LB°13 Artists


Ragnhild May

The Flute Player, Ragnhild May. Luleåbiennalen 2013.

Ragnhild May (b. 1988, Denmark), is an artist and musician based in Denmark.

The Flute Player is a monstrosity consisting of 131 recorder flutes played automatically by vacuum cleaners and electrical air pumps. It plays two very high frequent tones which produce a so-called “difference tone”, a psycho-acoustic phenomenon, perceived as an additional deep tone when two high-pitched tones are played simultaneously on a high volume. The phenomenon was discovered by Giuseppe Tartini, the composer of Devil’s Trill Sonata, a solo inspired by a dream in which the devil taught him to play the violin. The recorder has a long cultural history as being the instrument of the jester and was banned from churches in medieval times. In 1492, the pope declared that “All who play the fistula [a one hand recorder flute] end up in hell”. In around 1600, the recorder flute gained popularity, but by the 1800s, flute-makers stopped producing recorders and the instrument was almost forgotten. It was rediscovered in the 1900s by enthusiasts of early music and went on to become a popular school/toy instrument.

Ragnhild May is a Danish artist and musician, working and experimenting primarily with sound, installation and performance. In her art, she combines her interest in both music and sculpture. Since 2011, she has been conducting musical performances with self-made instruments. Ragnhild May completed a BA in Art while in Denmark and continues her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts (Akademie der Bildenden Künste), Vienna.


The Flute Player, installation