If you’re a songwriter, you probably have opinions on Bridge sections. Many of us tend to use only a couple of types of Bridges, and that might come from the songs that have influenced us. If you’re writing an ABBA song, the options are limited. You might hate Bridges and routinely skip them.
Either way, it might be a good chance to start thinking of what kind of Bridge sections support your song the most (or skipping the Bridge entirely). Every song has a story—even if it is a very short one—and we, as songwriters, are usually invested in telling the story properly.
There are older types of Bridges but also some modern ones that are popping up everywhere. Here are the different types you can try.
Note: in the most common song forms, the Bridge is the second-to-last section of the song. Read about song forms here.
This is probably the Bridge most people think of first. It’s usually the one used in an AABA song and probably the one all songwriting pros will recommend to write.
A traditional Bridge:
- Uses different chords than the rest of the song (or at least starts on a new chord)
- Presents a different perspective of the song (sometimes the opposite)
- Works up to the climax of a song and might contain the highest note of the song
- Might have a guest rapper that works in a new perspective
Why you might use a traditional Bridge:
- Helps keep your song in the structure of a story
- Breaks up the repetition of the Verses and Choruses, which a listener might be tired of hearing by then
This type of Bridge is used all the time but has definitely seen a decline. “drivers license” by Olivia Rodrigo is a great example of a recent song that uses a traditional Bridge.
A third Verse isn’t technically a Bridge, but it is used in many songs (especially folk songs). Ed Sheeran uses a third Verse in “Castle on the Hill” instead of a Bridge.
A third Verse:
- Sounds very similar (if not exactly the same) as Verse 1 and 2
- Can be a broken down/acapella section to create a different, confessional mood
- Either extends the story or offers a new perspective (like a traditional Bridge)
Why you might use a third Verse:
- To expand on the original story without building intensity
- There are many other sections (Pre-Chorus, Post-Chorus) that break up the sound of the song, so you don’t need a fresh sound for this section
- To highlight the storytelling nature of the song
An instrumental section:
- A guitar solo
- Vocalizing, or “oohs” and “ahs”
- Usually repetitive
- Typically uses the Verse chords or entirely new harmony
- Can build in intensity
Why you might use an instrumental section:
- A melody would build the intensity and support the emotion more than words would
- The song is fairly straightforward and doesn’t need more words
- Repeating a catchy riff that the listener hasn’t heard much of yet
Guitar solos aren’t as common as they used to be (Listen to “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran for a recent example) but “oohs” are used all the time. Billie Eilish and Khalid use a vocal section for their Bridge in “Lovely” that gives the listener a fresh sound and builds intensity.
Keep in mind there are also many types of instrumental sections, varying from playing on thematic riffs, virtuosic solos and new melodies altogether. Write this section based on what supports your song.
This section can transition into an instrumental section or mostly be instrumental in itself. It is a lot like an instrumental section but will repeat either the hook of the song or extend the Post-Chorus altogether.
An extended Post-Chorus:
- Repeats the hook over and over or extends the Post-Chorus
- Might be repeating the hook as lyric lines
- Might be mostly instrumental with the hook thrown in every four bars
- Usually builds in intensity with each repetition
- Might use the same chords of the Post-Chorus (but might not)
Why you might use an extended Post-Chorus as a Bridge:
- To get the hook line across as the most emotional statement
- To build in intensity as a storyline structure, but not adding to the story
- There isn’t another perspective to the story you want to add
Listen to “Keep Breathing” by Ingrid Michaelson to hear an example of this type of section. As in this song, a song might end on this section because it is so similar to a Post-Chorus.
This type of Bridge is similar to extending the Post-Chorus, but it does not use the hook or Chorus lines. Instead, this type will use new lines altogether.
A repetitive Bridge:
- Uses one or two lines and repeats them several times
- Can either use chords from a previous section or new harmony altogether
- The repetition almost always builds intensity
- The lines can support the main idea expressed in the Chorus OR express a new perspective
Why you might use a repetitive Bridge:
- To get a new (but short) idea across
- The song might not need a new idea but needs a new sound
- To build intensity with this new idea/the main idea
Listen to “Honeybee” by The Heart And The Heart. They use the lines “Won’t you decide? / I want you to soar / Don’t doubt anymore” to build their Bridge section. The harmony isn’t extremely different from their other sections, but is different enough that it sounds new to our ears.
Repeat the Pre-Chorus
Many artists are choosing to use their Pre-Chorus as the Bridge, in several different ways. Listen to “A Little Bit Yours” by JP Saxe—he repeats his Pre-Chorus, but adds another couple of lines to complete the thought and add a new perspective.
A Pre-Chorus as the Bridge:
- Repeats the Pre-Chorus in its entirely
- Repeats the chords/music of the Pre-Chorus but not necessarily the lyrics
- Extends the original Pre-Chorus
Why you might use a Pre-Chorus as the Bridge:
- The sentiment still applies
- To transition from an instrumental section to the last Chorus
- To build on the previous sentiment
- The Pre-Chorus chords still sound fresh
Skip the Bridge
Does your song really need a Bridge? Songs are getting shorter and shorter every day, so if your song doesn’t call for a Bridge, don’t use one.
Why you might not need a Bridge:
- The song doesn’t need a new perspective
- The other sections are long and complex enough
- The song is already long enough
Listen to “Fix it to Break It” by Clinton Kane. All of his sections Verse/Pre-Chorus/Chorus are so long that by the time he gets to his second Chorus (which is a double Chorus anyway), the song feels really complete. Some people might actually repeat their last Chorus twice to have that feeling of finality.
It’s important to look at what songwriters are doing nowadays, but always look at what your song needs. The Bridge should always support your song and the emotion that comes across, and sometimes, less is more.