What is the Bridge of a Song? How to Write a Great One

All of my early songs were written without a bridge. The main reason is I didn’t know what a bridge was and even if I did I wouldn’t know how to write one. With time and study I came to understand the technique involved. I wrote this article to help you understand what a bridge is, its function, and to learn how to craft one of your own.

The bridge of a song is part of the song structure that introduces a new point of view to the main message of the song. The bridge offers the songwriter an opportunity to insert a twist to the story, lyrically. The melody is also different than the verse and chorus melody.

Analogy of a Song Bridge

To better understand what a bridge in a song is and how it operates, take a little drive. Imagine driving along a route that you’re familiar with. Maybe it’s a road out in the country that you take to visit a family member. You’re very familiar with this route and your brain usually goes on auto pilot to get there.

One day you’re driving along and notice a side road that looks interesting. You have some extra time so you decide to turn on to it. You drive up into the hills and pass by beautiful farms with freshly painted white fences, majestic horses, shimmering fish ponds, and maybe a beautiful forest tree line as a backdrop. You’re soaking in all the beauty when, before you know it, you come to an intersection.

It’s the main road that you had been traveling on, just a little closer to your destination. You feel happy that you decided to take that side road. Had you not, you would never have witnessed the beautiful scenery that was hidden off the main road.

Basics of The Bridge of a Song

A song bridge is similar to that side road. You can decide to take it or not. Your job as a songwriter is to know if your song would benefit with a change of scenery. Should you decide it would, it’s vital that you make it worthwhile for the listener. Don’t lead them down a road to nowhere, or off a cliff!

The bridge provides a temporary detour for your listener. They are still on the same journey but get to view the scenery from a different perspective.

The location of a bridge in a song should be anywhere it works best for your particular song. Typical placement is between the second and third choruses. (V)erse, (C)horus, (V)erse, (C)horus, (B)ridge, (C)horus. But like I stated, anywhere it works best for your song is where it belongs.

Structure of the Bridge of a Song

A bridge can include lyrics or be an instrumental section. The purpose of a bridge is to provide a different perspective than what the verses and choruses portray. It enhances what they have already communicated, in its own unique way. This can be achieved through the use of a combination of contrasting rhythm, melody, chord structure, and dynamic feel. You have many options to work with while building your bridge.

Song Bridge Rhythm
You know when you’re listening to a song and can’t help but tap your foot, or your hand to your leg, and your head is bobbing to the beat? You are in the groove of a pleasing rhythm. Have you heard the second hand of a clock ticking? I don’t know about you, but to me, it can get to be an annoying sound very quickly.

Our ears crave variation. Not just in a drum beat, but also how the other instruments and vocals are carrying the tune. If a bridge is introduced we will notice the change and hopefully, it will have its own pleasing rhythm. One that will drive us back to the original rhythm in a seamless way.

One example of an effective bridge is from the Beatles song, “No Reply” The bridge starts at 1:03. Go give it a listen. I suggest listening before and after to understand how they crafted the bridge to stand out from the rest of the song. Notice how they introduce hand claps on the quarter notes and piano hits on the eighth notes in the bridge. The guitar is deliberately strummed in a different pattern. Once the bridge ends they return to the rhythm that was established early on in the song. This is a great use of a bridge. The Beatles used bridges quite often.

Song Bridge Melody
If you’re going to include a bridge in your song you should write the melody different than the verses or choruses. The main characteristic of a bridge is differentiating itself from the other sections, and the melody is not excluded from that mandate. You can make the melody rise above the other sections to introduce a more upbeat or positive feel (subject to your lyric, of course).

On the other hand, you may want to bring the emotion down a notch with a more somber feel. Notice how John Denver’s song, “Take Me Home Country Roads”, takes on an even stronger nostalgic or melancholy feel when it hits that minor chord to begin the bridge. You can listen to it  HERE

That is an example of a bridge contributing to the overall listening experience.

Song Bridge Chord Structure
A common tactic for arranging the chord structure of a bridge is to land on a minor chord if the rest of the song is in a major key. And vice versa. In the John Denver song we looked at above, the chorus ends with the A chord (which is the key of the song) then drops down to the F#m (vi chord) to begin the bridge. The chords in the bridge are pretty much the ones used throughout the rest of the song, just arranged in a different order.

There is one chord, a G major chord, that is used only once in the entire song, and that is when the word “road” is sung in the bridge. That’s a wonderful use of an “outside” chord (or borrowed from another key) to enhance the feeling of the song. You are not limited to the chords that were previously used in the song. The ultimate goal is to improve the song. Use whatever chords you can find that make the song sound great.

Dynamic Range of a Song Bridge
Simply put, a song’s dynamic quality is the varying degree to which it gets loud or quiet. Changing your song dynamic in the bridge could result in pleasing contrast. If the rest of your song is plowing through with a wall of instrumentation and a driving beat, switching it up in the bridge might give the listener a chance to catch their breath for a few bars. You can then jack it back up by returning with an exploding chorus. Variety is one way to keep the listener engaged with your song.

Song Bridge Examples

Here is a song that I co-wrote called, “Christmas Crazy”. Read through the lyrics to get the general message of the song. Pay special attention to the bridge at (2:05). You can listen to the song here:

Christmas Crazy
© Greg Swartzentruber/Ronnie Lee Hurst

(verse 1)
Grandpa hangs the mistletoe where no one else can see
Any girl who passes by he’ll smooch on instantly
Triples his electric bill with his display of lights
Sings Christmas carols way off-key with all his Christmas might

Grandpa’s goin’ Christmas Crazy
He’s bursting with the spirit
Everyone can hear it
Grandpa’s goin’ Christmas Crazy
Mistletoe’s a-swinging
Christmas bells are ringing
It’s rather quite amazing
Grandpa helps us all go … Christmas Crazy

(verse 2)
Grandma’s baking overtime, there’s cookies everywhere
Fills our cups with eggnog tries some brandy on a dare
Spent three months of pension checks on gifts for everyone
Backs Grandpa on piano and she even dances some

(chorus 2)
Grandma’s goin’ Christmas Crazy
She’s bursting with the spirit
Everyone can hear it
Grandma’s goin’ Christmas Crazy
Goodies that she’s bringing
Christmas bells are ringing
It’s rather quite amazing
Grandma helps us all go … Christmas Crazy

There’s really nothing wrong with all the holiday extremes
As long as we remember what Christmas really means

(chorus 3)
Let’s all go Christmas Crazy
Bursting with the spirit
So that everyone can hear it
Let’s all go Christmas Crazy
Show the joy it’s bringing
Get those Christmas bells a-ringing
Let’s make it quite amazing
Come on now let’s all go … Christmas Crazy

Let’s Review

Notice how we remained with the “over the top” Christmas theme? How, in this bridge, we state there’s nothing wrong with it (over the top theme), but then add, “As long as we remember what Christmas really means”. We provided a different angle or perspective to the song. And we didn’t state what Christmas really means, we left that up to the listener to apply that to their own beliefs.

Next  Song Bridge Example (Different Placement)

Earlier I stated that the bridge of a song is usually placed between the second and third choruses. However, I then stated that wherever it works best for your song is where it should go. This next song is one I co-wrote where we placed the bridge at the very end of the song. Read through the lyrics and see how we treated the bridge.

It’s Been Way Too Long
©Bill Osofsky/Ronnie Lee Hurst

I’m not really sure should I pull you a little bit closer
The voice in my head tells me “no”, but your perfume says “yes”
I can’t help but melt in your arms as we sway to the music
And you got me believin’ I just might be ready for this

It’s been way too long since I dared to let somebody love me
Way too long since I just threw it all to the wind
But the touch of your cheek on my cheek feels too good to be wrong
And it’s been way too long

It isn’t your fault that my heart is a little too cautious
It’s been burned before and it pulls me away from the flame
But Your fingers so light on my neck sends a chill through my body
And the hunger I see in your eyes says you’re feelin’ the same


You don’t have to promise forever to me
Just a chance to discover how good this could be
Cause I think that we just found our song
And it’s been way too long
It’s been way too long
It’s been way too long

Let’s Review

Do you see how we included a different perspective with this bridge? Throughout the song, the two characters are hesitant to commit to each other and then the bridge provides a glimpse at a possible breakthrough with, “cause I think that we just found our song”. There is no complete resolution, but enough to make the listener wonder if they actually do get together. This example underscores my point about song bridge placement. If you use a bridge, insert it where it works the best for the song.


I’ve tried to share with you what a bridge in a song is, what it’s used for, and some ways to construct your own bridge. Hopefully, I’ve succeeded! I hope this article has armed you with more information than when you started reading. Go practice building bridges for your songs.

The beauty is that you are not required to use them if you don’t want or need to. However, it would be good practice for you to just give it a try. Open up one of the previous songs that you’ve written and write a bridge for it.

Find the lyrics to one of your favorite artist’s songs that don’t have a bridge and write one for it. See if you can introduce a different angle without changing the message of the song. This is only for practice. I don’t recommend posting what you come up with because of copyright issues.

Again, this could be just for practice. It will give you more experience for when the time comes that you actually need to include a bridge in a song. As always, the key is to keep writing, and writing, always striving for that great song.

Ronnie Lee Hurst

Hello! I've been a singer/songwriter for years and have a passion for crafting a new song. I also want to help teach the craft to new songwriters coming along.

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