Ep. 91: What music do the sounds of ice and glaciers make? With Charles Van Kirk

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash


April 20, 2021

A sonic exploration of the Vatnajökull Glacier in Iceland resulted in a collection of glacial found sounds. These captured sounds were then used to create a musical tribute to glaciers, and have also been made available to others to use. Sonic explorer, composer, and audio engineer Charles Van Kirk says, “There is a huge sense of urgency to make some kind of artistic tribute to these glaciers, now before they totally recede away.”

Charles Van Kirk


Today is April 20, and this week we celebrate Earth Day. My guest today has traveled to Iceland, to the largest glacier in Europe, and used the various sounds of the glacier to compose a musical tribute to them. Charles Van Kirk is a graduate of Berklee College of Music. He’s joining me today from Maine, where he is an audio engineer and composer. Charles’ award-winning work has been featured on numerous media outlets, including ABC and WNYC; and has been used in advertising content produced for National Geographic, The United Nations, Google, and Nike, among others.


  • I love the opening sentence on Charles’ website “About” page: “My job is to tell stories with sound.” Charles explains how he ended up telling the story of glaciers through their sounds and music.
  • Charles describes his Jan 2020 trip to the Vatnajökull Glacier in Iceland, capturing the glacier’s sounds, and creating music with the sounds.
  • Capturing these found sounds creates a “Beautiful snapshot of a moment in time.” Charles notes that the glaciers may never sound exactly the same as they do now.

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In Episode Promo

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Charles shares the song he composed as a tribute to glaciers, using almost exclusively found sounds from his trip to the the Vatnajökull Glacier. 

Closing Words

Thank you so much to Charles for sharing this experience and musical tribute with us today.  You can download and use these ice and glacier sounds  from Charles’ sonic exploration. They are on Splice’s website.

I would love to hear from you! You can connect with me on Facebook & Instagram @EnhanceLifeMusic; I’m also on Twitter (@musicenhances) and LinkedIn. Thank you so much for joining me today, and for sharing the show with your friends and family. Until next week, may your life be enhanced with music.

View episode transcription.


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