This week's question comes from Richard Wells of Bala Cynwyd, Penn.
"Who created the idea of songs fading out and why? It seems a rather odd concept—that a song would not end definitively, but rather fade away into silence. That's not how songs are played live; why is it accepted for studio recordings?"
Short answer: we don't know who or why. But we got some pretty good ideas from a bunch of very knowledgeable folks.There has been some speculation that song fades date back to the earliest days of recording. But back then it would have been a challenge because recording was mechanical — a live performance was etched directly onto a cylinder or disc by a needle that was essentially vibrated by the sound waves created by a band. To achieve a fade as we know it today, the musicians would have to play softer and softer and softer and softer.
Read more here.