A song bridge is technically just a section that bridges two sections together. A bridge can be a lot like a pre-chorus, which bridges the verse and the chorus together in a song. But whether you're using it between verses or between a hook and a verse, it adds flavor and change to your song to keep it from being too dull and repetitive.
A song bridge is a very complicated and beautiful thing. The bridge is actually my second favorite part of the songwriting process besides the hook. The bridge section of a song is where songwriters and producers can showcase their unique talents (and get in their creative bag)!
A good bridge brings new life and energy to a song while still seamlessly fitting into the previous and following sections.
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For the majority of my songs that actually include a bridge, along with my following chorus, it provides the climactic point for the flow of the song. I usually put a lot of variation and bring completely new ideas into the bridge in comparison to my verses, so it excites me and pushes me to be as creative as possible in this little masterpiece section.
A bridge typically lasts 8 to 16 bars in a song. Sometimes, you'll find a very short 4-bar bridge, but it's even rarer to find a bridge that is over 16 bars. If a bridge goes longer than 16 bars, it will likely begin to feel like the song segues fully into a different song, sometimes with a few of the same elements from the first song.
Most of the time, songwriters put the bridge right after the second chorus in their song. On rare occasions, the bridge can come after the first chorus, or on a longer song, it can happen after a 3rd chorus, meaning there were three verses instead of the more common two-verse structure that songs use.
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Back in my day, a bridge was a must. Songs were always over 4 minutes long, hooks/choruses repeated at the end way more times than you would think, and the vocalist (if we're talking sung songs and not rap or instrumental) sang their heart out in this part of the song. Harmonies, belting, passionate delivery; it had everything you wanted from a great singer.
Now, everyone's attention span is dangerously short. I recently put out a pretty cool soulful track by the name of "My Soulful Baby" that included a bridge that could also be described as a breakdown.
Toward the end of this bridge/breakdown section, I have a very climactic point that leads to the chorus, where I add some pretty powerful adlibs in the background to really give the end of the song some energy.
I contemplated not including this part at all, or just having a bridge that is the last part of the song without a chorus to follow. I didn't want the song to be too long, but the tempo of the track was slow compared to my other mid-tempo and upbeat tracks, so I figured it was only right that the song still gets the same amount of song structure sections.
Once I finished it, released it, and promoted it, I was anxiously awaiting responses from a handful of community and college radio stations that had previously accepted some of my other tracks. I just KNEW this one would have even more success and radio airplay, and that I could possibly get my highest amount of radio spins ever.
It turns out it got next to NO radio spins, thanks to an overlooked fact: radio stations don't want songs over 4 minutes long.
Back in the day, you could get away with a song on the radio that lasted 4 or maybe 5 minutes, but these days, the rules have slowly shifted. Radio stations want songs that are closer to 3 minutes.
I started to wonder, is this something that radio stations are doing only, or is everyone tired of long songs?
I decided to check out some statistics on my streaming sites like Bandcamp and Youtube, which can show the average length/duration of a full song or video that people are actually watching. As it turns out, less than half of all my songs are getting played on average.
I then decided to do some market research on other people's songs and videos to make sure that this wasn't just because my work is garbage or anything. Turns out, especially if you aren't a superstar, most people aren't playing your full song, even if they kind of like it.
Now that you know that bridges are beautiful, under-appreciated gems, it's up to you to decide how you want to use this song section to the best of your advantage.
Are you looking to increase your listen/watch time for your upcoming releases? Try skipping the bridge.
Looking to get radio play? Skip the bridge or create a radio edit version in addition to your original version that keeps your song under 4 minutes.
Looking to create a beautiful song for your album that isn't one of your singles? Put your whole foot into an amazing, climactic bridge that will hit someone with a full dose of passion and variety.
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As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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