Joyst has a gamely approach to the future of music

Joyst’s new gamer-style MIDI controller opens up new possibilities for electronic musicians.

UCD spin-out Joyst is launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding for a new electronic music device based on gamer-style thumb joysticks.

The Joyst JV-1 MIDI controller provides an array of gamer-style thumb joysticks to give more expressive possibilities for electronic musicians. Notes are played by striking the joysticks, if one is then rotated, this pitchbends that note up or down.

“Why can’t a MIDI controller let you bend notes like an electric guitar? Even on the earliest prototype, we could see the power of joysticks in this role”

Using joysticks in this role is a very new approach for a MIDI controller, which significantly increases a musician’s ability to play with subtle intonation and expressive flourishes.

The JV-1 has emerged from a Master of Engineering thesis project carried out by Philip Snell under the supervision of Dr Paul Cuffe at the UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Based at NovaUCD, Joyst was co-founded by Philip and fellow UCD Master of Engineering graduates, William Langrell and Edward Byrne, along with Dr Cuffe, to commercialise the JV-1 MIDI controller.

Music to investors’ ears?

The ambitious goal of the project was to create a new MIDI controller that would allow a musician to bend each note, finely control velocity, inject vibrato, and articulate precise aftertouch effects.

Maximising ease of playability was also a key project goal, which led to the JV-1 adopting the note layout of a chromatic accordion.

In this handy arrangement, every type of chord has a consistent fingering shape, regardless of its root note. Scales are always the same pattern wherever you start. This minimises the need for rote memorisation.

Hitting the high notes

light green and grey coloured digital music controller.

The Joyst JV-1

“From day one, the vision for the JV-1 has been simple, electronic music with no creative compromises,” Snell explained.

“Why can’t a MIDI controller let you bend notes like an electric guitar? Even on the earliest prototype, we could see the power of joysticks in this role. They allow the player to inject subtlety and fine intonation into their playing, with a tactile and responsive feel.

“The buttons and pads you find on traditional MIDI controllers are just too one-dimensional, sterile and overly digital. Joysticks restores what was lost, a full range of motion, a responsive springiness, organic bends, fresh sounds. Electronic music in full colour.”

Through its Kickstarter campaign launched today, Joyst has set a minimum funding target of €12,500 to be raised by the close of the campaign on 5 November. Backers will be rewarded with various reward tiers if the project is funded. Discounts are on offer for the earliest backers, who can secure a JV-1 for just €199, a significant discount on its RRP of €349.

“We’ve been through several good rounds of prototyping now so we are now ready to present JV-1 to the world through our Kickstarter campaign,” Joyst COO and co-founder William Langrell explained.

“We are super excited about the JV-1 so we are asking people to back this project today to help us meet, and hopefully even exceed, our Kickstarter target and get the JV-1 into the hands of talented musicians around the world.”

Main image at top: Philip Snell with his invention, the Joyst JV-1

By John Kennedy (

Published: 6 October, 2020