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You know that machine that drives around ice rinks? Somerset House found a musical use for it

Chris Waywell

Everyone likes a tune when they’re skating, but Somerset House has gone one better this year, and commissioned a special piece of music for when you can’t be on the rink.

We've all seen that machine that comes on to the ice every so often, usually driven by a very self-conscious bloke in a beanie hat. It’s called a Zamboni, and it resurfaces the rink to get rid of gashes/potholes/tripping hazards. Which is great. Trouble is, Signor Zamboni takes 15 minutes to complete his icy ministrations, during which time no one can skate.

Then one of Somerset House’s learning team, George Collum, made the conceptual leap that this enforced downtime could be used for something, and suggested that a piece of music could accompany the Zamboni every time it did its stuff.

Luckily, Somerset House Studios are stuffed with musicians and artists, so Anna Meredith and Music Hackspace were on hand, and ‘Sarabande for Zamboni’ was born. Using tracking software, the piece responds to the path of the Zamboni across the rink, so it will be different every time, and even reflect the state of the ice.

I heard it on launch night: it’s a pulsing, Dan Deacon-esque bit of electronica, and turns the Skate rink into an ethereal EDM space for a quarter of an hour. Basically, if it had been in that Ragnar Kjartansson show last year, it would have been your favourite piece.

Find out more about Anna Meredith's musical installation here

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