Music History

Published on November 5th, 2018 | by Jon Bunnies

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Why do some songs fade out on record? Here’s an explanation.

[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]

There are three ways a song can come to an end. To illustrate, let’s look at several examples.

The first is known in radio parlance as the “cold end.” This is when a song comes to a pronounced, final and almost dead stop. Jack White chose to end Seven Nation Army this way.

The second sort of song ending is the “last chord,” a method with no better example than the 54 seconds that end The Beatles’ A Day in the Life.

And finally, there’s the fadeout, whereby the volume of the song decreases and decreases until there’s nothing left but silence. Again, we can look to The Beatles for the singalong coda of Hey Jude.

Where did the idea of fading a song into the darkness come from?

for the answer.




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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