Sunday, January 15, 2012

The psychology of the fade out at the end of a song

A "fade out" in music is when when volume of the song decreases gradually until the listener hears nothing at all, and is a common way songs are ended. There's a lot of hate for the fade out, as many people think it's a lazy way to end the song. Critics will say "I guess they couldn't come up with a good ending so they just turned the volume down".

Perhaps in many cases it is the result of laziness but often times it works well to create a feeling that the song is continuing on forever. But why would gradually turning down the volume create a vibe that something is continuing on forever?

One thing I've noticed is that the songs seem to sound their best during the fade out. Technically it probably doesn't really sound any better at all, but it's the point where you're like "goddamn this song is awesome, I wish it would keep going and going, I don't want it to stop". It's the point where you really start to appreciate the song and realize how good the vibe is. You've already heard the chorus several times by now at this point, but you took it for granted. Now you're realizing that this isn't going to last forever, and you're trying to hold onto it for as long as you can and cherish the moment.

You've heard the phrase "You don't know what you've got until it's gone", which can apply to many things in life like relationships and your health. When you're in the moment you don't quite realize just how good you have it, it's not until it's over or gone that you really appreciate it. Well, the fade out gives us the unique opportunity to have each foot on a different side and see both perspectives at the same time. On the one hand we still hear the song and are still in the vibe, but the other side of us sees it slipping a way and is in the perception of the song being over. We're able to experience both being in the moment and seeing the moment lost at the same time - which enables us to appreciate the song in the way we appreciate things in life after they're gone - only this time we have the benefit of getting to do that while we're still in the moment, if only for a brief amount of time.