Songcraft: Take Me to the Bridge

OK, so your song has a catchy verse and a killer hook of a chorus. Now what? Throw in a solo section and call it a day? Maybe, but how about adding a bridge?

What is This Confounded Bridge?

Revered by experienced tunesmiths but often overlooked by novice writers, the bridge, or the middle eight as some call it (derived from its typical, but not set in stone, 8-bar length), is a songwriting device/song section that’s traditionally used to change things up mid-tune, breathing new life into the structure of a song.

Why Should I Take Anyone There?

After having given your listeners a few healthy doses of your song’s verse and chorus sections, your bridge provides you, the writer, with an opportunity to introduce your audience to a totally new chord progression, top-line melody and/or lyrical slant. This fresh, left-field addition to your tune’s architecture serves to recapture your listener’s attention while also giving them a bit of a break from your song’s main motifs.

Thanks to the bridge, your audience’s ears are now refreshed, their sonic palates are cleansed and they’re ready for one last go-around as you serve up that final helping of your tune’s verse, refrain, etc.

Many Bridges to Cross

In addition to changing up your chord structure, melody line or lyrical content, there are many other ways one can craft a bridge; How about switching time signatures or keys? What if you used a solely instrumental passage as a bridge in a song with lyrics? The possibilities are endless and limited only by your imagination.

Try It, It’s Easy

So, new writers, if you haven’t as of yet, try adding a bridge section to one of your latest tunes and see if it has a positive effect on your composition. Also, check out this example of a classic bridge in action, courtesy of the retro-tastic Commodores (Bridge section begins at 2:16 in. Lyrics listed below).

As always, build it (well) and they will come …

Bridge lyrics:

  • I wanna be high, so high
  • I wanna be free to know the things I do are right
  • I wanna be free, just me …

Mark Bacino is a singer/songwriter based in New York City. When not crafting his own melodic brand of retro-pop, Mark can be found producing fellow artists or composing for television/advertising via his Queens English Recording Co. Mark also is the founder of intro.verse.chorus, a website for songwriters dedicated to the exploration of that wonderfully elusive activity known as songwriting. Visit Mark on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

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