Swedish musican makes instruments from ice

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Neil McKim

Neil McKim

Neil McKim is production editor of BBC Music Magazine

Neil McKim
, Updated 14th February 2014

An orchestra of ‘ICEstruments’ is making an impact in Lapland

Swedish musican makes instruments from ice
Photo: Karin Aberg

Based in Luleå in northern Sweden, Tim Linhart, an ice artist and musician, has created an orchestra of instruments made from ice. His ‘ICEstruments’ include a violin, viola, cello, double bass, banjo, mandolin, guitar, drums and xylophone.

An igloo ‘ICE Concert Hall’ has been specially constructed to provide good acoustics and it has a ventilation system for removing the warmth generated by the audience of 170 people. This is vitally important because, if the temperature rises above -5 degrees centigrade, there is a risk that the instruments can melt.

Some of the instruments have to be suspended from the ceiling to avoid the body heat of the performers. And even the breath from a musician can cause an instrument to have to be re-tuned after a performance.

The 53-year-old musician, who moved to Sweden 10 years ago, carves the ICEstruments by hand before adding strings and frets. During the performance the instruments are lit-up in spectacular glowing colours which represent the northern lights.

This is not the first time a musician has constructed ice instruments. The Norwegian-based composer Terje Isungset, who records on the ECM label, has enthralled audiences with his bizarre ice instrument inventions.

Photos: Graeme Richardson

Contributor profile

Neil McKim

Neil McKim

Neil McKim is production editor of BBC Music Magazine

Neil McKim