5 Chord Progressions for a Song Bridge

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer
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SingerThe bridge of a song is supposed to be the section that takes the energy you’ve created in your verse-chorus structures and build on it. We’ve been looking lately at a few things that help to build that energy: dropping beats, and focusing on the dominant note. But what kind of chord progression does one use to build energy? It depends on what your chorus progression is doing.

The bridge exists mainly to give the listener a chance to be diverted away from the material of the verse and chorus. The standard format for songs that use a bridge is:

Verse – Chorus – Verse – Chorus – BRIDGE – Chorus – Chorus

But a bridge needs to be more than simply a new melody. Because it needs to build energy, the bridge should also be doing a couple of other things.

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First, the melodic ideas should be shorter than the ideas of the verse and chorus. While verse and chorus melodies tend to be thought of in 4- or 8-bar phrases, bridges should present their melodic ideas as 1- or 2-bar ideas that are move back and forth between verse-style lyrics (“here’s the situation..”) and chorus-style lyrics (“here’s how I feel about that..”). This back-and-forth builds energy.

Secondly, the chord progression itself needs to offer something different from what’s been offered before. But it also needs to build energy. So what progressions work for a bridge?

When in doubt, bridges of major key songs will work well starting on a minor chord, and it’s quite common to use the vi-chord. Here is an example:

C  Bb  F  G  C (4 beats on each of the C and Bb, 2 beats each for the F and G, and 4 beats for the final C)
Am  F  G  Am  Bb  F  Gsus  G

As you can see, whatever you choose needs to end on a chord that makes the listener not just want – makes the listener need to hear the chorus. This is achieved by ending the verse on the dominant chord (i.e., the V-chord). Dominant chords are resolved by moving to the I-chord, which is the first chord of our sample chorus.

Here are two more bridge progressions that would work, assuming your chorus is a standard progression that starts and ends on the I-chord. (Try 4 beats for each chord, but feel free to experiment):

II) Am  Em  F  C  Am  Dm  F  G

III) Am  Dm  Am  Dm  F  C/E  F  G

And what if your song is in a minor key? I find that bridges for a minor-key song work well if they dwell on the major, but not necessarily right away. So if your song is in C minor,  and your chorus begins and ends on Cm, you may want to give something like the following a try:

IV) Fm  Ab  Eb  Ab  Fm  Ab  Bb (4 beats each, hold the Bb for 8)

V) Bb  Gm  Eb  Ab  Bb  Eb  Fm  Gsus  G (4 beats each, with the Gsus and G at the end getting 2)

Your bridge progressions will build the necessary energy by concluding with a dominant chord because dominant chords like to resolve to I-chords. As with every musical decision you make, your ears will confirm if the musical effect you’re looking for – the building of energy – is actually happening. If it isn’t, try shortening up the beats on each chord as you approach the end of the bridge.

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  1. hi! I’m stuck for a bridge on my very simple song. What would you suggest for a song that is:

    verse: Em D A
    Chorus: F#m B


    • For a song that’s mainly minor, you might try a bridge that offers something in major. D would probably make a good contrasting final centre, so perhaps a progression like:

      D Em A


      D G Gm D


  2. Hello! I’m working on a song with the progression of Gm Eb F4 and FM and I’m trying to write a bridge using Am but I don’t know how to get from the key of Bb to Am without just jumping into it. How do I modulate it so it works?

  3. Hi! I’m writing a song in the key of G with the chord progression G-D-Bm-C. I’m trying to write a bridge but I’m having trouble with the chords! Any suggestions?

    • Hi Lauren:

      A bridge usually strays a bit from the key of the chorus. Your chord progression that you’ve been using is solidly in G major (I-V-iii-IV). It’s often the case that bridges of major key songs should start in minor, and then move back to the chorus’s key as the bridge comes to a close. The most common starting chord is the vi-chord (Em in your chosen key.) Youc an also start on the ii-chord (Am).

      So here are some sample bridge progressions you could experiment with:

      STARTING ON vi:
      – Em-Am-D7-Em C-G-Am-D
      – Em-C-D-Bm Em-C-Dsus4-D
      – Em-C-F-Bb Eb-Bb-C-D

      STARTING ON ii:
      – Am-Bb-Am-Dm Am-D-Em-D7
      – Am-Em-Em-G C-G-Am-D7

      As you can see, each of these progressions start on either vi or ii, but by the end of the progression they’ve moved back to make the return to your G major progression sound welcome.

      Hope this helps,

  4. Hi I’ve been writing a simple song for my wife to sing on our wedding day. It’s a simple finger picking of D A7 D G and the chorus G A D F#m7 Bm A and so on. I think I need a bridge to round it out a little though. Can you offer any suggestions please? Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Brent:

      The key you’ve chosen appears to be D major, and so the most likely key choice for a song bridge would be B minor, or perhaps (less commonly) E minor. One common way to make music sound like it’s in B minor, especially in pop music genres, is to simply start on the chord Bm, move back and forth a bit between that chord and F#m. It gives the impression of B minor without actually changing key, since both those chords can be found in your original key of D major. So you might try this for a bridge:

      Bm F#m G Bm | F#m Bm Em F#m
      Bm F#m G Bm | A F#m G A7

      How do you think that would sound partnered up with the rest of the song you’ve already written?


      • Hi there
        I’m writing a song my chord progression is
        Em Am C G

        I’m having trouble with a bridge pls can you help
        I’d be so grateful it’s my 1st song

        • Hello Leann – A bridge progression that would work with the one you’ve given would depend on which section of your song the Em-Am-C-G progression appears in. I’ll go on the assumption that it’s a verse-only song. If that’s the case, it’s common to have the bridge progression to take the song in a new direction. Since the progression you’ve given starts in a minor feel, you might try one of the following for a bridge, which tends more toward major:

          D G Am C
          G C Em D

          Any chords you come up with will be effective for a bridge if they pull your song into a slightly different key area, but then keep in mind that if you’ll probably need to get back to that original progression, so you’ll want to find a way to transition back. These suggestions will transition back quite easily.

          If you’d like to read more about bridges and the chords you might choose, read this article: Ideas to Make the Bridge the Most Powerful Section of Your Song

          Hope this helps,

  5. I am playing a very long classical piece that I want to shorten. The original changes keys often so it is not possible to just jump to the end and use the chords written. The original starts in A major and that is the key I want to end. Can you suggest an ending that is not just blocked chords and might provide a little unexpected flavor to the end of the song? Just before the ending is a long chromatic section.

    • Hello Linda:

      It would be difficult to be precise without knowing the actual piece. It seems to me that you might be able to make good use of that chromatic section at the end, and modify it so that it ends in the key you want. But as I say, I’d have to see the actual piece to be precise.


  6. that’s very usefull,thanks!anyway iam writing a song with this chord C-Am-Dm-G.
    can i ask for suggestions that fit the song for a bridge.thanks for helping!

    • For a song that’s solidly in C major, as your chord progression suggests, I would recommend starting the bridge either on Am or Dm, and then be sure to end that progression with something that gets you back to C major. So whatever you choose for your bridge, try to end it by using a G chord. Also F and Dm will slide back into C major. This is just a suggestion, but you could try something like:

      Am F C E |Am F C E|F Am G Em|F Am Dm G


  7. Hello, this is so useful, thank you! I am writing a song with the major chords of Em C G D, Can I ask for suggestions that fit the song for a bridge. Thanks for helping!

    • Hi Sherry:

      Those chords indicate G major as your main key. Because you start on Em, a bridge that starts in G major might make a good contrast, something like: G Em F D. You could also try a bridge that moves into a less common minor key, such as A minor: Am G Am C.

      Hope this helps.

  8. Hello.. I find this very useful. I just started composing a song yesterday and am just fascinated how to put new chord pattern for my bridge part. I used major chords G-D-C-D (so basic).

    Can I ask for a suggestion on what chord pattern would fit for my bridge part?

    Thank you very much.

    • Hi Richard:

      If those chords are for a verse or chorus, you might find that starting on Am for a bridge works nicely, something like: Em D Em C…


      • Though your progression is in C major, it starts on Am, so it will definitely start with a minor feel. I’d recommend that a bridge progression might do well if it starts on a major chord, either C, F or G.

  9. Hi Gary, your bundle looks very comprehensive, however, was it geared toward guitar players or is it instrument agnostic where the theory can apply to any instrument (in my case piano)?

    • Hi Darren:

      Definitely instrument agnostic. The chord progression eBooks show fretboard diagrams, but just as a “courtesy” to guitarists. The concepts and principles discussed are applicable to all songwriters, regardless of what instrument they use as their main one. They apply as well to piano-playing songwriters as to others.


      • Thanks for your prompt reply Gary. Also, I am not a very experienced musician and have only been playing for 3-4 months, will there be any issues with my lack of musical experience/knowledge?

        • Yes, I definitely think that you’d learn from my materials. I’ve written them in such a way that they can be a help to beginners, but also helpful to experienced songwriters who need to put a magnifying glass on what they’ve been doing for years. I word concepts and ideas in a way that does not require a strong knowledge of music theory. In fact, I believe that my eBooks will be of interest to non-songwriters who have been curious how and why good songs work.

          If you get my materials, keep in mind that I’m happy to be a help in whatever way I can. So if you’re working on a song and you need an extra set of ears to listen to what you’re doing, I’m happy to do that.


  10. Good day
    I am one of your customers who bought Essentials of songwriting bundle. I am kindly appealing to you to do us a video lesson of your books. Please put this into consideration Sir. It would help a lot of us. Your stuff is great. That’s my request.

    • Aloha Gary,
      Tgis is exactly what i was looking for. Great info. I am a novice but am tesding s lot to understand chords and progressions better. What chords could I use for a bridge when my song is C, G, Am, F and for a song using G, D, Em, C? So looking forward to your response. Thank you again. Do you have a Youtube channel or website? Aloha…..pono

      • With most song bridges, it’s most common to start on the vi-chord area. So for C-G-Am-F, you could try a bridge starting on Am, something like: Am-G-F-G…

        With the progression starting on G, a bridge that starts on Em is a good one.

        I do have a YouTube channel, which you can view here: https://www.youtube.com/user/garyewer/


  11. Pingback: Chord progressions | Pghboemike's Blog

  12. Very informative. I have 1000s of verse/chorus combinations that needed that something extra. I new it was the bridge that was missing, but really had no concept of how to create it. Thank you for showing me “the way”
    -Robert Boyle

    • Bb is not in the key of C major, but would be in a category of chords called altered chords. So though not in C major, it functions within the key by acting as a temporary “subdominant of the subdominant chord” (IV of IV).

  13. Thanks!
    i was having trouble with bridge progressions.
    every phrase was starting to sounds the same!
    this really helped!
    thanks alot!

    yours musically,
    Becky <3

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