Complete Package

A colleague was walking past my office the other day and stuck his head in.

“What is that sound?”

“Sorry–just music. I didn’t think anyone else could hear it.”

“That’s music?”

In fact, it was the very last note from an album entitled Last Concert by a Japanese jazz band named Ground Zero. Ground Zero is noisy, discordant, and generally unpleasant to listen to. I love them.

This particular note, I believe their last as a band, was a high-pitched sine wave that drones on for multiple minutes. It’s the sort of noise that usually means your brake pads are wearing out. Not musical or pleasant in any way, but perfect in context.

We got to talking later about how few bands or singers we could think of whose last song (or note!) punctuated their careers, perfectly tying the bow on the body of their work. Queen ended Made in Heaven with a somber drone that may have reflected how the surviving members felt, but never seemed to me to reflect what Freddy Mercury stood for. The Beatles, on the other hand, couldn’t have had a better end than “The End,” complete with her majesty’s coda. One of my colleagues pointed to Mozart’s Requiem and Beethoven’s final string quartet as positive examples of appropriate career enders.

Are there others?

Good endings are inspired. From a design standpoint, the notion of creating something that feels like a complete, coherent package with a distinct ending is so important, and often overlooked in instruction, where we tend to default to simple summaries to end e-learning courses. Where’s the inspiration in that?

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