Bridge: A Transition Between the Parts of a Song

Posted on September 6, 2022

The song structure in pop music consists of different parts that act as building blocks for creating a captivating and catchy song. One such part of a song is the bridge. This part is often overshadowed by the chorus or verses that drive the song forward. However, take away the bridge section, and the song wouldn’t be the same. Let’s find out how to recognize the bridge of a song and review some good examples of song bridges.

What is a bridge in a song?

As its name suggests, the bridge section of a song acts as a sort of bridge between two different sections, often the second and third chorus of the song. A bridge can also act as a transition between the verse and the chorus. One function of the bridge is to add variation and bring some much-welcomed change to the repetition of verses and choruses.

In addition to just offering variation, the bridge in a song may also add completely new elements or take the song in a different direction. The bridge is sometimes referred to as the “middle 8.” This is because the bridge often occurs in the middle of the song and is usually eight bars in length.

How is the bridge used in a song?

As mentioned, one of the main tasks of a song bridge is to change things up and bring contrast to the other sections of the song. Even though bridges are usually quite short, you can do a lot with a song bridge that’s written and timed just right.

Add new instruments

The bridge can be used to add new instruments to the song as well. Want to bring some upbeat sounds of the ukulele into the mix or slow things down with a piano? The bridge of a song is a good place to do this.

Add a new chord progression

Changing the song’s chord progression is one way to add variation and bring contrast to previous parts. For example, if the song is in major, write a chord progression that’s in minor, or the other way around.

Change the song’s tempo and rhythm

You can change things up by slowing the song down during the bridge or add some energy by increasing the tempo. However, as with all changes during the bridge of a song, try to make sure that the changes fit the song and don’t feel out of place. If the contrast to other song parts is too great, it can be jarring to the listener.

Build up towards the next section

The bridge is a great place to create a sense of anticipation towards the following part of the song, such as the final chorus or the next verse. Start things slower or quieter than during the previous section and gradually get the listener engaged by having the song grow louder or faster.

Add a new twist to the song’s story and lyrics

The purpose of song lyrics is to tell a story. Use the bridge to take the song lyrics in a new direction and use it for storytelling. Especially when the song’s chorus often repeats the same lyrics, the bridge can be used to add a surprising twist.

What is an example of a song bridge?

Let’s look at some good examples of song bridges in popular music.

Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys

The song Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys is a well–known example of a song that has a surprising bridge section. The song’s chorus transitions quite unexpectedly into a slower bridge that then evolves into an ever slower second section before returning to the chorus once more. This is a great example of a bridge that hooks the listener by creating a contrast to other sections with its bridge.

Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers

A song bridge that creates contrast by stripping down the song’s instrumentation can be found in Bill WIthers’ song Ain’t No Sunshine. The song lyrics during the bridge consist of Bill repeating the phrase “I know” while only the drums play in the background. After the bridge is over, the other instruments return to accompany the vocals and drums.

(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding

The bridge in (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay by Otis Redding is used to add some more intensity to the vocals. In other sections of the song, Otis’ vocals are laid-back and controlled until the bridge section comes around. During the bridge, the vocals show more emotion, accompanied by some guitar and horns. Another good example of contrasting the bridge with other parts of a song.

Learn about the song bridge and other music terminology

Read more about song structure and other concepts in our complete Musician’s Glossary article. Make sure to also check out our guide to songwriting and song structure.

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