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Tim Linhart Ice Instruments

Tim Linhart and Ice Music

Tim Linhart and Ice Music

Winter is here in full force, and although most people associate the coldest time of the year with darkness and gloom, we thought it would be nice to write about a man who has taken the ice and snow and made it into something magical and awe-inspiring.
Tim Linhart Ice Music concert

Tim Linhart is a sculptor, orginially from New Mexico, who has been working with ice for about 35 years. Linhart says he came up with the idea for ice instruments while hanging out with a friend of his who built guitars. The first ice instrument Linhart created was something similar to a double bass on which he used the bass strings of a piano. He says he was so overjoyed by the sound that came out of it, that he jumped on his skis and skied all the way down into town to tell folks about what he had made.

The string instruments Linhart makes are hollow, just like a normal violin, bass, or guitar would be, but instead of using glue he binds everything by applying water and then freezing it. Surprisingly his instruments can be produced in a very short amount of time. The front and back plates to a double bass can be carved in a number of hours. The tools Linhart uses are just like ones used to make wooden instruments except that wood can only be carved, but with ice you can also build on it by adding to it.

Linhart prefers to work mainly with "white ice" which is a blend of snow and water that produces a beautiful pearlescent finish, but he also uses pure frozen water which is clear and transparent. In addition to string instruments he also makes xylophones, drum kits, organs, and other instruments that he himself has invented.

About 15 years ago Linhart was invited to take part in doing ice sculpture for one of the famous "Ice Hotels" in Lulea Sweden. While in Sweden he met his wife, Birgitta, and has since relocated there. Linhart felt he needed to construct a special concert hall in which to hold his ice music concerts; one that would help prevent the instruments from melting during performances. Lulea proved the be the perfect place to do so. The town is just south of the arctic circle and the winter temperatures are often way below freezing. Linhart constructed his own concert hall in the form of an igloo that seats 170 people. The igloo is kept at 23 degrees fahrenheit with a chimney at the center of the hall. The chimney allows body heat to be released from it, preventing the ice instruments from melting.

Concerts are usually held at the hall from January through March and include all genres of music. Linhart often embeds colored LED lights inside of the instruments so the performances are a treat for the eyes as well as the ears.

This year during January and February Linhart will be traveling to the Italian Alps. There he will build cellos which he will be taking on tour for concerts in Trento, Venice, Rome and Palermo. Linhart says that this will be the first time they will be performing in artificial conditions and it will require the use of freezer units, ventilation systems and inflatable plastic bubbles. 

Click on the link below if you are interested in reading more about Tim Linhart and "Ice Music."

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