You can finally stop faking it while you’re trying to write song bridges, writing randomly or hoping nobody notices you didn’t write one at all….
In this article you’ll learn:
- What a bridge is in a popular song.
- Why you need to write bridges for your songs.
- How to write the lyrics, melody, chord progression and arrangement in a song bridge.
This is practical advice for writing bridges that complete your songs.
Below the video lesson is a written transcript with bonus ideas I couldn’t fit into the video, examples of bridges and links to other songwriting resources to improve your songwriting!
Begin Video Transcript
In this video you’ll learn what a bridge is in a popular song, why you need to write them into your songs and how to write a song bridge. Writing a song bridge is notoriously difficult because
1. You have to write something different, but still similar enough that it sounds like part of the same song, and
2. It’s hard to find a decent explanation of a bridge that actually helps songwriters write them. That ends now…
Hi, I’m Trevor Dimoff, I transform musicians into songwriters at epicsongwriting.com… like this video if you learn something and check out the playlist of other songwriting videos at the end.
What is a bridge in a popular song?
The bridge in a song is a song section, just the verse, pre-chorus and chorus. In a popular song, the verse leads to a pre-chorus that sets up the chorus. This pattern repeats. The bridge is something different, a pattern interrupt to keep your audience from getting bored.
Why would you use a bridge?
The function of the bridge is to provide relief from the otherwise endless cycle of verse, pre-chorus and chorus. After a few repetitions, it starts to become too predictable, and too predictable leads to a bored audience. They mentally tune out and you’ve lost them. The bridge injects something new into the song to keep their attention.
How to Write a Bridge…
The challenge of writing a bridge is balancing something different while keeping it similar enough that it sounds like the bridge is still part of the song. You have to write something different that isn’t too different. You make it sound different by creating contrast in the lyrics, the melody, the chords and the arrangement of the bridge.
Writing Bridge Lyrics
The easiest way to write a bridge is to start with the lyrics. With a strong lyrical connection, you can stretch the music farther away from the music in the rest of the song.
When I’m planning a song, I choose what I want to say with the lyrics in each section: the verses, pre-chorus, chorus and the bridge. I decide what to write about before I get deep into the songwriting process. I’ll usually save the ending of my story for the bridge. It’s even better when there’s a surprise or the punchline of the story in the bridge. Another tactic is to look at the song topic from a new perspective, zooming out for an overview or coming in for a close up to present your audience with a new angle.
Write a bridge that’s the same length as the chorus so it feels balanced with the rest of the song. You can experiment with longer or short bridges after you’ve written a few and built up some experience with them..
Writing Bridge Melodies
When you’re writing the melody for a bridge, explore ways to create contrast by changing: the range or register, the rhythms and the direction or contour of the melody.
Writing Bridge Chord Progressions
For the bridge chord progression use some new chords or a new key, change the direction of the bass line, or how long you play each chord. Find a few ideas to shake things up.
Writing Bridge Arrangements
Create contrast in the arrangement, that is how you play the music, by changing the instruments or how you play them. You can change the strumming or picking pattern in the guitar part., change the rhythms in the bass line, or change the drumming patterns in the bridge.
Writing the Entire Bridge
You don’t have to change everything, but a few adjustments each in the melody, the chord progression and the arrangement gives you a new sound for the bridge.
For example, you could start the melody low and move higher through the bridge, with fewer notes and longer notes. You might add a few new chords you haven’t used yet in the song or change the key. With a vocal guitar version, you could reduce the guitar part to a single strum for each chord for the first half of the bridge and gradually build back to a full strumming pattern for the chorus. In a full band version, you drop the energy level by taking out instruments then gradually adding them back in as you build to the final chorus.
Bonus: Bridge Examples
Exotic Bean, an original song with complete lyrics and analysis to help you write better songs… how I suffered from coffee withdrawal while travelling….
The bridge lyrics are the resolution of the story, how I’ll avoid future coffee fails. The melody follows the chromatic chord progression that uses ideas borrowed from the pre-chorus. The guitar part is higher up the neck than the rest of the song.
My song Factory Fresh, with complete lyrics and an analysis to help you write better songs… Factory Fresh is a social commentary song about our relationship with food.
The bridge is unstable with three lines of lyrics. The melody is lower than the rest of the song. The chord progression uses a new chord and the arrangement is lighter with less guitar strumming until it builds towards the final pre-chorus and chorus.
Fitting the Bridge Into a Song Structure
The bridge usually happens once near the end of a song. The full song structure of a popular song is usually: Verse, Pre-chorus, Chorus, Verse, Pre-chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus.
Two common variations are
1. Ending with Bridge then the Chorus twice, and
2. Bridge then the Pre-Chorus, Chorus to end the song.
The ideal bridge builds up the energy to the last chorus (or pre-chorus, chorus) so it feels more important than earlier ones. The bridge should also give a new perspective on the message in the chorus, adding a new level of meaning. This is easy when you save the ending of the story for the bridge, especially if you have a plot twist.
The Ideal Song Bridge
Insert Photo-IDEAL BRIDGE
The ideal bridge builds up the energy to the last chorus (or last pre-chorus and chorus) so it feels more important than earlier ones. The bridge should also give a new perspective on the message (or big idea) in the chorus, adding a new level of meaning or understanding. This is easy when you sage the ending of the story for the bridge, especially if you have a play twist!
A song with a solid bridge should feel incomplete if you play it without the bridge.
Now I’ve got four quick action steps for you.
1. For your next song, write a plot twist ending to the story and put it in the bridge.
2. Think of 3 songs you love. Pause the video for a moment and think of three songs. Good, at your next songwriting session, check out the bridges to those songs. Listen and make a list of some of the obvious musical and lyrical changes that create contrast between the bridge and the rest of the song. Pick a few of those ideas and use them in your next song.
3. Like this video (or share this article – click one of the magic share buttons on your screen) if you learned something, then
4. Check out this YouTube playlist for more songwriting videos… or (try the links below for more articles)
I’m Trevor Dimoff, I transform musicians into songwriters at epicsongwriting.com. Thanks for watching, now go write some awesome song bridges.
End Video Transcript
More Songwriting Resources to Help Your Write Bridges for Your Songs
Learn to write the lyrics and music to a song chorus!
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