|Songwriting Basics - The Bridge||| Print ||
Many songs have a "bridge" section. A bridge is the point in the song that "bridges" the first part of the song to the last by way of introducing something new and different than the verses (see "Songwriting - The Verse"), and the choruses (see "Songwriting - The Chorus").
A bridge can be lyrical or musical, and will typically be comprised of a chord progression that is unlike the verses and choruses.
For the listener, the bridge serves as a place to "break the monotony" of the verses and choruses in the first part of the song, which leaves the final chorus sounding "fresh".
Bridge LyricsLyrically a bridge will often summarize the theme of the song, but say it in a new way. Bridges are not normally just a continuation of the story line in the verses.
For example: If the verses of a song described how a man and woman met and fell for each other - and then the choruses said "I Could Never Love Anyone But You" - the bridge might summarize that theme by saying "You're all I see when I'm awake, You're all I see when I sleep".
The trick is to say what has been said - but in a new and fresh way!
Bridge MusciallyMusically, a bridge should go somewhere new as well. By introducing a fresh set of chords or a different slant on the main chord progression, the listener will hear the final chorus with "new ears" and will not suffer from "repetitive burnout", resulting in them switching channels!
For example: A song that is based on a G, C, D, chord progression might, at the bridge, go to an Em or Am minor. Or, it might go to one of the chords in the progression and do a twist on those like a walk down to a minor chord. The possibilities are limitless, but a good bridge will normally lead naturally back into the first chord of the last chorus.
Bridge TimingAnother method for writing a good bridge is to change the timing sequence of the chord progression in the bridge to make it different than the rest of the song.
For example: If the chords for the verses and choruses change on the "one" beat of each measure, you might consider playing chords for the bridge that change more quickly - like on the "one" and "three" of each measure. Or on every beat of the measure, or on every other measure. You get the idea.
Bridge IdeasGood bridges can be a challenge to write, but are a proven method of successful song structure. A good way to get some ideas for where bridges can go is to just listen to the radio and pay close attention when songs go to a bridge. One band that writes amazing bridges is the Eagles. Check out some of their stuff.
Sometimes when you have written a song that really works, that feels like it's ready to go - it can be easy to say "this song doesn't need a bridge". And it's true that some songs don't.
But it may be well worth it to explore the possibilities of incorporating a bridge into your song. It's a formula that works, and you may be surprised how much it will add to your song!
Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!
Keith Dean is founder of AdultGuitarLessons.com and a 30 year veteran of stage and studio. He toured extensively as a road musician throughout the US and Europe, was a former lead guitarist for Jason Aldean, and has shared stages with Little Big Town, Wild Rose, Winger, Confederate Railroad and more. He is a published songwriter, owned and operated a successful music store, and has instructed numerous students in guitar.