Improvising Outros

exitAdd one last touch to your lead sheet masterpiece with a stylish ending.  “Outros” (the opposite of intro) may be as creative or clichéd as the tunes they close. Here are some common approaches to keep in mind as you explore possibilities.

Apply the Brakes

Some arrangements stop suddenly for a surprise effect but it is more common to ease listeners into endings. Like a train slowing down as it approaches the station, playing ritardando near the end of a tune hints that you’re about to finish.  You can emphasize this effect by repeating the last few measures.  Then confirm arrival with a fermata on the final I chord.

Twinkle Endings1

This is the end… really… I mean it…

Playing the last chord over and over delays the inevitable.
Twinkle Endings3

Range Change
Add pizzazz by repeating the last chord concerto-style in a couple of ranges.

Twinkle Endings2

Flying Hands

Play the last chord hand-over-hand Liberace-style for a flashy sound that’s also   exciting to watch.  Then “button it” with a final low tonic note.

Twinkle Endings4Scaling Away…

Try improvising a little scale at after the last chord as you fade away.

Twinkle Endings5 Mashup

Combine approaches for a really big ending.

Twinkle Endings6

These are just a few of the possibilities.  For more ideas, observe how your favorite composers and musicians handle endings and then emulate their approaches in your own tunes.

Until next time, enjoy your creative music-making journey.


(This article first appeared in Clavier Companion magazine’s Create and Motivate column.)


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