photo of Keyed Kontraptions


Keyed Kontraptions is the San Francisco Bay Area duo of Meerenai Shim on Contrabass Flute and Kris King on Contraforte. The duo collaborates with living composers to expand the repertoire for these two instruments that possess great character, yet are largely underrepresented. 

Kris King is an advocate of the Contraforte, which is a newly created instrument beginning to replace the contrabassoon. Compared to the contrabassoon, the contraforte has an extended range, extended dynamic range, refined mechanism, darker tone, and stable intonation; it is being utilized in orchestras throughout Europe, Asia, and Australia. So far there are 4 in the United States and Kris has the only one on the West Coast. Kris feels that generating repertoire for this new instrument will have a positive impact on the instrument’s future. In addition to Keyed Kontraptions, Kris performs with the chamber ensembles Nomad Sessions, and the Elevate Ensemble, as well as many of the orchestras throughout California. He holds degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he studied with with Steve Paulson and Steve Braunstein. Kris is the owner and operator of King Bassoon Reeds.

Until about ten years ago, very little chamber music was written for contrabass. Meerenai Shim has helped commission numerous chamber music works for contrabass flute through her work with her other group, A/B Duo, as well as with Keyed Kontraptions. When she’s not performing with Keyed Kontraptions or A/B Duo, she can be heard performing with Areon Flutes or in one of her many solo projects. She has released three solo albums of newly commissioned flute music. Meerenai is also the founder of Areocade Music, a record label representing the experimental, electronic, and contemporary classical artists on the West Coast.

The Contraforte uses a double reed, like the bassoon and contrabassoon to create its sound. This creates a reedy quality to the tone, especially at heavier dynamics. This is a newly conceived instrument which was originally produced to improve upon the shortcomings of the contrabassoon. It combines the character of the low woodwinds with the lyric voice of the cello. Contraforte is an octave displaced instrument, so the sounding pitch is an octave below written.

The contrabass flute is a lot like the others in the flute family except that it requires even more air than the others. Sounding one octave below the bass flute, it has about the same range as the cello. Like other flutes, the high register shines and can easily heard while the low register can be very quiet and expressive or explosive in short bursts. It is always amplified when used in the Keyed Kontraptions ensemble. 



Download high resolution images here.



Concert: Music at Noon at Santa Clara University – February 20, 2019
We will be performing on the Music at Noon series at Santa Clara University! 

Not So Gentle Giants: Music for Contrabass Flute and Contraforte

12PM, Santa Clara University Music Recital Hall

Free and open to the public! More info


Concert: Oh My Ears New Music Festival – February 3, 2019
We will be performing on DAY 4 of the FOUR DAY New Music Festival in Phoenix! 

CONCERT 2 at 4pm, Megaphone, 725 W. Indian School Road, PHX.


Facebook event page.


Concert: Recital at Cal Poly Pomona – February 1, 2019
We will be performing works written for us by Isaac Schankler, Lily Chen, and Emily Koh!

12PM, Cal Poly Pomona Music Recital Hall

Free and open to the public. Parking permit required. Find directions for driving, parking, and walking online at 

Facebook event page.


Concert: A Keyed Kontraptions Christmas (Live Stream) – December 3, 2018
It's time again for A Keyed Kontraptions Christmas Concert! This year we will be starting the holidays a little early, on Monday, December 3rd. This is a live streamed concert starting at 2PM Pacific.

This concert will feature Jon Szin, our special guest on bass clarinet!

We'll play some holiday tunes and more including:
The Beethoven ... Trio
Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Mirlitons
Bach Toccata and Fugue 

Tune in to our Facebook Page on Monday, December 3, 2018 at 2pm Pacific! 


Concert: San Francisco, CA – October 13, 2018
We will be premiering a new piece we commissioned from Emily Koh!

Saturday, October 13, 2018
Center for New Music (55 Taylor St. San Francisco, CA 94102)


Concert: San Francisco, CA – April 7, 2018
Guerrilla Composers Guild presents: Keyed Kontraptions

7:30PM - Saturday, April 7, 2018

Seventh Avenue Performances
Seventh Avenue Presbyterian Church
1329 Seventh Avenue
San Francisco, California 94122


Concert: Live Streamed Invisible Rail Concert Series – December 12, 2017
Keyed Kontraptions will perform on the Invisible Rail online concert series of contemporary classical music created by R. Andrew Lee

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at 2pm Pacific!


keyedkontraptions {at} gmail {dot} com

Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram!