Chord Board

Categories: Commercial Software Products

Submitted by:Akiva Shapiro, Chord Board, LLC

24 May 2023

Elevator Pitch

Chord Board


Product Description

Chord Board

The Chord Board provides anyone regardless of their level of music knowledge and skill, from toddlers to school children, to families, to bands, to accomplished professional musicians the ability to easily play virtually every chord possible with only one finger, and to coordinate melodies over chords without knowing anything about a fretboard (guitar) keyboard (piano) or anything about music theory at all. Please note, currently, while the Chord Board is patent pending, I am only giving demos and images of the prototype under NDA. At NAMM, I gave demos for three days, and over 350 people signed NDAs before attending the demo. After the demo, everyone was asked to give a brief interview. The attached video is a compilation of the interviews given on just day three of NAMM. I've also attached a link to the NDA for the panel would to sign and I can give a demo over Zoom. I understand if this results in a rejection of my application at this time, but, in the spirit of the competition, I would suggest that you watch through and sample the interviews taken at the show. I think you'll agree that this is something you want to know about and be in on from the beginning. It's that innovative. Last week, I flew in and gave a demo to the Patent examiner at the USPTO in Arlington. His reaction was mind blowing, and he said, "I see a lot of inventors giving demos to me, and very rarely does someone come through with something truly innovative like this." At the show, one of the last people to take the demonstration at NAMM 23, was John “Sly” Wilson, of Sly Slick and Wicked. “They were awarded the Men of Motown Award from the Motown Museum in 2003, and were inducted into the Motown Alumni Association Hall of Fame. In 2003, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame added the group to its permanent display. They were inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame[4] in 2013.” Wikipedia. John produces for the likes of Janet Jackson (since the original Jackson five), Justin Timberlake, and may more. He teaches Master Classes for music and film and works with disabled children all over the world. John Sly watched as I gave a couple of demos to people before, and when I was finished, he looked at me and said “We’ve got to talk.” He believes this can be world revolutionary and he has contacts that may be able to either license the Chord Board for manufacture or invest, and he can bring in many high-profile music artists to endorse the Chord Board when the time comes. We’ve hit it off right away and a few weeks later I signed John Sly up to a market agreement with Chord Board. Thanks for your consideration, Akiva Shapiro

How It's Innovative

The Chord Board Baby Let’s start with the Chord Board Baby. The Chord Board Baby is designed to compete with the little toy pianos that everyone buys for their children. People buy the little toy pianos in the hopes of sparking an interest and love of music in their child. Maybe you had one also as a child. The result, however cute, is that most children bang on the keys, make a racket, and are never inspired to go on to making more sophisticated music. Enter the Chord Board Baby. With a single finger, a toddler can make a variety of chords which are pleasing to hear. The chords are configured according to a key, so they sound good together. And the toddler now has a deceptively sophisticated device he or she can use to make music with just one finger. The child becomes inspired over time to make more complex music, all without having to increase skill, or practice, or know or lean anything about music theory. The ability to play chords with one finger lets the child focus not on how to play but to play by ear and play what make him or her feel good. That’s the basis of inspiration. It doesn’t seem that there is a parent in the world that would not want that possibility for their child. The Chord Board Baby truly has a place in every home in the world. The Chord Board Baby’s configuration is as simple as it gets, and it allows a toddler to play in one key (comprised of seven chords) most of the standard chords that are found in nearly all popular music – with one finger. The Chord Board Starter Those of us who have children, and those of us who have been children, fondly remember the school recitals where the kids gather and play the little plastic Recorder in a symphony of beautiful beaming faces, and questionably tolerable music. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard anyone tell me that the Recorder inspired them to be a musician or to go on to learning an instrument and making music. I’m not saying it hasn’t happened. I’m just saying, I haven’t heard of it happening and neither has anyone I’ve asked. Enter the Chord Board Starter. Now, imagine a school recital where every child can play any sophisticate chord with, yes, one finger. And imagine what a grade school music teacher can do with a class full of kids armed with this. The teacher could orchestrate a highly sophisticated musical production that will blow the socks off their parents when they come to the recital to see their children. And when the children themselves internalize how easy it is to express themselves musically, how many more will be inspired to move on to greater avenues of musical expression? Doubtless countless. The Chord Board Starter keeps the same seven chord layout but adds additional functionality to allow more complex and sophisticated chords to be played – with one finger. It actually is even more powerful than that. It can play any chord possible. For the most advanced chords, two fingers can be used, and for the very most advanced, it will take three fingers. But 95% of what most people are going to want to play can be achieved with just the single finger. Starting with the Chord Board Starter, and moving up, the instrument will be able to output a software protocol called MIDI (described above), which allows the Chord Board to control external hardware synthesizers to access any sound available on any production synthesizer on the market. It will also be able to connect the computer and output MIDI over USB and control any software synthesizer directly or through music composition software called a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). This means that the Chord Board family will join the ranks of some of the most sophisticated keyboard which can interface with virtually any hardware or software sound available on the market. That’s millions of sounds from virtually every instrument known to man! The Chord Board Jr. Many take up guitar or piano or some instrument with the dream of playing around the campfire, or playing at a family gathering, with close friends and family. But it doesn’t always work out the way we hope. The guitar takes much longer to master for many, and the dream doesn’t hole up throughout that process, and the instrument by the wayside, and the dream dies, and is left to someone more dedicated and skilled. Enter the Chord Board Standard. An instrument for the living room to play with the family or the campfire, or just to take to your room and play in private. With just one finger, and no special skill or musical knowledge required, friends and family can gather and play a unique composition. It can be passed around and everyone gets a turn. Grandpa, never played an instrument can take a turn and compose a melody which brings him back to his 20’s. Grandma, who took piano lessons until she was eleven then gave it up to focus on school now can rekindle her dreams of playing music and everyone dancing. Father and Mother can compose a love song for each other. And the kids can make funky new music of the future. All in one gathering. All in one room. All together. All with no skill required. And we mustn’t forget about our those of us born blind, or dyslexic, or disabled, or even so severely disabled we can’t even use our hands or feet. The chord board gives musical expression to the quadriplegic through a pencil held in the mouth. It gives expression to the autistic who lack the motor skills, but more than make up for it with an unfathomable imagination. The Chord Board Jr. gives musical life where it didn’t’ exist before. The Chord Board Jr. comes with a full set of 12 chords so every chord can be played, in or out of key. This allows for sophisticated key modulation not possible in the Baby or Starter versions. The Chord Board Standard The Chord Board Standard takes the Chord Board to the next level by adding a Hand Board to the Chord Board Jr. configuration what we call the Hand Board. The Hand Board is laid out like, well, you guessed it – a hand! But it’s better than just a hand. The player doesn’t have to move the hand anywhere, but it just stays in place. I know this is hard to imagine, so think of this. A traditional instrument requires that the player move at least one of their hands along some continuum over a fixed set of intervals to be able to play notes. Imagine a piano or guitar. The hand and fingers conform to where the notes are. The Chord Board’s revolutionary Hand Board is the opposite. Using technology, the notes are placed below the fingers and the notes below the fingers change with each chord, so they coordinate with the chord that’s being played. This means the player doesn’t move their hand around, instead the notes move around under the hand. With this configuration, we give the user a full five octave range merely by bending and extending their fingers, rather than memorizing where notes are and moving the hand and fingers around to accommodate. A key is generally comprised of seven notes. For any chord, five notes are usually the most common. These map to the five fingers. Of these five, three notes are generally the most tuned to a particular chord. These are mapped to the first, middle, and ring fingers. So, for most of what a person needs to play solo over a chord, the five fingers provide quick and efficient access. But, just in case the player wants them, the other two notes in key are available through two extra fingers provided by the Hand Board. The pinky and thumb can then move a small amount sideways to access these two additional notes. The result is a truly stunning product that allows a person with no music theory knowledge and no instrument skills to play chords with one finger on one hand, and play sophisticated melodies over each chord, fully coordinated and beautiful sounding with the chord, without memorizing positions or moving their hand, with a full five octave range! The Chord Board Pro Last, and most, is the Chord Board Pro. The Chord Board Pro is designed for professional musicians or producers of music or anyone who wants only the absolute best. In additional to all the features of the Chord Board Standard, including the revolutionary Hand Board, the Chord Board Pro comes equipped with an eight-track sequencer, capable of recording and playing up to 64 steps in each track. The Chord Board Pro allows the player to play and record in real time or in step mode, tracks for multiple instruments in a full production, including pads (long drawn-out sounds), piano or synthesizer, guitar or strummed instruments, brass, strings, and drums just to name a few. The user can compose full songs on the Chord Board Pro in real time before an audience or camera for recording on, say, You Tube, or compose them at their leisure and play the chords and melodies back in real time and then sing or solo over it. The uses are limited only by the imagination. Summary To sum up, the Chord Board family, from the Chord Board Baby to the Chord Board Stater, to the Chord Board Jr. and Chord Board Standard, through the Chord Board Pro has applicability and a place in not only every home in the world, but in every school, every band, every studio, and every stage. It can be used by anyone, anywhere, any time, and any place. And it provides anyone regardless of their level of music knowledge and skill, from toddlers to school children, to families, to bands, to accomplished professional musicians the ability to easily play virtually every chord possible with only one finger, and to coordinate melodies over chords without knowing anything about a fretboard (guitar) keyboard (piano) or anything about music theory at all.

See MIDI Innovation In Action

Most Inspiring Use Cases

I like to say I am an attorney by day and a musician by night. But this was not always the case. Before being an attorney, I spent decades as a software developer. And before becoming a musician, I spent decades playing only the air guitar. I became awesome at it. I started playing the actual guitar only three years ago. I was going to wait until I retired because I knew the commitment it would take, but my beautiful and loving wife, Miry, encouraged me not to wait. I took her up on the encouragement and spent the next three years lovingly working my fingers to the bone learning to play the guitar. I accomplished a lot, but very little in comparison to true accomplished players. My skills are limited to a subset of chords, because so many expressive chords are just too hard to formulate with my fingers. And then there is the music theory. I had a mental block. One day I decided it was time to learn music theory. I was motivated by seeing something which puzzled me, and I wanted to know the answer as to why a particular musical expression was done the way it was. I spent countless hours over the course of next several months reading and watching YouTube videos about everything related to music theory. I found the information highly elusive if I didn’t’ think about it all the time. Then, one day I made a breakthrough, and it all came together. I saw the mathematics behind the music theory, and in one “Ah Ha” moment, it all clicked in my mind. I had heard people say music is mathematical, but I honestly didn’t believe them. Until that moment. It was then that I realized that the traditional way of making music with traditional instruments – whether it be guitar, piano, violin, saxophone, drums, or any other instrument – found expression mostly through those with extraordinary dedication to practice and learning. It was not for the masses, for everyday people. I understood why so many people quit or hit early plateaus, or never even start. Learning an instrument and learning music theory is a daunting task. And I felt that this was never likely to change. And that made me sad. In thinking through this dilemma and wondering how it would be possible for anyone to make their own music, I observed that the inherent difficulty with traditional instruments was that a person had to memorize an instrument’s configuration and where every note was played, and they had to move their hands around to conform to the instrument. This creates dexterity challenges, which is where most people stumble. I also observed that even harder than playing an instrument was understanding music theory. So many accomplished musicians I encountered (on YouTube and in real life) admitted that despite their advanced playing skills, they didn’t understand music theory very well. This was a complete shock to me. I always thought that music theory was required to be a good musician. It turns out that many accomplished musicians struggle with music theory like the rest of us. So, I dwelt on how to solve the unsolvable problem. How could it be possible that people with no playing skills and no knowledge of music theory would be able to make music? And in this process, I had an idea, that I believe only G-d could have put in my head. It was there all at once. And it was my second “Ah Ha” moment in my musical life. And that is when the Chord Board came into being (in my mind anyway). Being an attorney, I realized I had to protect the idea. So I sought out a top patent attorney who was also a musician and together we drafted the patent application for the Chord Board and filed it December 7, 2022. After that, I realized that the Chord Board had to come into existence. So, I sought out a firm to help me develop a physical prototype. In that process, I learned that I needed much more funding and much more time. I wanted to make to the NAMM 2023 show, rather than wait a year, so after also discovering that it’s no easy feat to find a musician who’s also a programmer, I realized I had one under my roof the whole time. Me. So, I dusted off my programming skills, learned a new programming language called C# (C Sharp), which is so apropos because, C# is also the name of a musical chord, and I began bringing my idea to life. The result is the software prototype of the Chord Board which was be unveiled (in mystery under NDA) at NAMM 2023. It’s a beautiful piece of work, if I do say so myself. So far, it’s the greatest programming project of my career. It has taken all my decades of experience and skill in getting it to where it is, and I can honestly say, the Chord Board is really cool. As a software prototype, it runs on a 27” touchscreen monitor connected to a computer. But in the real world, in production, it will be a stand-alone hardware product that will interface with other musical hardware and software through MIDI. I have identified six versions of the Chord Board which will be targeted to different markets. The combination of the markets comprises every person in the world. While this seems like a big goal, the fact is that it is a practical goal, as you will see from the discussion in the other section.

Expansion Plans

The Company’s mission is to empower people of all ages, musical knowledge, and skill levels with innovative and high-quality instruments that make it easy to play chords and to develop melodies over those chords with precision and ease. It will strive to provide current and budding musicians with the tools they need to simply get started or take their playing to the next level and to make learning and playing music accessible to everyone. The Company will be committed to delivering exceptional customer service and support, and to building lasting relationships with its customers. It will be dedicated to fostering a culture of innovation and continuous improvement, and to staying at the forefront of the industry with cutting-edge products and technology. Its ultimate goal would be to help everyone around the world, make beautiful music, and bring the joy of music to as many people as possible.


Inventor, Akiva Shapiro, developed the patent application together with a leading musical patent attorney, and assigned it to Chord Board, LLC for filing. Chord Board, LLC filed the patent on December 7, 2022, and elected expedited review. The Chord Board is now in the Patent Pending stage. Chord Board Patent prosecution is expected to take around 2 years to complete. The Company introduced the Chord Board at the NAMM 2023 trade show in Anaheim. Chord Board had a significant and mysterious introduction at NAMM that was designed to generate intrigue, speculation, interest, and publicity. Since there was no time to develop a physical prototype, the Chord Board was be demonstrated by a software prototype being developed for a 27” touch screen monitor running on a PC. There were two goals for the NAMM 23 trade show 1) find a large firm, established firm to buy or license the Chord Board, and 2) capture video footage of showgoers during and after demonstration of the prototype to individuals to capture their unfiltered immediate feedback. Goal 1 is to find a firm to buy or license the Chord Board. It is anticipated that any licensing deal would include an up-front cash payment, and royalties for every Chord Board sold. Goal 2 is to capture at NAMM 23 quality and meaningful first-hand video of people using the prototype to incorporate in presentations for the next round of funding. If no licensing or purchase deal is struck, then Chord Board, LLC will pursue the next round of funding to raise the capital needed to prototype and manufacture the Chord Board physically. This will likely require $500,000 or more to accomplish. Fundraising may be done through crowdfunding, such as Kickstarter or privately. Either way, the video captured at NAMM 23 may prove invaluable in raising the capital needed to go to the next level.