Don’t Fade the Music!

1. The sound fades out so slowly, so gently, that you don’t notice when the fade begins or ends. This is used in movies and TV to transition from mood-setting music into dialogue.

2. The final musical phrase is repeated, each iteration quieter than the last.

If there’s a third type of fade—not a sub-variety of one of the above two—please tell me about it.

You’re unlikely to have a situation calling for fade #1, and fade #2 sounds bad even when done professionally. The only reason you’re thinking about a fade is because you chose music that’s much too long for the show. Yes, it’s the perfect fit in every other way, but unless you can extend the show without boring anyone or unless you’re an expert musical surgeon and can extract parts of the song without folks noticing, you’ll do better finding a shorter piece.

I’ve said it before and will probably say it again in the future: Fading the music at the end sounds just like what it is—you ran out of show before you ran out of music.

Published in: on May 26, 2010 at 8:53 am  Comments (4)  


  1. I think I understand most of the points you make – I agree that manually fading a song out at the end makes it look like you ran out of show before music. However, if one particular song is best for the ending, it is a better choice (than choosing an inferior song for the ending) to introduce the song somewhere in the middle, so that the natural fade ending of the song times perfectly with the fade of the last slide. Of course, you need to be able to blend songs seemlessly in order to accomplish this.

    My single largest complaint about PSP is the audio interface. Having used many programs for video and audio editing, the audio interface in PSP is combersome to use. They really should have the traditional, two timelines for audio, with the ability to add volume markers anywhere in the song. This allows the user to blend songs seemlessly anywhere in the show.

    I wish Photodex would fix this, as I am tired of rendering Mpeg 2 files and using another software app to create the finished product.

    • If a particular song is best for the ending it won’t sound like it’s the best if all the air is let out of it by a fade.

      I wholeheartedly agree with you about having two full-blown audio tracks. It’s annoying to attach sound files to individual slides.

  2. You make some sense, but I cannot say that I agree. First I do not agree that with your premise that running out of photos before the music is Bad! Most shows have far too many slides and transitions that detract from the photos – much more than a fade during the last slide. Adding slides that may be of questionable quality and or value to end with the music is far worse for the show in my opinion. When I creat a show, I start most times with the mucic and let it dictate the flow of the show. Thank you for your opportunity to comment

    • Ken, I totally agree with you about the dubious practice of overloading a show with unneeded photos, but what I really wanted to get across is something I just wasn’t clear enough about and that I should have been: To properly fade out music, it should be a long, slow fade because, otherwise, it sounds as if the music was ambushed and choked to death. The same sort of devise works well when going from one piece of music to another (long fade-out, long fade-in) giving it a very natural transition.


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