There are three steps to heaven. The best democracy has an executive, legislature and a judiciary. Basic technical drawing at first year level will show you that designs have a front elevation, end elevation and plan. This three-dimensional world we live in just loves to hit us with threes. The post-impressionist French artist, Paul Cézanne, defined natural things by their geometric shapes. In nature everything was either a cylinder, a cone or a sphere. I could go on with more trinities but it’s time to get the point and it concerns that most basic of popular art: the song.
There are many genres of songs from bluegrass to electro and everything in between and outside. And there are many ways to write a song. Some follow the tried and trusted- verse, chorus, verse, chorus, break, chorus- line. Others try to be more clever by being more instrumental, having varying themes and mood swings in the song and doing away with a chorus. Going back to our threes it was common for most songs to be a three-minute record.
The start of a song also offers a wide breadth of varied starting methods. This can be a big power chord or an a cappella introduction and everything in between and outside. At this juncture it would not be a lie to say that there are more than three ways to start a song. Some performers even leave in the 1.2.3 countdown. During Space Oddity David Bowie reversed the countdown all the way from, not Memphis, from ten to lift-off. This did tie-in with the storyline of the lyric.
As we can see there are many types of songs in vastly differing musical styles and they can all have a completely random beginning depending on the whim of the songwriter. The composer runs into a more troublesome area when he reaches the end of the song. This is because there are only two ways to end a song. The two ways are with an abrupt halt or a fade-out.
The abrupt halt does bring closure and signifies the end. I prefer the sudden stop as it’s as if you’ve slammed the book shut and all has been resolved. The fade-out is a bit of a cop-out. These fades can last longer than most of the song. Hey Jude, anyone.
I have to laugh at fade-out songs because when the artist performs these songs live they can’t fade them out in front of an audience. How can you ask a crowd to partake in a fade-out? There would be too many variables as everyone would have their own idea of when the fade-out should stop. It would be chaotic. Therefore, the creators of fade-out songs change their tune and introduce an improvised ending. Ending with a bang. Why didn’t they do that in the first place?
Another subtle tactic used in live version fade-out songs is the morph into another song. The song is fading and fading before a new track is played resulting in the inevitable cheer from the crowd. The band might think they’ve got away with it but it’s cheating. The song has not been offered the way it originated.
Fade-out songs show a lack of talent as everyone should know when to call it a day. It’s just that fade-out songs make me so angry I don’t know when to stop. I mean, who on this earth wants to hear the same tune dying away in the distance? The Spices called it right- Stop right now, thank you very much.