New music for new instruments


To compose for instruments of ice requires a large dose of intuition and a pinch of craziness. How will these instruments possibly sound? One has to guess: most likely softer och probably not so expressive as a traditional instrument. The lowest register of cello and double bass are certainly not as sonorous and dark.


What must be taken into consideration due to the constant chill of the concert hall? To avoid quick passages since the musician’s hands will become easily cold. Not to write too long a piece lest the musician’s backside freezes to the icy stool. How can an ice flute work as it is filled with the warm breath of the flutist? Best to compose few, well-chosen and sparse notes, so that the instrument will not melt irreparably during performance. And, what about the percussion? Which instruments can be constructed? With warm wishes and few instructions I leave it to the musician to form his part when we have seen and heard the actual instrument.


This was my approach to the composition of Ice Music Fantasy for singer, recitation and ice instruments (flute, percussion, 2 celli and double bass). The vocalist sings words beginning with ice: ice music, ice dream, ice bird, ice blue, etc. The speaker whispers geographic names of places about the North Pole, beginning with Nuuk on Greenland, proceeding west and ending in Tromsö och Spetsbergen in Norway. On occasion the music is interrupted by the words “Silence … Snow …”


Karin Rehnqvist, March 2003

The texts:


ice music, ice dream, a nice dream,

ice bird, ice blue, a frozen and stony ice toe

ice in the rise of the sun


a dream, a seam, a seal, a bee

a blink, a drink, a chest, ice free!


A seal, a dream of light


(Karin Rehnqvist)


The speaker:

Nuuk, Iqaluit, Baffin Island, Sommerset Island, Lancaster Sound, Foxe Basin, Resolute, Bathurst Island, Ellef Ringnes, Devon Island Spence Bay, Gjoa Haven, Coppermine, Tuktoyaktuk

Tystnad! Snö…

Chakotka, Pevek, Cherskij, Tiksi, Taymyr, Dickson, Gyda, Yamal, Novaya Zemlya, Kanin, Archangelsk, Belomorsk, Kola, Murmansk, Nordkap, Tromsö, Spetsbergen

Tystnad! Snö….

Read more at The Ice Cubicle

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