Music Theory

Question types ::: qtype_musictheory
Maintained by Eric BrissonEric Brisson
Question type supporting several exercises for music theory instruction.
Latest release:
540 sites
36 fans
Current versions available: 3
This question type is designed for music theory instruction. It currently supports the following exercises:

  1. Note writing: The respondent is asked to enter a given note on the staff.
  2. Note identification: The response is asked to identify a give note.
  3. Keyboard Input: The respondent is asked to select a given key on the piano keyboard.
  4. Key signature writing: The respondent is asked to enter a given key signature.
  5. Key signature identification: The respondent is asked to identify a given major or minor key signature.
  6. Interval writing: The respondent is asked to enter a given interval above or below a given note.
  7. Interval identification: The respondent is asked to identify the quality and size of a given interval.
  8. Scale writing: The respondent is asked to enter a given scale.
  9. Scale identification: The respondent is asked to identify a given scale.
  10. Chord quality writing: Given a chord root and quality (e.g. 'G major', 'D minor'), the respondent is asked to enter corresponding chord on the staff.
  11. Chord quality identification: The respondent is asked to identify the quality of a given chord (e.g. 'major', 'minor', etc.).
  12. Harmonic function writing: The respondent is asked to enter a given harmonic function in a given key (e.g. 'IV in D minor').
  13. Harmonic function identification: The respondent is asked to identify the harmonic function of a given chord in a given key.
When Javascript is enabled, answers are entered and displayed in an HTML5 graphical user interface, using two separate Javascript components (Music Theory GUI and Keyboard Input) packaged as YUI modules. All the exercises above are fully functional without Javascript, except for 1) Note writing, 2) Note identification and 3) Keyboard Input.

Each of the exercises above (except for #3, Keyboard Input) can also be configured so that a specific question is randomly generated upon starting an activity. The randomization can be based on a set of parameters configured when the question is created or edited. For example, it is possible to configure an interval writing question so that it asks for a perfect fifth above a randomly chosen given note. This randomization process, configured during question creation, alleviates the need to create very large question banks, and can be particularly useful for interval and chord/harmonic function questions, given that the number of possible questions for these exercises is very large.

I made a choice to create a framework where the correctness of a given question is automatically computed, without having to enter individual answers during question creation. A framework for adding various grading strategies for each exercise is also in place, and is currently used for the scale writing exercise (currently allowing either an "all-or-nothing" grading strategy, or a "partial grade" approach where each correct note is given partial credit).

This plugin was developed with the hope of creating a music question type that would support a wide range of music theory exercises, using a single graphical user interface that is flexible enough to support such exercises. It is hoped that it will facilitate further development and Moodle server maintenance.

Special thanks to Jay Huber for his very significant contributions to the existing standalone Moodle music question types (Music Key Signature, Music Interval and Music Scale), and for inspiring me to develop this new question type.

Many thanks to Ken Graetz, Scott Schradle and colleagues in Winona State University's TLT and IT departments for their support of my Moodle development efforts through the maintenance of our institution's Moodle server.


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Eric Brisson
Eric Brisson (Lead maintainer): Question type author
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  • Wed, Oct 23, 2019, 9:14 PM
    Hi Eric,
    this plugin looks amazing smile
    Is it possible to translate it into German? The English-skills of my 10-14 year old students are not good enough yet to manage these questions in a foreign language wink
  • Eric Brisson
    Thu, Oct 24, 2019, 8:25 PM
    Hi Daniel,

    Adding a more generic question subtype as you described is something that I have considered several times and that I am still contemplating. I do think that it could provide a useful feature for the purpose of asking less conventional questions. I will continue to keep it in my plans - I may have some time next summer to design a first draft. I'm glad to hear that the plugin is useful for you!

  • Eric Brisson
    Thu, Oct 24, 2019, 8:44 PM
    Hi Juliane,

    Translating the plugin into German is certainly possible. Translated strings can be contributed by Moodle users using AMOS ( - once submitted and approved, the translated strings automatically become available within the plugin itself (for Moodle servers that use one of the German language packs).

    This plugin has already been translated into a few languages (, and it would be wonderful to have a German translation as well!

    I hope that this is helpful - please let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Fri, Dec 13, 2019, 7:24 AM
    Hi, I have one question about translating this plugin:

    "Enter a comma-separated list of notes,
    without spaces, using the following syntax:

    [Uppercase letter name][Accidental
    ("n" = natural, "#" = sharp, "b" = flat, "x" = double-sharp, "bb" = double-flat)]4, ...

    Random example: answer=>Cn4,​En4,​G#4"

    Should I translate the random example (Cn4) with pt-br Brazilian note names? Does the plug-in checks for an absolute syntax or is it relative to the current localization (ie, it expects Dón4 instead of Cn4) ?
  • Eric Brisson
    Fri, Dec 13, 2019, 8:00 AM
    Hi Fernando,

    The plugin needs an absolute syntax for this portion of the instructions - please use "Cn4,​En4,​G#4" in the translation. Please let me know if you have any other questions, and many thanks for your translations!

  • Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 8:21 PM
    Thanks Eric,

    I have finished the pt-br translation, hope it gets approved soon! Thanks for your work on this plugin.

    Best regards,
    Fernando Rauber
  • Eric Brisson
    Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 9:52 PM
    Hi Fernando,

    Great to hear - again, many thanks for your translations!

  • Wed, Jan 29, 2020, 2:36 AM
    A few requests and suggestions:

    1) Construction and identification of modes in different keys
    2) Controlling which keys are used for random roman numeral analysis. I find it upsetting when it randomly generates problems in very difficult keys (ie, Eb minor) instead of the more usual keys I wanna my students to really master. Ideally, I wanna control also which parts of the random test are easier and which ones should be more difficult in regards to keys.
  • Tue, Feb 25, 2020, 5:41 PM
    Thank you for sharing this article, I also love mp3 music and used it and set it as a ringtone on my phone. You can also learn more and download phone ringtones at: TelefonZilSesleri
  • Thu, May 28, 2020, 11:02 PM
    Hello Eric.
    I've been using your plugin since 5 years or so and everything worked fine. I also contributed the italian translation. Now we have moved our Moodle to another hosting and installed 3.8
    We have made a backup of the course and restored it to the new Moodle but now the plugin seems not working: I'm getting the following error:
    Failed to load question options from the table qtype_musictheory for questionid 106
    Any idea on how we can solve this?
  • Thu, May 28, 2020, 11:13 PM
    ... and going deeply into the error i get this message as well:
    Eccezione - Class name must be a valid object or a string
  • Eric Brisson
    Fri, May 29, 2020, 2:30 AM
    Hi Marco,

    I will try to help you with figuring out the issue. Looking at existing posts from other plugin users who had this error, the most frequent cause is that the course was imported before the Music Theory plugin was installed on your Moodle 3.8. Could this be the case for you? If it is, it looks like the easiest way to fix it would be to delete the imported course (if this is an option for you), install the music theory plugin (if it wasn't already installed), and re-import the course.

    If this wasn't the problem, please feel free to let me know which Moodle version you used to backup to course and I will try to see if I could re-create the issue.

    I hope this is helpful - thank you!
  • Fri, May 29, 2020, 10:39 PM
    Hi Eric
    It's exactly my case... Fixed!
    many thanks
  • Mon, Jun 15, 2020, 4:15 PM
    Hi Eric,
    I'd have some questions to your music theory plugin. Would be happy if we could have a quick chat about pentatonic scales, rests,...
    I have sent you a contact request.
  • Thu, Mar 4, 2021, 12:18 AM
    Hi Eric,

    First of all, I would like to thank you for your effort and for creating this fantastic plugin! It makes our work as teachers much easier! THANK YOU!

    I am building a Moodle site for a Global Music Campus in East Africa, and we were wondering if it would be possible to add some more options to some of the Music Theory Plugin exercises. For example:

    - Regarding Writing intervales, the plugin only contains 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Would it be possible to add 7 and 1?
    - Regarding Writing cords: would it be possible to add 7 and the seventh chords as well. C7 Cm7 C∆ and Cø ( 7, m7, ∆ and ø)?
    - Regarding Scale Writing: is it possible to add Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian?

    Since I am not a developer, I do not know if I am asking for a lot of work, but if those options could be implemented, it would help us a lot!

    Thanks in advance for your time and effort!
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