What are the different ways to end a song?
One thing is clear. It is powerful when everyone in a group ends a song in a clean way, with no single ukulele trailing behind when everyone else has stopped playing. Having a leader indicate the end through specific gestures helps. As there are many ways to end a song, it makes sense for everyone to end it in the same way.
For some songs, it is obvious that you slow down to end it. How much do you slow down? Quickly or gradually?
For others, you keep the same tempo and end on a single chord.
The famous “cha cha cha” effect is merely three consecutive strokes of down, up, down on a single chord.
It’s also possible to do the “cha cha cha” on the I-V7-I such as C-G7-C or I-IV-I (C-F-C). This short cadence gives it more of a finality than staying on the same tonic chord (C).
To give the ending an “umph” you can delay the final tonic chord by elongating or repeating the chord progression just before it. Example: I-IV-V-IV-V-IV-V-I which translates to C-F-G-F-G-F-G-I
When you don’t end a song on its tonic, it leaves you hanging, begging for more, wondering what’s next, feeling the tension while suspended in space, etc. There is no rule that requires you to end the song in the first chord of its key.
The rasgueado strum (rubbing all four strings with the flat side of your index finger back and forth quickly) is a way to prolong a chord, sometimes giving a romantic effect. This kind of tremolo avoids having everyone end at the same time.
It’s also possible to end a song with one person doing a solo, as found in “99 Red Balloons” which begins and ends with one person singing verse alone.
Likewise, you can make it an instrumental ending with a chord progression or cadence.
Thankfully, ukulele song sheets usually indicate or suggest ways to end — no need to re-invent the wheel.
Fade out: repeat diminuendo until silent
You can also modulate to a different key to end a song, or try other ways.