Unit of competency details

CUSMCP301A - Compose simple songs or musical pieces (Release 2)


ReleaseStatusRelease date
2 (this release)Current 02/Nov/2011
(View details for release 1) Replaced29/Oct/2010

Usage recommendation:
Is superseded by and equivalent to CUAMCP301 - Compose simple songs or musical piecesUpdated to meet Standards for Training Packages. Minor edits to performance criteria to clarify intent. 14/Jan/2016

Training packages that include this unit


SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 100101 Music  

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 100101 Music  29/Oct/2010 
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Modification History



Release 2

Created to fix formatting errors only.

Released with CUS09 Music Training Package version 1.2

Unit Descriptor

This unit describes the performance outcomes, skills and knowledge required to compose simple songs or musical pieces.

Application of the Unit

Songwriters and musicians apply the skills and knowledge described in this unit. The process of composition involves an understanding of musical styles and conventions and how and when to apply these. Alternatively, composers may wish to experiment with adapting styles to create a more original-sounding song or musical piece. Skills associated with developing and applying an understanding of musical styles and genres are covered in:

  • CUSMLT202A Apply knowledge of music culture to music making
  • CUSMLT301A Apply knowledge of genre to music making.

Skills associated with using computer technology as the primary tool for composing musical pieces appropriate to this level are covered in:

  • CUSMCP303A Develop simple musical pieces using electronic media.

Licensing/Regulatory Information

No licensing, legislative, regulatory or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of endorsement.


Not applicable

Employability Skills Information

Not applicable

Elements and Performance Criteria Pre-Content

Elements describe the essential outcomes of a unit of competency.

Performance criteria describe the performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element. Where bold italicised text is used, further information is detailed in the required skills and knowledge section and the range statement. Assessment of performance is to be consistent with the evidence guide.

Elements and Performance Criteria



1. Clarify composition requirements

1.1 In consultation with relevant personnel , identify purpose  of composing songs or musical pieces

1.2 Identify musical styles , elements  and forms /structures  that might suit the purpose of the composition

1.3 Discuss with relevant personnel how approaches that break away from conventional approaches might be applied

1.4 Identify the range of instruments and playing techniques to suit the purpose of compositions

1.5 Agree on format  for final presentation of songs or musical pieces

2. Compose melodies

2.1 Apply standard melody conventions  to compositions as required

2.2 Identify climax points, harmonies and intervals to be used in the songs or musical pieces

2.3 Align lyrics with the starting points, climaxes and cadence points of a song's melody as required

2.4 Use appropriate harmonic/chord progressions or sequences in the melody to suit the style/mood of the song or musical piece

2.5 Ensure melody is rhythmically coherent and rhythm patterns are appropriate to the style/mood of the song or musical piece

2.6 Match the level of difficulty and register of the melody with available performers and characteristics of the musical style used in the song or musical piece

3. Finalise compositions

3.1 Seek feedback on work in progress from relevant personnel and refine compositions accordingly

3.2 Apply copyright notice  to the composition

3.3 Present compositions in agreed format

Required Skills and Knowledge

This section describes the skills and knowledge required for this unit.

Required skills 

  • communication and teamwork skills sufficient to:
  • discuss compositional requirements in a collaborative manner
  • respond positively to constructive feedback on own compositions
  • numeracy skills sufficient to determine duration of songs or musical pieces
  • listening skills in the context of:
  • using aural imagination when manipulating musical elements
  • applying aural-perception skills to improve compositional outcomes
  • initiative and enterprise skills in the context of experimenting with musical styles and elements
  • planning and organisational skills sufficient to:
  • gather information on musical styles, elements and forms/structures
  • match repertoire to purpose of composition
  • learning skills sufficient to:
  • identify and use techniques to develop aural memory and imagination
  • continuously evaluate and adjust own work via critical listening
  • musical skills sufficient to:
  • use compositional techniques relevant to selected musical styles
  • use instruments and musical elements relevant to selected musical styles

Required knowledge 

  • music knowledge sufficient to:
  • recognise chords and keys in tonal and/or other musical systems
  • understand and apply instrument tuning
  • understand scope and capacity of instruments for which compositions are developed
  • issues and challenges that typically arise in the context of composing songs or musical pieces

Evidence Guide

The Evidence Guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge, range statement and the Assessment Guidelines for the Training Package.

Overview of assessment 

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit 

Evidence of the ability to:

  • compose simple songs or musical pieces for a specific purpose
  • apply music, repertoire and instrument knowledge
  • use musical elements and melody conventions.

Context of and specific resources for assessment 

Assessment must ensure:

  • access to an environment where song-writing skills can be applied
  • access to appropriate range of instruments
  • use of culturally appropriate processes, and techniques appropriate to the language and literacy capacity of the candidate and the work being performed.

Method of assessment 

The following assessment methods are appropriate for this unit:

  • case studies to assess ability to use musical elements and melody conventions
  • direct observation of the candidate composing songs or musical pieces
  • authenticated samples of song-writing work with candidate's self-evaluation
  • written or oral questioning or interview to test knowledge of song-writing techniques
  • case studies and scenarios as a basis for discussion of issues and challenges that typically arise in the context of composing songs or musical pieces.

Guidance information for assessment 

Holistic assessment with other units relevant to the industry sector, workplace and job role is recommended.

Range Statement

The range statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised wording, if used in the performance criteria, is detailed below. Essential operating conditions that may be present with training and assessment (depending on the work situation, needs of the candidate, accessibility of the item, and local industry and regional contexts) may also be included.

Relevant personnel  may include:

  • performer
  • client
  • marketing and promotions personnel
  • artist's agent
  • tutor
  • mentor.

Purpose  of composition may be for:

  • specific artist
  • ensemble
  • music theatre
  • own personal development
  • corporate purposes
  • cultural purposes
  • marketing and promotion
  • educational purposes
  • special communities
  • special occasions
  • public and/or religious ceremonies
  • audio or video recordings for online products or interactive games.

Musical styles  may include:

  • classical
  • contemporary:
  • blues
  • folk
  • gospel
  • country
  • electronic
  • heavy metal
  • hip hop
  • industrial
  • pop
  • punk
  • rap
  • reggae
  • rock
  • R&B
  • soul funk
  • emo
  • jazz:
  • contemporary
  • cool school
  • easy listening
  • fusion
  • swing
  • tin-pan alley
  • traditional.

Musical elements  may include:

  • acoustics
  • aesthetic qualities
  • articulation
  • attack
  • beat
  • cultural context
  • duration
  • dynamics
  • expression
  • form
  • harmony/chords
  • instrumentation
  • interpretation
  • intonation
  • melody
  • notation
  • nuance
  • orchestration
  • ornamentation
  • phrasing
  • pitch
  • relationship to song lyrics
  • rhythm
  • scales
  • shape
  • sound production
  • suspensions
  • tempo
  • texture
  • timbre/tone colour
  • time signatures
  • tonality
  • transposition
  • unity and contrast
  • voicing
  • volume.

Musical forms /structures  may include:

  • air
  • binary
  • free/through-composed
  • mobile
  • rondo
  • sonata
  • strophic
  • ternary
  • variation
  • verse-chorus, i.e. combinations of verse, chorus, bridge and/or other contrasting sections, such as ABA, AABA, etc.

Format  may be:

  • notated
  • computer-based
  • recorded.

Standard melody conventions  may include:

  • diatonic
  • embellishments
  • harmonic rhythm
  • imitation
  • leap
  • melisma
  • phrase
  • pitch
  • repeated notes
  • sequence
  • step
  • turnaround
  • unison.

Copyright notice  may include:

  • copyright symbol, followed by the name of the copyright owner and the year of first publication
  • for sound recordings, the letter P (for phonogram) in a circle or in brackets is used.

Unit Sector(s)

Performing arts - music composition

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