How To Write A Bridge

Sep 04, 2021

How do I write a good bridge?

What is a bridge for anyway? What is its purpose?

Let’s discuss.

 

What Is The Purpose Of A Bridge?

Overall, the purpose of a bridge is to provide a change or different direction for your song.

Your choruses are probably all the same. Even if you do have choruses with different lyrics, the melody and instrumentation will likely remain the same. 

Even though your verses should have different lyrics from each other, their melody and chords will still be the same.

So the bridge is the only traditional part of a song that occurs just once lyrically and melodically.

This means the bridge is a great opportunity to really alter the tone or perspective of your song. 

A bridge can be like a side story arc in a show or a short story that goes along with a book series. 

It’s an opportunity to do something different than the traditional flow while adding depth to the song.

If you’re a fan of Star Wars, think of how The Clone Wars TV show creates a bridge between Episode 2 and 3. The show makes Anakin’s fall to the dark side more tragic and gradual. It also helps to add depth to the other prequel characters.

On the more practical side, a bridge should cause the listener to re-tune in and be hooked through the end of the song. 

The bridge shouldn’t just be a break from the chorus. 

You don’t want your listeners to spend the entire bridge waiting for the chorus to return.

 

What makes a bridge a good bridge?

A good bridge provides a pleasant surprise or doubles down on the theme or tone of the song.

A pleasant surprise could be in the form of a simple perspective change. 

Maybe you’re taking a different character’s perspective, or maybe this is the point in the song where the singer changes from “I’m sad you left me” to “Thank God I don’t have to see your face again”.

Another pleasant surprise could be in the form of a plot twist. Maybe the whole song is lamenting how short life is while looking over a grave, but the bridge reveals you’re actually a ghost looking at your own grave. Cheesy? Fine, but you get the example.

A key change can be a very effective surprise in your bridge. 

A key change in the bridge is a fairly common choice in music. Most commonly, you’ll go to your key’s relative minor. 

Other times you may utilize the bridge to change the key a half or whole step up. 

Even when you don’t change keys, you can change the chords or melody significantly from what came before in the song. 

If the rest of your song had a fairly legato melody, you might try some staccato notes in the bridge.

If you’ve mostly stuck with chord progressions using I, IV, V, and vi chords, the bridge is a great time to pull out the ii and iii chords. You could even be bold and make use of the vii chord.

You can also use half-time, effectively making your song seem to double in tempo. 

Another type of effective bridge doubles down on the tone of the song. It maintains the feel of the chorus and works as an exciting connection from one chorus to the final chorus.

This can help the transitions from chorus into bridge and bridge back into chorus sound more natural.

This style bridge can be used to effectively “accelerate” into the final chorus. This helps to elevate the final chorus to truly be the highlight of the song that it should be.

Don’t confuse the term “accelerate” as an actual tempo change here. What I’m referring to is the perceived momentum a bridge can have. A bridge building momentum into the final chorus helps that final chorus really pop.

Thinking practically, if someone zoned out after hearing the first chorus, they definitely should wake up when the bridge comes.

I think the bridge and second verse are the x-factors of most songs. You need a good chorus to have a solid song. You also need a good first verse to have a chance at a pretty good song. To have a great song, you also need to nail the second verse and the bridge.

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