Chromawheel – An Instrument That Helps You Visualize And Interact With Music Theory

The Chromawheel is a unique instrument & MIDI controller that helps you understand and visualize music theory in a tactile way.

Created by Soapbox Music co-founders Farsheed Hamidi-Toosi and Brendan Finucane, the Chromawheel lets you build and play scales or chord patterns using ‘puzzle pieces’. You can rotate patterns, transposing them to new keys. And with the chord buttons, you can play complex chords by holding chord buttons and then playing the root note. 

“Our goal is to design & manufacture an instrument that simplifies musical concepts, thus lowering the barrier of entry to learning and creating music for everyone,” the developers note. “We are still in the prototype stage but are planning to do a first production run soon.”

Details are available at the Chromawheel site.

30 thoughts on “Chromawheel – An Instrument That Helps You Visualize And Interact With Music Theory

  1. I have this crazy contraption that does the same thing. There are a bunch of keys, black ones and white ones and the ones on the left make deep low notes and the ones on the right make high pitched sounds.

    1. Any time you see a new idea you can be sure that someone will come along to sneer at it and declare it unnecessary because other ways to make music already exist.

      1. Exactly.

        Luddites never understand anything new, while people with open minds ask “How could I best use this?”

        That’s how DJ Pierre transformed the TB-303 from a complete commercial failure into one of the most sought-after pieces of gear ever – he figured out how to use it in an interesting way.

        This isn’t going to be better at a keyboard for keyboard music – but might be really interesting for other types of things.

          1. Given the recent explosion of grid sequencers and modular, it’s probably safe to guess that the piano keyboard will be less common in the future.

            1. and music will suffer for it because nobody will learn how to compose. they’ll just poke at buttons until something sounds oaky but they won’t have any idea of what they are actually doing. If the future is grid sequencers repeating 16 steps over and over while somebody claims they have a skill at turning the cutoff frequency, then you have no idea what music is and the future of the art of actually composing is dead.

              1. i really don’t get it. somebody offers a beautiful educational tool to help people learn music theory – and readers STILL complain nobody wants to learn to compose. seriously wtf. how exactly do you want people to learn composition?

    1. By visualizing it as a circle, all the relationships between notes are consistent from key to key, and cyclical.

      Cool – but more as a theory/educational tool than for performance.

    2. Hi Yap, as AnalOG commented it is possible to show all scales and chords in any key. We are working on a Chromawheel Visual Guide to demonstrate & explain different patterns and shapes.

        1. The visual guide is not required, but we’ve found people learn in lots of different ways. Some folks may not need or want a guide to explore and experiment with different musical concepts, but other people do like more guidance. Our approach is akin to how a “field guide” works to helps identify things in the wild — we show various snapshots of different patterns, what they are commonly called, and how they might relate to other patterns.

  2. …or people could not be lazy and just learn the basic music theory. It isn’t hard, it doesn’t take long.

    Of course, this type of thing is for people who aren’t serious anyway, so let them waste their money as they will *shrugs*

    1. “…or people could not be lazy and just learn the basic music theory. It isn’t hard, it doesn’t take long.”

      You’re confusing muscle memory with music theory.

    1. It’s a momentum’s effort , but honestly?
      A keyboard with the interactive circle of fifths online will provide more long term I feel or even komplete kontrol lights edition – it’s cool though

      1. except for performance—-what is the advantage of a keyboard over this ??
        if one is simply interested in learning music theory, and not traditional instrumental performance, this may be a more intuitive approach.

  3. I love it! Any new way to interact with music theory and connect the synapses from different directions is a good thing. Good looking too!

  4. This is a really nifty approach to handling chords and notes. And as several others said is definitely beautiful in that wood. I wish them the best of luck for coming up with this cool design….

  5. Only those who lack heart could take pleasure in criticising this and the creators. This is a thing of beauty and a different take on formulas. The cynics were not the target market anyway!

  6. Lovely work.. I am obsessed with non kerbed controllers as each one let’s me interact with sound in a different way. Well done

  7. Do you people complain over at the Stanley Tools forum when a new variety of hammer or screwdriver is introduced? Do you go on to say “now no one will learn the fundamentals of hammering nails?”

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