Outro: The Ending of a Song

Posted on November 23, 2022

As the ending of a song is the last thing a listener will hear, leaving a good impression with a memorable outro is important. However, that’s often easier said than done. Read on to learn about song outros and the different ways to end a song.

What is an outro in music?

An outro is the section that ends a song. Therefore, an outro can be considered the opposite of an intro, the section that begins a song. Although the song outro can contain elements that were introduced earlier in the song, it is a part of the song that is not repeated, unlike the chorus and the verse.

Outros are often instrumental but can include vocals as well. If the outro has vocals, it is common for the lyrics to consist of a simple line of repeated lyrics or nonsense singing (for example “na, na, na” or something similar).

The term outro is most often used in the context of popular music, while the terms “conclusion” or “coda” are used when talking about classical music. The word outro can be used in other contexts as well, such as movies and literature. However, an outro always refers to some kind of ending or conclusion.

How to end a song

In most cases, the outro can end a song in two ways: with a so-called fadeout or a full stop.

  • Fadeout: One way to end a song is by slowly lowering the volume as the song keeps playing. The same passage is often repeated over and over again with little to no variation. An outro like this can have vocals or be completely instrumental. After the same passages have repeated several times, the song gradually gets more quiet until it fades away completely.
  • Full stop: Instead of a slow fadeout, the song’s outro can have an abrupt ending. With a more abrupt ending, there is a stronger sense of resolution compared to a fadeout.

In addition to ending a song abruptly or with a fadeout, the outro can be written in a way that transforms seamlessly into the next song on the album. In this case, it is not always clear where one song ends and another begins just by listening.

Outro examples

One band known for their recognizable outros is AC/DC. Although they are far from the only band to do so, AC/DC tends to end their songs with a big crescendo of guitars, drums, and bass followed by a full, hard stop.

A well-known example of a lengthy song outro is at the end of “Hey Jude” by The Beatles. The song’s outro covers about the entire second half of the song and lasts for four minutes. “Hey Jude” is an example of a song that ends by gradually fading out.

What is a coda?

One term that is often used interchangeably with the word outro is coda. While the ending of a song in popular music is referred to as an outro, in classical music, the term coda is used instead. Apart from the context where the two terms are used, there’s not really a difference between them. The word “coda” comes from the Italian word meaning “tail,” as in the tail end of a song. The term “codetta,” on the other hand, is used to refer to the ending of a shorter section within a song rather than the entire composition.

Learn more about songwriting and different parts of a song

It’s not enough that you can end a song well. After all, a song is a sum of its parts. Learn more about other parts of a song and song structure in our complete guide to songwriting.

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