As I write more and more instrumental music, the question of how to end a piece appropriately keeps coming up. I don’t know why I’m having such trouble with it, as I never really had this problem with songs (or never noticed it if I did!). Anyway, it got me to reminiscing about my favourite types of song endings – the ones I would use over and over.
The “Lazy Old Fade” (example: Beautiful)Needs no explanation. It’s what we do when we can’t think of a proper ending – or we’re just plain lazy.
The “Singing in the Car” ending (example: All Here)
Just like when you’re singing along in the car and then the song abruptly ends, the vocals keep going for a bit after the song has ended. Usually the vocals will restate the main hook, as in “If You Wannabe My Lover”.
The “Fallen off the Edge of a Cliff” ending (example: Walking Round With Eyes Closed)
This ending puts emphasis on the last three chords, with the final one falling on the first beat of the bar and being held for at least a bar’s length. Yes, it’s a bit boring, but you can dress it up with fills so that it sounds different every time.
The “Stopped at the Edge of the Cliff” ending (example: Moving On)
As above, but it slows down for the antepenultimate and penultimate chords.
The “Dribbles to a Halt” ending (example: “Journey to Nowhere”)
The lead guitar and/or vocal does a bit of what I like to call “noodling”, just messing about, improvising a little line and having the final say.
The “One More Riff” endingThe song restates an instrumental riff which has already appeared at several points throughout the song. I know I've used this ending somewhere, but can't find a recording.
The “Jazz Hands” ending (example: Eva Cassidy - Cheek to Cheek)Can only be done with a live band. Everyone goes mad and tries to outdo each other. Sadly, I don’t have any recordings of this, but my old band “Hollie Sheard & Friends” used to do some really stonking “jazz hands” endings.