The Endings

I’ve written about endings before. How do you end a never-ending story? But the word “ending” is so … so singular. The reality is, like any narrative, A Life’s Work has more than one ending.

The film is broken into several “chapters.” I use “chapter” instead of “act” because when  we think of acts we tend to think of three or five. A Life’s Work  has at least seven chapters (Goals, Beginnings, Influences, Challenges, Setbacks, and more). Within each chapter each of the four subjects is given 3-7 minutes. So each chapter has to end somewhere, and someHOW; and within each chapter the subjects’ section has to end somewhere, somehow; and within each section the subjects’ telling us that bit of their story must end somewhere, somehow.

But wait! That’s not all.

There will be music, and that must end, too.

As I see it, there are three ways to end the music that will appear in A Life’s Work, and lucky you, I just happen to have recorded three “noodles” to make my point. These noodles are just that: plain and drab. There’s no sauce, and there are no spices, just me fingerpicking an acoustic guitar, recorded in my bathroom on a crappy recorder. Each is about a minute long. They are  similar, but different. I could have recorded the same piece and ended it three different ways, but I thought recording three different pieces might be more interesting for you as a listener.

Noodle 1

The tune resolves (i.e., goes back to the home key, where we started) and ends. This suggests completion. Pretty straightforward.

Noodle 2

The tune fades out. Not as a straightforward as Noodle 1, this can be taken literally, the tune fades to nothingness (or at least inaudibility), but it can also suggest endlessness.

Noodle 3

The tune ends but does not resolve — we expect the tune to go back to the home key, but instead it leaves us hanging. Suggests unfinishedness.

All of these have their place, and the unresolved ending can be most effective, but it must be used judiciously. It is the most noticeable ending, and film music should shy away from calling attention to itself most of the time. (You could say film music should be seen and not heard.)  Ending every bit of music with no resolve would become tiresome very quickly. But used once or twice, and in the right place, and it can pack a wallop. “The right place” being the operative word in that sentence. I used a shorter version of this Noodle in the Arcosanti time lapse clip.

Where to use these kinds of endings in A Life’s Work is something I’ll spend a lot more time considering as the film gets nearer to completion.

Lots of decisions. And I haven’t even mentioned beginnings. Fade in like Noodle 2 or …


If you’d like to hear some guitar music of the non-Noodle variety (in this case classical guitar music), check out the Music page.

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