Getting Bridge Lyrics Right

A bridge doesn’t just intensify emotions, it usually completes the lyric.

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Rock BandA song’s bridge, also called middle-8, usually happens right after the second chorus. It’s usually 8 bars in length, but there are no rules. Briefly, you want your bridge to do a couple of important things:

  1. Provide new musical material (melody, chords, lyrics, even instrumentation) to contrast with verse and chorus.
  2. To finish a lyric,or at least provide important new information.

Most songwriters instinctively get the first point – providing new musical material. It just feels right, after having heard two verses and choruses, to take the listener in a new direction.

It’s the lyric that can cause problems, however. Yes, a bridge lyric will often provide an intensity and deepening of emotion, but it needs to do more than that. In fact, if all your bridge lyric is doing is getting more emotional about the song’s topic, it can wind up making you sound bad-tempered or whiny, depending on your song topic.

A bridge is not an opportunity to say the same thing in a different way — you need to do more. That “more” should be finishing what’s been started in the verse. If your song is a description of a situation, use the bridge lyric to complete it, to “let the other shoe drop”, as it were.

In any case, a good bridge lyric can build a certain amount of energy and momentum by switching quickly back and forth between observational-type statements, and an immediate emotional response.

In that regard, a verse lyric and a chorus lyric by themselves should make sense. But don’t be surprised if a bridge lyric seems to sound confusing on its own. A bridge needs to bring a song’s lyrical narrative to completion.

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Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow on Twitter.

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3 Comments

  1. Thank you Gary for tips! I must say it’s the best songwriting blog I’ve ever seen.

    I have a question. to you. What do you think about “Safe And Sound” by Capital Cities? In my opinion the song has interesing built. Is it “verse-refrain” form?

    • Thanks, glad you enjoy the blog. “Safe and Sound” does have an interesting form. After the first verse, it’s like a refrain, but then it really does become a bit more of a chorus after the second verse. And then the other interesting part of the design is that you get a bridge section after a 3rd verse, which I have to say I’ve never seen before. By the end of the tune, the verse is almost operating as a kind of chorus itself. What’s so interesting about the song is that if you just casually listen, you’re not really aware of any of these innovative things. It’s just when you dig in to really listen that you become aware of the non-standard parts of the song. Great tune!

      -Gary

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