Saturday, June 29, 2019

5 Ways to Write Song Endings

 Today we are going to be taking a look at five different ways in which you can end a song. Every song, no matter how much we love it, has to come to an end. Hopefully we can come up with a few that will actually add to your song, and help set it apart from other songs on the market.

1. Fade Out - Ok, I had to start here, because it's probably the most popular one out there. This is the gradual fade. The song becomes quieter and quieter until it is no more. Now some bands have used this to a humorous effect, by having the song begin to fade, and then turning it back up, maybe having someone tell the audio engineer to turn it back up. But basically the fade will always be a go to way to end a song. I always liked fades that seemed like the harmonies of the vocals could keep going forever.

2. Radio Bar Ending - I don't know what to call this ending, but I heard it the other day on a Fountains of Wayne song called "Radio Bar," and instantly recognized it as one that Billy Joel has used, and that show tunes sometimes use. It's where the last chorus is basically the same as the other choruses, but an extra line is added in to delay the ending just a little bit, and then the whole song comes to a dramatic end, but then the music starts back up, and I can imagine actors leaving the stage in a play while the band continues to play. I believe this ending comes from the theater, but you can hear it in "Radio Bar."

3. Fugue - I LOVE fugues. Especially vocal fugues. I don't know what it is about them, but there is something awesome about getting lost in the dizzying mingle of voices at the end of a song. One of my favorite songs to do this is "God Only Knows," by the Beach Boys. I would have been happy if Brian Wilson had extended the fugal part at the end a couple more minutes, but he probably knew it was better to cut it off short. But any song that goes into a complex fugue is well worth listening to. The only problem is very few songwriters do it. I wish it would become a popular thing, because I love it.

4. Key Change - Some songs over did this, and this is where the "truck driver" key change has become a bit of a joke, but a well done key change can be really awesome. Think about the ending of "Good Vibrations." That's a series of key changes done right.

5. Abrupt Stop - Nothing says you can't just end your song. It can stop and then start up again, as mentioned in the second point, but it can also just plain stop.


6. Picardy Third - I figured I would leave you with one more way to end a song, that you almost never hear. If you have a song in a minor key, a way to end it to make it sound really classical would be to end on a Picardy Third. A Picardy Third is when you end on the minor i chord, but then you raise it to a major I chord. So if you are in Am, you would end the song on Am and then raise it to an A major. Elton John did this on the song "I Need You to Turn To," on his 1970 Elton John album. It could be a bit cheesy if not done well, but Elton really did a good job using it there. 

If you can't figure out how to end your song, hopefully these tips will give you something to think about. And if you found these tips helpful, you can find out more about songwriting tips and tricks in my new book: "Lyrics and Music: Music Theory for Aspiring Songwriters" available now at, or with several additional Appendices at Barnes and Noble.

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