About this project
Thanks so much for taking the time to watch our video and read about this project.
We need your help to solve an invisible problem. It’s difficult to describe the invisible, yet we all experience it everyday through sound. And though the sounds we perceive leave no tangible evidence of their existence, their impact on us can be profound.
Here at the Chrysalis New Music Studio, we’re all about exploring the universe of acoustic music. This involves experiencing sound in all its manifestations, from the most subtle to the most powerful. Our ears are wide open. All you musicians and music lovers know this can be a good thing or a bad thing. That’s why studios for playing and recording music exist: to hear the sounds we want to hear and keep out those we don’t.
If you live in San Francisco, you’ve probably experienced a phenomenon that’s becoming an aggravating presence in all of our lives: noise pollution! Because of the building surge caused by widespread commercial real estate expansion in our city, there’s a construction site on every block. We’ve launched this campaign to raise money to soundproof our studio, currently at the epicenter of San Francisco’s building boom. The noise from construction projects going full blast on all sides has made it impossible to continue working here.
Up ahead, we’ll give you details about the studio, our work, and our accomplishments so you can make an informed decision about whether to support this project. But first…
Who are we?
The Chrysalis Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit arts and education foundation that supports the creation of new acoustic musical instruments. We’ve been around since 1982, and during that time, with help from individuals, granting organizations, and industrial contributors worldwide, we’ve accomplished some amazing things.
Meet Cris Forster, our music director and modern Renaissance man. He’s devoted his life to an intense exploration of acoustic music that includes
- creating original museum quality instruments
- incorporating new scales and tuning systems
- composing a repertoire in just intonation
- inventing new methods to notate scores of this music
- teaching other musicians through internship programs
- writing Musical Mathematics: On the Art and Science of Acoustic Instruments
“Mr. Forster is...like one of those ancient scholars able to seamlessly move from one discipline to another, surprising you at every step for their immeasurable knowledge.” ~Carlo Serafini, Futurist composer, Italy
“Cris is a very serious and conscientious guy who always does the best possible work. His instruments are each gorgeous works of art.” ~Jeff Scott, creator of LMSO Tuning Software
Why new acoustic instruments?
All of these instruments contain groundbreaking acoustical and technological advancements. With their extraordinary timbres and unusual tunings, they provide a new palette of fresh sounds for those who crave the resonance of acoustic music. More about these remarkable creations in a moment, but first, details about our project.
Chrysalis New Music Studio
Here’s our studio, a 2500 square foot building in San Francisco’s SoMa district where all the instruments live. Here’s where Cris composes and trains Chrysalis Ensemble musicians and where we practice, play, perform, and record.
Desperate for some peace and quiet, we called our friend Dan Matarozzi of Matarozzi-Pelsinger Builders. (They did the original renovation of the studio in 2003, transforming it from an old auto garage into a splendid rehearsal, performance, and recording space.) Along with acoustical engineer David Schwind, we came up with a plan to soundproof the studio. The plan entails transforming the back portion of the studio into an “acoustic bunker” by closing it off with a sound barrier wall and acoustically sealed solid wood double doors. It also involves insulating three large skylights that cover a sizeable portion of the ceiling area, primary sources of sound entry. Both the wall and the skylights require specialized construction techniques and materials designed to eliminate transmission of sound.
Schwind quickly generated drawings and music lover Dan Matarozzi gave us a generous 25% discount on all the labor. The final cost for the project is $46,000.
So far, we’ve raised $10,000 from Chrysalis Foundation patrons. We’re reaching out to all of you music lovers and pioneer spirits reading this to help us raise the remaining $36,000.
Why should you support this project?
The Chrysalis New Music Studio is a sanctuary for the composition and development of new acoustic music and an intimate venue where people can gather to hear inspiring performances of groundbreaking works. Need more reasons? Please read on...
Over the course of forty years, with backing from the Chrysalis Foundation, Cris Forster built an ensemble of original musical instruments: Chrysalis I and Chrysalis II, Harmonic/Melodic Canon, Bass Canon, two Diamond Marimbas, Bass Marimba, Glassdance, Just Keys, and Simple Flutes. He also built the String Winder, a machine to make custom wound strings for the Bass Canon.
“I have made the effort to understand music as an art and as a science. The instruments I have built and the music I compose for them are a direct acknowledgment of this two-fold nature of music. It is the fertile space between art and science that gives music an endless richness and variety.” ~Cris Forster
Chrysalis I – First revolving stringed instrument with two facing soundboards that create an inner resonating chamber. Cris recently finished building Chrysalis II, a redesigned and structurally improved version of Chrysalis I. (Click to see a photo journal that includes more than 230 photos and drawings of how he built this instrument.)
Harmonic/Melodic Canon and Bass Canon – The ancient Greeks used an instrument called a kanōn to accurately measure intervals and scales. In the history of music, these are the first canons that satisfy two musical conditions. Both canons have independently movable bridges that produce mathematically predictable ratios; and both canons function as fully resonant performance instruments.
Glassdance – Silently revolving, precisely tuned crystal glasses mounted on a vertical playing surface. The Glassdance makes it easy for a player to reach all the glasses and to excite them instantly into vibration. (Inspired by Ben Franklin’s glass armonica.)
Just Keys – How about a piano not tuned in 12-tone equal temperament? Just Keys fulfills every curious keyboardist’s dreams of direct access to new tunings in just intonation.
“Acoustic music is the most difficult music. Building musical instruments from the ground up is an expression of freedom and, therefore, an expression of imagination.” ~C.F.
For your enjoyment, here are videos of all the instruments in performance.
Some historical background...
Why are acoustic instruments important? And how could any one individual, working independently, do anything of universal significance? Here are some of Cris’ predecessors.
Antonio Stradivari and his violin (circa 1700). The name “Stradivarius” has become a superlative associated with excellence.
Bartolomeo Cristofori and his forte piano (circa 1700). Cristofori worked for the Medici court and produced what’s considered the first piano. What would we do without the piano? One of the Western world's most influential musical instruments, the piano is an essential ingredient in all genres of music.
Adolphe Sax and his saxophone (circa 1840). After its debut performance in 1844, music critics of the time described the saxophone timbre as an absolutely new sound never before heard.
“Absolutely new sounds never before heard” are exactly what Cris Forster has been striving to hear all his life. In addition to the new timbres they produce, his instruments allow us to hear tunings beyond 12-tone equal temperament, the standard tuning system of all Western music. For well over two hundred and fifty years, 12-TET has dominated the tuning arena. All the Chrysalis Ensemble instruments are tuned in Just Intonation.
“Experiencing new tunings is the principal reason why I build musical instruments. Scales and tunings cannot be intelligently discussed without numbers. So, without mathematics there will never be advancements on the subject of tuning, no matter how noble the aspirations to evoke change.” ~C.F.
“Now Cris Forster has cracked the code, and reveals with uncanny scientific accuracy the principles behind instrument design, the vibrations of strings, bars and tubes and the very scales they produce.” ~John Schneider, Ph.D., Director of MicroFest, L.A.
Here at the Chrysalis Foundation, we think that the future of music depends on developing and implementing a new musical vocabulary. We’re striving to raise the standard for the study of acoustic music, and to challenge all those who care about this discipline to a more thorough and rigorous investigation into what it means to make music.
“Nothing in the arts and sciences gets easier in time.” ~C.F.
Articles about Cris have appeared in numerous publications, including Life Magazine, Omni Magazine, and The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments. More recent articles about Cris and the Chrysalis Foundation are featured in the July 2013 issue of San Francisco Classical Voice and the January 2016 edition of PTC Mathcad Product Lifecycle Report.
With the help of private donors and granting organizations such as the Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund and San Francisco Grants for the Arts, we continue to host public educational events, sponsor internship programs for musicians, promote live performances of new music, and open our facilities to other musicians for performing and recording.
“I still remember us coming home from the Chrysalis concert…a couple of years ago and remarking how very, very glad we are that people like you are on this Earth.” ~Victoria Neve, DMA, Classical Piano Professor, San Francisco State University
Our goal is to encourage the development of acoustic music and to leave behind resources so that future generations can continue the evolution. One of our most powerful educational tools is Cris Forster’s book Musical Mathematics: On the Art and Science of Acoustic Instruments. Published by Chronicle Books in 2010, this book teaches musicians how to manipulate the raw materials of music making for their own creative ends. Musical Mathematics is currently available in more than 130 libraries, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The British Library, Juilliard, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, five U.C. campuses, and many others. See M.M. Reviews to read seven extensive online reviews of Musical Mathematics from various professionals in the field. Publication of this book represents a major fulfillment of the Foundation’s educational goals. It is now circulating in the world with the power to enlighten, influence, and invigorate the development of acoustic music.
“For many years people have asked me if I know of a single excellent reference that will orient them in all this tuning stuff. There hasn’t before really been a single book that contained a real breadth of coverage, and much of the most interesting material, particularly regarding ethnomusicology, was buried in obscure out of print publications or extremely expensive references. Finally I have a single book I can unequivocally recommend. Whew. Thank goodness. At last.” ~Jeff Scott, Microtonal tuning software guru
“[Musical Mathematics] offers sophisticated and exactly practical answers to anyone daring to pick up a piece of wood or wire and ask those materials to make music. This is surely the guidebook for 21st century music making, and as such, belongs in every library.” ~John Schneider, host of the KPFK weekly radio program “Global Village”
When Cristofori was retained in 1688 by Prince Ferdinando de Medici of Tuscany as curator of the royal instruments, he was sent to work in a huge general workshop. He’s reported to have said,
“It was hard for me to have to go into the big room with all that noise.”
The Prince soon saw to it that Cristofori had a quiet building all to himself.
Enormously wealthy royal families supported the Renaissance. Court patronage insured that the arts thrived and artists survived.
What those artists left behind is now our collective cultural heritage.
* * *
Will you support a musical Renaissance for the 21st century?
Let’s make history!
Our deepest gratitude goes to Rob Thomas of SponsoredFilms.com for creating the superlative video for this campaign. Thank you, Rob!
Risks and challenges
We’re confident that we’ll successfully complete this project. Soundproofing is mandatory in order for us to continue using the studio for composing, practicing, and performing new acoustic music. We’re committed to doing everything in our power to save the studio.
Here are some reasons we’ll succeed:
(1) Our incredibly altruistic contractor has granted us an indefinite extension to complete payment for the work.
(2) Many of our most loyal patrons have pledged to make personal donations and to help us raise the remaining funds.
(3) Additional funding from generous supporters of this Kickstarter campaign will put us over the top.
Once again, heartfelt thanks to you for supporting this project. The repercussions of your generosity will vibrate into the future.
Together, we’ll keep acoustic music alive and growing!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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