You could make a case for saying that no song needs a bridge, in the sense that there are other solutions at your disposal. Here’s what I mean by that:
One of the most important characteristics of any song is contrast. Audiences need to be able to hear some difference between, say, the verse and the chorus, however slight that difference might be. It might be a different chord progression, a different range for the melody, or, of course, different lyrics.
And as long as those differences are present, it’s possible to construct a song in such a way that a bridge isn’t strictly necessary, and many songs don’t in fact use a bridge.
And to look at the issue from the other direction, I’ve heard songs that use a bridge that I’ve felt wasn’t necessary, in a way that didn’t add anything valuable to the song.
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So how do you know if your song could or would benefit from including a bridge? Here are some suggestions to consider.
- If the chords of the verse and chorus are the same, or very similar. In that case, a bridge can offer a new “flavour” to your music. You’ll want to take your chords in a new direction– move into minor if your song is on a major key, or vice versa.
- If the melody “wants” to explore a higher range. If you don’t feel that the chorus melody provides enough of a climactic moment, you can do that with a newly constructed melody for a bridge.
- If the verse-chorus melody combination would sound boring if you repeated it for a 3rd verse-chorus.
- If the end of the lyric reveals an important concept, philosophical statement, or “other shoe dropping” kind of line. A bridge can, in those cases, draw a clearer line between the rest of the lyric.
- If you need to dramatically change the energy of the music, either higher or lower.
My own opinion is that the lyric should play an important part of the decision to use a bridge. Bridge lyrics need to stand out a bit from everything else.
In any case, how you know that a bridge is making a valuable contribution to your song is if it draws attention to itself in a subtle way… different without sounding so different that it doesn’t connect well to what’s come before or what follows it.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter
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