Writing a song is a meticulous process. There are artists who dedicate their entire lives just to being the best songwriters they can be. They’ll spend hours, days, weeks, months, and sometimes even years trying to perfect just one song. This is all because, when it comes down greatest mixers, most brilliant musicians, and it will all be for nothing if the song itself isn’t good.
Fundamentally, there are no set rules for what makes a good song. Many people will say that the best songs are the ones with a typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus song structure. But where does that put songs like Mr. Brightside by The Killers? It was released in 2004, yet is still commonly found in the top 100 songs in the UK. It has the longest-running streak in the UK Top 100, reaching 260 weeks. Clearly, this song is a masterpiece, but from it’s song structure, you wouldn’t expect that. The song is essentially one long verse, repeated twice. How it succeeded in lasting that long in the charts is an absolute enigma to many songwriters, yet they can’t deny that the song is incredible.
So if there aren’t any rules in the world of songwriting, why pay attention to song structure? The reason is that generally, abiding by song structure helps songwriters to execute a full musical and lyrical concept. Each part of the song has its own purpose to help the listener fully understand how the song works.
For many songwriters, the bridge is the most important part of this typical song structure. It’s the part that exudes finality, emotional poignancy, and the peak of musical expression. Writing a good bridge is often what separates a good song from a great one. The bridge is a critical part of a song, and using it right is extremely important to writing a masterful song. Here is what the bridge is and how to use it right.
Table of Contents
What is a Song?
To understand what a bridge is, it’s critical to first understand what a song is. Of course, we all know songs, but what makes a song a song?
There are three elements to a normal song; the lyrics, the melody, and the harmony. The lyrics are the words that the song is singing. These serve to give the music a defined purpose and tell the listener what the song is about in as direct or abstract a way as the songwriter desires.
The melody is the leading notes that the song communicates its lyrics or instrumentation through. The melody is the sound that carries most prominently through the song, whether it’s delivered by a voice, a lead instrument, or a group of instruments.
The harmony is typically the chord structure of the song. This is usually delivered by the rest of the instruments in the song and helps to keep that song glued together and grounded.
What Are the Different Parts of a Song’s Structure?
Next, it is important to know what the different parts of a song are. These are the building blocks that put a song together and make it more than just a singer or instrument rambling its way through a composition. These elements are typically composed of the verses, the chorus, and the bridge. There are other song structure pieces like pre-choruses, interludes, and intros and outros, but those are typically used to modify and detail the main three parts of a song.
The verses of a song convey the narrative meaning of the song. These are where the story is told, the context is given, and the song’s meaning is mostly found. Verses are the place in a song where details are communicated and depth is created. The chord structure behind all the different verses is typically fairly similar, maintaining a sense of unity throughout the song.
The chorus of a song is the part that emotionally conveys the message of the song in an anthemic and evocative way. As famous musician Dave Grohl said, you should be able to “Think of it like a bumper sticker.” This is typically the most memorable part of the song. The character and quality of the song are typically found inside of the chorus.
And then, there’s the bridge. This is the part of the song where no holds are barred, and the songwriter tries to fully expose the heart of the song. It connects most fully to the listener and is the most vulnerable part. In terms of narrative purpose, the bridge is the end of the story. It’s where the final decisions are made, the battle’s result is decided, and the climax happens. The whole song builds to the bridge in an attempt to make this section of the song as impactful and purposeful as possible.
There are rarely verses after the bridge because it finalizes the song and there is no need to say anything else. Typically, the bridge is composed in a way where it takes all the lyrical and harmonic tension and builds up that intensity to a point where it’s almost going to burst. Then, when that final breaking point is reached, the tension is resolved with a final set of choruses to finish out the song. If music is all about tension and release, the bridge is the tension, and the chorus is the release.
There are a lot of incredible bridges in the world. The bridge to “Fix You” by Coldplay is one of the most famous examples of a bridge out there. The way that it builds to such massive heights just to resolve with a down chorus is a work of art in and of itself. The bridge in “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver is the emotional and musical climax to the song, unleashing all of the pent-up emotion that has been building up for the whole song. The bridge in “Creep” by Radiohead is incredibly simple, but the wailing voice and guitars come together to create a truly masterful piece of absolute vulnerability and honesty with the audience.
The bridge is the place where a song becomes more than just a song, but rather, an honest piece of art. Understanding the creation and purpose of a good bridge is what can take any song to masterpiece levels. Keep working at writing bridges, and you’ll soon start creating masterpieces yourself.
How Unison Can Help
If you’re looking for ways to help inspire and propel your songwriting further, check out Unison. Here, we have collections of tools to help create your next masterpiece.
Are you missing the “human” element to your tracks but don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars in the studio? Our Vocal Packs will take care of that in seconds to help elevate your music into professional-sounding beats that can become the voice of a generation.
Looking to amp up your workflow while making solid, relatable music is less time than ever before? Check out our MIDI Packs that will inspire your harmonies. Love using Serum but hating digging through all those bland, mediocre presents?
Our Serum Presets have the professional-quality presents you need for nearly every genre. Get studio-sounding presents without all the unnecessary legwork. We can inspire your songwriting with new sounds, helping make the little ditty in your head into your next big hit.
Check out how you can expand your voice as a producer here.
The Killers’ Mr Brightside claims record-breaking five years on the UK’s Official Chart | Official Charts
Music 101: What Is Harmony and How Is It Used in Music? | Master Class
Coldplay – Fix You (Official Video) | Youtube
What Is a Bridge in a Song and How to Use It | Icon Collective