Songwriter - guitarist

Pre-Chorus and Bridge: The Similarities and the Differences

The most recognizable section of practically any song will be the chorus. That’s because it’s likely to contain the “hookiest” part – the melodic/rhythmic idea that everyone will recognize. The verse melody is also going to be recognizable for the fact that it starts the song — it’s the first thing people hear.

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Many songs will contain other miscellaneous, optional sections. The bridge and the pre-chorus are the most common. Those two sections appear at different moments within a song, like this typical design:

Typical Song Form

There are ways in which a pre-chorus and bridge are similar, and ways in which they differ.

The Similarities

They are similar in the sense that they both:

  1. typically use a melody that’s different from the verse and chorus;
  2. typically use lyrics that differ from the verse and chorus;

The Differences

They differ from each other, though, because they fulfill different objectives within a song’s formal design:

The Pre-Chorus

You would opt to use a pre-chorus for some or all the following reasons:

  1. The verse melody is very short.
  2. The verse melody is very repetitious and simple.
  3. The last note(s) of the verse are quite far below the first notes of the chorus.

The Bridge

You would opt to use a bridge for some or all of the following reasons:

  1. You’re looking for a new melody, to provide a sense of variety within the song.
  2. Your lyrics are incomplete after the second chorus, and you need the bridge to finish those lyrics.
  3. You’re hoping to take the song, in a general sort of way, in a temporarily new direction.

Using a Pre-Chorus or Bridge

Often, how you design a song is a result of musical instinct: you’re working on your verse, and it just feels too soon for the chorus. You can hear in your musical mind that something else is needed, and you come up with that melody and lyric that fits the bill. It seems to happen without having to think much about it.

But there are other ways you can use your musical instincts. It might happen, for example, that you’ve got what you think is a completed song, but it feels unbalanced somehow, and you’re not particularly sure why.

In those cases, take the time to look at your song structure, and if you haven’t made use of a pre-chorus or bridge, consider what they might do for your song. Even a short pre-chorus or bridge might be all a song needs to sound right

Gary Ewer

Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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