Though the bridge is often thought of as a lost art in today’s modern pop music scene, one can’t deny the power of hearing a great, song-splitting key or chord change for the first time.
Think back to the first time you heard the iconic bridge to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the sound of Freddie Mercury’s incredible range — both in pitch and emotion — carrying you through the turmoil. Do you remember the chills it gave you? The excitement you felt?
Well, there are actually some pretty basic techniques used to write great bridges that can help you pack in that next level emotional punch. We’re taking a look at five of those right now.
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1. Choose Your Bridge’s “Purpose”
First and foremost, you have to decide what purpose your bridge is going to serve in the song. Are you looking to add a twist to the song? Are you switching perspectives momentarily to give the listener two sides to the song’s story? Or are you more focused on generating a melodic hook or chant that will get the audience singing with you?
Making a clear decision on the type of bridge you’re going for will help writing a killer one so much easier.
2. Introduce New Information
Now that you know its purpose, one of the most classic uses for a bridge is to bring new information to the table. This is partially because adding a new melody or thought this late into the song can draw your listeners attention back to it for reflection.
You can create this new information lyrically by inserting a heartbreaking twist, or turning to a new facet of emotion that has yet to be explored. For example, if it’s a breakup song, the bridge can reflect back on the good times (and offer a brief moment of ephemeral happiness).
But new information isn’t reserved only for lyrics. Take a look at what you’ve already done harmonically and melodically, and debate trying something completely new. Maybe try throwing in that weird, open-ended chord you were thinking about that didn’t quite make it into the verses; or explore a part of your vocal range you hadn’t used yet in the song.
No matter the method you try, that new information belongs right here, and will bring your listeners back into the song’s momentum right before the last big chorus.
Recoloring an old idea is as simple as it sounds. You can take another section or line from your song, and change one line, one very specifically-chosen word, or one note in the melody; and put a brand new spin on it. And Voilà! You’ve got it.
Your bridge then becomes the subtle turning point in the entire song, and you’ve barely done any complicated rearranging.
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4. “Same Old”
We’ve said a lot about changing up the song content that appears in your bridge — but sometimes all you need to do is repeat an iconic line or section to really hit home. So bring back that line in the verse you can’t stop thinking about, or that super catchy pre-chorus. Maybe even that harmonic II- V resolution.
In this way, the bridge can function like a microscope; one that focuses even closer on something that may have been passed over lightly back in the verses. This is your song, so anything flies if it feels right.
+ Read more on Flypaper: “4 Ways to Develop Your Musical Idea Into a Full Arrangement.”
5. Don’t Overthink It
The bridge isn’t the be all end all of your song. In most cases, these only appear once in a song and most people don’t focus too closely on it until the third or fourth listen, so try to do what feels right and not force some grand songwriting maneuver here.
If you change your mind later, you can always edit that part. But there’s something to be said for going on first instinct. Even if the bridge feels overly simple to you.
In fact, in today’s pop music you will rarely even hear a bridge at all, and if you do it’s likely to just be one line or a section that’s been copied and pasted from a verse or pre-chorus that we’ve already heard before. So really. Don’t overthink it.
Most importantly, please remember that songwriting is actually a very experimental art form. These are just tips to help you along your way. Experiment with different ideas, follow your ideas into their respective rabbit holes, and discover new pathways that work for you.
Continue learning with hundreds of lessons on songwriting, composing, home recording, electronic production, beat making, and much more. Explore Soundfly’s exciting courses like Modern Pop Vocal Production, Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords, and Kimbra: Vocal Creativity, Arranging, and Production.