A bridge section, sometimes also called the middle eight, is an optional section that usually happens after the chorus’s second appearance in a song, or after the second verse or refrain for songs that don’t use a chorus.
Songs With a Chorus
Verse – Chorus – Verse – Chorus – Bridge – Final Chorus Repeats
Verse – Chorus – Verse – Chorus – Bridge – 3rd Verse – Final Chorus Repeats (or Coda)
Songs That Are Verse-Only (or Verse With Refrain)
Verse – Verse – Bridge – Verse – Bridge – Verse – Coda
The trickiest part of writing the best bridge for your song is getting it to support the rest of your song, because if it’s not playing that important supporting role, it probably just sounds like aimless wandering.
So what do you do to make sure that your bridge makes sense, and properly supports the rest of your song? Here are some tips to follow:
- Start your bridge by making some other chord sound (temporarily) like a new key centre. One of the most common ways to do this is to start on the relative minor chord if your chorus is in a major key, or to start on the relative major if your chorus is in a minor key. So if your chorus is in C major, try working out a chord progression that starts on Am. You can also try Dm (ii) or F (IV).
- Use the bridge to answer all the questions posed by your verses. If there’s anything left unexplained or unknown, the bridge is the place to do it. If your bridge is followed by another verse (not so common), you’ll finish your lyric in that verse. But if the bridge is followed by the final chorus repeats (most common), the bridge is where the lyric will “allow the other shoe to drop”.
- Let the emotional content of the lyric fluctuate up and down. While verse lyrics are mainly observational and chorus lyrics are mainly emotional, try using the bridge to fluctuate quickly between observational lines and emotional reaction lines.
- Let the bridge either raise the musical energy of the chorus, or contrast it by going quiet. A bridge is a great place to place a song’s climactic moment, but if your song is the kind that’s quite energetic or powerful all the way through, you might want to consider using the bridge to quiet things down in preparation for the more exciting final chorus repeats. “A Thousand Years” (Christina Perri, David Hodges) is a good example of this.
- Think more about how a bridge connects back to the rest of the song than how it starts. A surprising or “unprepared” start is completely fine. But most of the time, you want to think about how the bridge connects back to whatever it’s connecting to. This is particularly true regarding the energy level of the song. So think about connecting the end of the bridge melody to the start of the final chorus, and how the final chord of the bridge connects to that chorus.
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