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A bridge usually comes after the second chorus in a song, and it has many reasons for existing. Among those reasons, the introduction of new melodic material is probably the most important one. After two verses and two choruses, your song will gain extra mileage by incorporating a bridge. Not every song needs a bridge, however, just as not every song will use a chorus. Done improperly, a bridge may make a song sound cluttered, so it’s important to get it right.
If you find that your song bridges feel disconnected from the rest of your song, or seem to lack purpose, check out the following tips. Do a YouTube search if any of the song samples are unknown to you:
1) Allow bridge chord choices to “explore”. Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” is a great model for this point. Verse and chorus chords tend to be rather straight-forward and clear as they fairly constantly point to one chord as being the tonic. With bridge chords, you should feel free to explore more complex harmonies by adding altered chords, or even temporarily modulating to a new key.
2) Create lyrics that quickly alternate between describing situations and expressing an emotional response. We know that verse lyrics tend to describe scenarios or set the scene. We use chorus lyrics to describe our emotions. With bridge lyrics, you’ll build considerable song energy by quickly moving back and forth between the two. A great example I like to use that demonstrates this is Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” Check out the bridge lyric that begins, “I remember you driving to my house…” and see how quickly it alternates between situational and emotional lyric development.
3) Move your melodic range higher than the verse and chorus. This is the most common approach to writing a bridge melody. As the emotion intensifies, you can help build energy by moving the melody higher. And again, “Single Ladies” demonstrates this. Your options at the end are to drive directly into the final choruses, or to perhaps allow the energy to dissipate if your plan is to follow with a third verse.
4) Don’t assume your song needs a bridge. A bridge provides new material if two verses and choruses leave you with that “what do I do now?” feeling. But your song may not need a bridge, particularly if there is an instrumental interlude built in to the end of each verse or chorus.
5) Consider other options to a standard bridge. Try an instrumental rendition of the verse as a nice option. Chicago’s “Love Me Tomorrow” from Chicago 16 uses this approach to great effect. It works really well if you have no desire to build a lot of song energy, but simply want something different from what’s already happened. Other options: instrumental solo, or punch things up with a very short (2- or 4-bar bridge) where the sole purpose is to build energy directly upward (“Mr. Monday” by The Original Caste demonstrates this.)
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