TheoryBoard is a music theory MIDI controller that could change the way you write songs

We first covered the TheoryBoard - a ‘music theory MIDI controller’ - when it was crowdfunded in 2017, and now it’s back on Kickstarter in a new and improved form. 

Promising to simplify the concepts of music theory so that anyone can make music, this offers what’s said to be an intuitive pad layout so that you can play without going ‘wrong’. Everything is kept in key if you want it to be, and there are plenty of advanced features to explore, too.

You’ll note that there are two sets of pads; chords are triggered using the section to the left, and notes are played on the right. Because the pads are also colour-coded, you can see the relationship between the chords and the notes.

On the chord side, groups of chords that share a root note have the same colour, with the chords getting progressively more complex as you move through the group. What’s more, when a chord is pressed, the Live Note Update feature means that the designated area on the right-hand side updates with four octaves’ worth of the single notes from that chord, so you can easily play melodies without having to reposition your hand.

The designers say that the inspiration for this playing style came from the guitar. You can choose to have the chord play or mute it so that all you’re doing is sending information to the Live Note Update section.

As well as the two panels of buttons, there’s also the Chord Control Panel. This gives you in-depth control of your chords, enabling you to raise, lower or stack octaves, create spread chords and adjust voicings. There’s a touchscreen here to make things easier, and we’re told that you have access to more than 1.9 billion possible chord combinations.

There are also hot keys for direct modulation and modal interchange, making it easy to use more advanced music theory concepts in your compositions.

Compatible with any MIDI device, the TheoryBoard has already broken through its funding target and the $499 super early bird and $599 early bird pledges are selling out fast (RRP will be $1199, apparently). Find out more on the Kickstarter page.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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