TheoryBoard Thy333 MIDI Controller Puts 1.9 Billion Chords At Your Fingertips

Irijule has launched a Kickstarter project to fund the TheoryBoard Thy333, an updated version of their unique TheoryBoard MIDI controller.

It’s designed to be used to control hardware synths and software synths running on your computer or mobile device. And it offers expressive capabilities, like velocity-sensitive keys and polyphonic aftertouch.

But the unique feature of the TheoryBoard is that it’s a MIDI controller focused on demystifying music theory. The controller features a grid of square keys, where notes and scales are laid out in consistent patterns to make it easier to understand their relationships.

But while the TheoryBoard is designed to make musical relationships easy to see and play with, it also has a lot of features tailored to people that know some music theory.

Here’s a video demo that explores both how the TheoryBoard can be used to make playing patterns easier and how it allows you to explore transforming progressions through modes and modulations:


  • 840 Chromatic and Diatonic Scales, Chords + Melody
  • 1,981,808,640 Possible Chord Combinations via the Theory Engine (Patent)
  • 96 Velocity Sensitive Keys with Polyphonic Aftertouch
  • 24 Hot Swap Keys for on-the-fly Direct Modulation & Modal Interchange scale switching
  • 96 RGB LEDs provide visual link between chord side and melody side
  • Touch Screen Display with OLED Screen
  • On-the-fly Chord Augmentation (Spread, Voicing, Octave)
  • Octave Stacking Technology
  • Pentatonic Scale Systems•Guitar Voicing Feature
  • Live Note Update Function
  • Ports: USB MIDI, TRS-A MIDI Out, TRS Sustain In, 5V Power In
  • Compatible with computers, synthesizers, and mobile devices

Pricing and Availability

Production of the TheoryBoard Thy333 is being funded via a Kickstarter project, and backers can pre-order the controller starting at $499 USD.

29 thoughts on “TheoryBoard Thy333 MIDI Controller Puts 1.9 Billion Chords At Your Fingertips

    1. Literally everything I’ve ever backed on Kickstarter has arrived (38 projects).

      Moreover, this product has already been on Kickstarter once before and this is the second iteration. I am the happy owner of the first one and would highly recommend it to others. The team kept all the backers updated with progress, added features, and generally ran a good campaign, if a little behind schedule.

      See here for the original campaign for information:

  1. I got my Meeblip and Tasty Chips GR-1 from kickstarter. You should change that to “Never back Kickstarters. They come out at the speed of pre-orders at your well-known online stores”.

    1. Kickstarter is great, You can get costumer for the first batch with just a video and some nice words about risks. If you didn’t made the goal, you can invest your own money under other name, friends, family and so on… As a manufacture you can’t loose. If you already made it you just get tons of new clients for the first batch.
      In the past if you invest in something you receive a percentage of the income, now you can invest and maybe get a shirt.
      amazing times…

  2. Kickstarter anxiety here too, but this does look very well designed and fun to play as an instrument. Here it’s the concept that’s original rather than relying on some untested technology, so that’s cause for optimism.

  3. Interesting controller. I would not buy it because the LED’s look to bright for me, when they bring out a version that is like the MPC (black on top) or make it dim down a lot i would consider it.

  4. We often see new designs with hyperbolic claims, but the manufacture may or may not deliver on those claims. We can list very cool products and their strengths and weaknesses. With regard to the actual structure and chords, and general theory behind them, this product seems pretty much on point. The ideas seem well-developed and the implementation seems clever and usable.

    If I were to find any flaw with the implementation, it would just be that the theory itself can be limiting. But because they took it into some advanced territory, they may have mitigated that concern. For example, it was impressive to see the modal borrowing included. That’s such a wonderful compositional tool! Think of the kinds of beautiful chords you get from the harmonic minor scale, that’s just one example of “modal borrowing” (in that case, borrowing the V chord from the parallel Ionian mode, and transplanting it in the Aeolian mode).

    There are some “classical” theoretical definitions that are not really true in practice. Most musicians understand that a chord only requires 2 notes (not three). And in the right context, a single note can define a chord almost as clearly as “3 or more”.

    Triads are but one type of chord shape/structure, and there are lots of other structures like stacked 4ths, or other more irregular shapes, etc. that give you interesting and usable sounds.

    I submitted a comprehensive chord list to one developer and his response surprised and disappointed me. “Most of these aren’t chords.” In his defense, he was coming from a jazz paradigm, where if you can’t name it, it doesn’t exist. Another developer received my list with enthusiasm and implemented it into the product.

    One would hope that this device allows for extensive user scales & chords/voicings.

    As for the hardware, the inclusion of velocity and poly-AT — if engineered in a way that is consistent and responsive– makes this inviting for general controller use. A combination of this controller with a breath controller would be “killer” as the kidz used to say 40 years ago.

    I agree that there is elevated risk, but that is the nature of a product like this. And major manufacturers don’t innovate for this very reason. They churn out safe product after safe boring product (with occasional exceptions). Being able to gauge how many orders you need to break even and get commitments is a reasonable business approach. And no one should sign on if they can’t afford the risk.

  5. Guys – it’s already been released. They are just doing a revised version with a new Kickstarter campaign. I’m having a Theoryboard next to me.

  6. I call bs on the number of chords. There are only 2^12 = 4096 chords possible ignoring of course transposition, octave doubling etc.

  7. I call bs on the number of chords. There are only 2^12 = 4096 chords possible with 12-tet ignoring of course transposition, octave doubling etc.

    1. I think that is an error with the Synthtopia headline. The product says “Possible chord combinations”– which is a different kind of math.

      To many musicians who are content to keep reusing the same two or three chords and tired progressions– even when they are making enjoyable music– the idea of expanding your chord progressions from a dozen choices to a million choices is a clever approach. It targets their market.

      That said, I think it is still something of a b.s. claim– in a way.

  8. How many of those 1.9 billion chords do you even need, though?

    That’s like synthesizers being advertised as shipping with thousands of presets.

    1. ** futuristic hologram projector not included. See docs.

      Yea, lots of manufacturers need to include those kinds of disclaimers.

      1. it was cool, too cool, and is fairly obvious from the get go that it’s not there, but I agree, it caught my eye at least as much as the real product. It should be noted in every video that it is ‘for illustrative purposes only’ and not part of the proposed product.

  9. Checking the math here. Combinations are not calculated by exponents, they are done by factorials. The total number of combinations for n items taken k at a time is C(n,k) = n!/[k!(n-k)!]. I built a little table in excel looking at all combinations of 2 or more notes. If we count only the 12 tone scale, there are 4083 possible chords (including exactly 1 dissonant tone cluster of all 12 notes). If we count all 88 notes on a piano, building chords of up to 6 notes at a time give you ~0.6 billion total. Up to 7 notes and you have 6.9 billion. I have 10 fingers but most of those combinations I cannot play with two hands because my fingers aren’t long enough. Fun stuff.

    1. the thinking behind using the exponent is that the same tone in different octaves is generally not considered a different tone. hence in any 12-tone scale a note can be present or not, giving 2^12 combinations. i wonder which are the 15 combinations not taken into account in your calculation?

      1. Southpole, we are counting different sets. 2^12 is the total number of 12-character combinations from a 2 character alphabet. It is not the sum of all distinct 2, 3, 4, 5, 6… combinations from a 12 character alphabet. To show by example, let’s consider a scale with only 4 notes. Here are the 2-note combinations: AB, AC, AD, BC, BD, CD. There are 6 combinations taken 2 at a time: 6 = 4!/(2!(4-2)!). The same math gives us exactly 4 combinations of 3 notes: ABC, ABD, ACD, BCD. And of course there is one combination of 4 notes: ABCD. Add all those together and we have 6+4+1=11. Your count would be 2^4= 16. And what you are counting is this set: AAAA, AAAB, AABA, ABAA, BAAA, AABB, ABAB, BAAB, ABBA, BABA, BBAA, ABBB, BABB, BBAB, BBBA, BBBB. The difference between those sets is everything; there is no overlap.

    1. Pretty sure the old one didn’t have velocity or polyphonic-aftertouch– which is why it would need new hardware and not just a firmware update.

      1. Reading the details, they also just did a few physical tweaks based on feedback, like moving some screws and doing something to the PCB board cuz it would ‘creak’ if you pressed real hard or something. I didn’t see anything about actual software upgrades, but then they had upgradeable firmware, so that’s probably moot.

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