Terje Isungset

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Terje Isungset
Terje Isungset. Photo by Knut Bry (cropped).jpg
Background information
Born (1964-05-04) 4 May 1964 (age 57)
Hol, Norway
GenresJazz, Nordic folk

Terje Isungset (born May 4, 1964) is a Norwegian drummer. From his background in jazz and traditional Scandinavian music, he has designed musical instruments from non-traditional materials, including ice.[1][2][3]


Isungset with Agbaland at Nattjazz, May 30, 2015
Isungset and Arve Henriksen performing glass music at Victoria, 2015
Isungset with glass drums at Victoria, December 2015
Isungset with glass instruments at Victoria, December 2015

Isungset was raised in Geilo where he played traditional dance music with his father (accordion) during his high school days. Moving to Bergen in 1984 led him to be a popular member of a number of Bergen groups, such as Ictus and Tordenskjolds soldater (1984–85), Growl and Gruv (1984-88), Saksbehandlerne and Night and Day (1985–86), Salsa Pati (1985–87), and Supply (1985–88), in addition to periods within the Big Band Emanon from 1986, and his recording debut Amalgamation (1985) with Kenneth Sivertsen.[2]

Isungset is, after more than two decades on the jazz scene, one of Europe's most accomplished and innovative percussionists. With more than 25 years experience in jazz and Scandinavian traditional music he raises these narrow forms of music far beyond their traditional boundaries, becoming more like a crossover between a sound artist and a shaman. When crafting his own instruments from Norwegian natural elements such as arctic birch, granite, slate, sheep bells and even ice, he is highly recommended to those sensible to the poetry and simplicity of sounds.[3][4]

His work is highly acclaimed in the press, often described as innovative, visual, energetic, and different from any previously known concepts. His love for ice music was raised in 1999 when the commission of the winterfestival at Lillehammer asked him to compose and play in a frozen waterfall.[5] He has invented the concept of icemusic, and also invented a way to perform icemusic indoor in ordinary concert halls, doing around 50 indoor ice concerts every year. CNN calls Isungset the first and only icemusician in the world.[6]

Isungset has been commissioned to compose music for jazz festivals, dance performances, theatre, and film, with 41 commissioned concerts.[3]

He has released ten solo albums and is now doing most of his work internationally. Solo concerts, with his band or in collaboration with other artists. In 2006 he had the idea of creating an icemusic festival and started the Ice Music Festival at Geilo, Norway organized by Pål Knutsson Medhus. He is also the founding manager of the record label All Ice Records.

His most recent project is the Glassmusic[7] together with Arve Henriksen. They released an album named World of Glass in late 2014. The recordings were largely made in front of a live audience in Tallinn. All the instruments were made from glass by students from the Estonian Academy of Arts.[8][9]

He is a member of the bandsGroupa (Sweden), Utla and Isglem. He has ongoing duos with Per Jørgensen, Arve Henriksen, Sissel Vera Pettersen, Didier Petit, Therese Skauge, Jorma Tapio and Stian Westerhus.

For the 2017 Vossajazz festival,[10] Isungset was commissioned to compose new music for a new band.

Isungset is also an associate professor at the Grieg Academy, University of Bergen.



  • 2010: Organic expressions, project with three dancers (Rebecca Hytting, Guro Rimeslåtten, Christine Kjellberg) from the Carte Blanche Dance Company
  • 2012: Isslottet, at the Oslo Opera and Ballet


Solo albums[edit]

Collaborative works[edit]

With Kenneth Sivertsen
Within Karl Seglem's Sogn-A-Song
Within Isglem (duo with Karl Seglem)
  • 1991: Rom (NorCD)
  • 1992: To Steg (NorCD)
  • 1996: Null G (NorCD)
  • 2003: Fire (NorCD)
  • 2016: "Femte" (NorCD)
Within Orleysa, fest. Tore Brunborg
  • 1991: Orleysa (Odin Records)
  • 1993: Svanshornet (Odin Records)
Within Utla (including Håkon Høgemo and Karl Seglem)
  • 1992: Utla (NorCD)
  • 1993: Juv (NorCD)
  • 1995: Brodd (NorCD)
  • 1999: Dans (NorCD)
  • 2003: Song (NorCD), feat. Berit Opheim Versto
Within Groupa (including Jonas Simonson and Mats Edén)
  • 1999: Lavalek (Xource)
  • 2008: Frost (Footprint)
  • 2014: Silent Folk (Footprint)
  • 2016: "Kind of folk,vol1. Sweden. (All Ice Records)
With others


  1. ^ "Biography". Isung.no. Retrieved 2020-04-08. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b "Isungset, Terje - Biography" (in Norwegian). Norsk Musikkinformasjon MIC.no. 2011-03-21. Retrieved 2012-12-09. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b c "Terje Isungset Drummer, Composer - Directory". MIC.no. Retrieved 2012-12-09. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "The music that melted". BBC Radio 4. 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2012-12-09. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Eikeland, Else Berit (January 2012). "The coolest music on earth" (PDF). Norwegian Embassy. Retrieved 2012-12-09. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Chilling out with the world's only ice musician". Cnn.com. Retrieved 2020-04-08. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Glassmusic Homepage". Glassmusic Project. Archived from the original on 4 January 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Terje Isungset and Arve Henriksen - World of Glass (All Ice Records 1409. CD Review by Peter Jones)". London Jazz News. 30 December 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Madli-Liis Parts' video of World of Glass / Tallinn 2011". Madli-Liis Parts. Retrieved 8 January 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Terje Isungset – "Sildrande"". Vossajazz.no. Retrieved 2020-04-08. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Subscribe to read | Financial Times". Ft.com. Retrieved 2020-04-08. Cite uses generic title (help)CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ Talkington, Fiona (2003-03-05). "Terje Isungset Iceman Is Review". BBC Music. Retrieved 2012-12-09. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Harald Dahlstrøm
Recipient of the Vossajazzprisen
Succeeded by
Frank Jakobsen
Preceded by
Gisle Kverndokk
Recipient of the Open class Edvardprisen
Succeeded by
Alfred Janson