out of pure glacier ice.
Born in the Norwegian village of Geilo, Isungset grew up surrounded by a family of musicians, and grew up to be one of the most innovative percussionists of our time, Over the years, he has created musical instruments out of natural materials like arctic birch, granite, slate, but the thing he is most passionate about is making ice music, a style that he pioneered through the creation of ice instruments.
Isungset first fell in love with ice music in the year 2000, when the commission for the Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games asked him to compose and play in a frozen waterfall. He was already renown for creating musical instruments out of other primitive materials, but he had never worked with ice. He took it as a challenge and managed to compose a greatly appreciated minimalist composition with just whatever the river provided – ice, water, stone and some wood.
Terje Isungset describes the process of making ice music and ice instruments as hard work and a continuing learning process. Most of his tools are made of pure glacier ice, so clear you can see through meters of it. He just cuts the ice cubes with a knife and carves them into instruments. Most of his creations are percussion tools, but he has been known to make an ice guitar, an ice harp, a trumpet and even a fiddle.
While Terje Isungset’s ice music can’t exactly be referred to as radically new (considering man actually started making using with whatever materials nature provided him with), it’s definitely a breath of fresh air, in this modern age.