The TheoryBoard is a MIDI controller with two purposes: to teach you some music theory and to help you compose and produce music. Its unique notes versus chords setup makes it easy to play only the “correct” notes, even if you don’t have much experience.
A quick note about Kickstarter Projects: Kicstarters always come with the potential that you may not get the exact product you ordered or any product at all. This team does have a known history and delivered its last product (albeit somewhat late), but that doesn’t guarantee it will deliver the TheoryBoard. Back at your own risk
Sure, you can learn music theory the old fashioned way, by sitting through formal classes or pouring over textbooks and exercises, but not everyone vibes with that learning style. If you’re more of a hands-on learner, this is a spectacular tool. It’s also easy enough for kids to use.
The MIDI controller has three distinct sections: a 4×12 set of pads on the right side dedicated every note in a particular scale, another 4×12 set of pads on the left side with every chord in a key, and a control panel touchscreen in the center where you can change keys, octaves, and modes, and adjust settings. All 96 pads are velocity-sensitive and brightly color-coded to a specific note.
The convenient thing about the TheoryBoard is that you can also use it to create music without much knowledge of composition and theory. So in practice, if you’re wanting to record the melody for a song, just choose your key and “locks in” all the notes and chords for that specific key.
What that really means is that this setup prevents you from ever playing a single out-of-tune note. There are also plenty of hotkeys up top so you can change keys or modes quickly, and the controller supports both USB MIDI and TRS MIDI and works with any DAW and any device.
Although the device won’t offer a well-rounded music theory education like a class or textbook would, it’s still an excellent resource. The only real downside to the TheoryBoard is its extremely steep price tag. Its expected retail price is $1,199, though on Kickstarter there is an Earlybird pledge price of $599, a 50% discount. The MIDI controller’s estimated delivery date is in December.