One of the reasons that you might add a bridge to your song is that it can make it just a bit longer, if all you’ve got is a couple of verses. So if, by the time you’ve reached the end of your second go-through of the chorus, you feel that your song would sound too short if you ended there, a bridge can help.
Sometimes you’ve got the melody, and you just need to know all the options for which chords would work with it. Here’s the eBook that will show you everything you need to know about how to add chords to a melody.
A song’s bridge bears a bit of resemblance to a verse in the sense that it typically uses a melody and lyric that’s different from the chorus. But there’s usually another important difference: it takes your song on a chord progression journey that contrasts with anything else you’ve heard before that point.
And most of the time, that journey starts in what would be called an opposite mode. This means that if your song’s chorus is in a major key, the bridge often starts out sounding minor.
Getting the Bridge Started
So let’s say that you’ve identified the need for a bridge, but you can’t get it started. Here are a couple of chord progression starters that will give you at least the first two chords, and from those two chords you can then create a more complete progression that will serve your bridge well.
Let’s say your song’s chorus is in C major, and the chorus progression ends with Dm-G (sounding like it wants to move on to C). The two progression starters that are practically always going to work for you are:
vi – ii (Am – Dm)
vi – FlatVII (Am – Bb)
Minor Key Suggestions
If your chorus is in a minor key, you’ll want to create contrast by starting a bridge perhaps with a major-key feel. So if your chorus progression ends with those same Dm-G chords (iv – bVII in minor key roman numerals), but sounding like it wants to move on to Am, try this as a bridge starter :
Flat-II – VI (Bb – F)
VI – III (F – C)
As you probably already know, once you get the first two chords, you can almost hear what might happen next, so do lots of experimenting. Just remember that all bridges come to an end, usually after eight bars (the so-called “middle-8”), so your progression doesn’t need to be overly long. Generally, it’s four bars in this new key, and then the next four bars you need to find a way back to the key or your chorus for those final chorus repeats.
Don’t forget that there are other considerations for writing a good song bridge. In addition to a unique progression, you’ll also need to write a lyric that offers a completion to the “story” (either literal or figurative) that has happened up to that point.
And regarding melody, a bridge is a great place to offer some sort of high, climactic point that gives your bridge an important role to play.
But even if you know all this, sometimes the problem is just getting started. If you’re stuck, just getting the first two chords can release the logjam and get your songwriting process moving again.
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