A song’s bridge should provide good contrast to a song chorus.
Written by Gary Ewer, author of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 6-ebook Bundle.
- It offers a third melody for listeners, helping to solve the boredom that might happen with verse-chorus repetition.
- It often completes a song lyric.
- It allows the song to explore new tonal centres (i.e., it either changes key or focuses on a chord other than the tonic).
More than that, song bridges also give opportunities for the general energy level of the music to heighten. It’s common in a bridge for the music to reach a climactic peak, before returning to the chorus for the final chorus repeats.
In short, song bridges can be very effective, as long as they provide a good sense of contrast to the chorus. In that regard, the bridge may be a place where song energy is allowed to dissipate if the chorus is already sufficiently intense.
This can happen in a subtle way, and Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” is a good example. The chorus features a high-pitched melody, full and loud instrumentation and a strong chord progression. For the bridge, you notice:
- The melody moves down slightly from the chorus level.
- The vocal style relaxes somewhat.
- The instrumentation becomes lighter and more transparent.
And at the end of the bridge, you hear an increasing of musical energy which happens by the melody moving upward again, the vocal style intensifying, and the instrumentation building.
It’s a good option for a bridge in a song where the chorus is powerful. So not only does the bridge offer a new melody, new lyric and new harmonies, it also offers a new contrasting approach to the basic energy of the chorus. The return to the chorus then represents a welcome return to musical intensity.
If your typical approach is always to use a song’s bridge to build and intensify the music, consider the alternative: for songs with an intense chorus, allow the music to relax, and use the last bar or two of the bridge to build back to the chorus level.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow on Twitter.
“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 6-eBook Bundle looks at songwriting from every angle, and has been used by thousands of songwriters. How to use chords, write melodies, and craft winning lyrics. (And you’ll receive a FREE copy of “From Amateur to Ace: Writing Songs Like a Pro.“)