Audio: bridge (0:15)

Figure: bridge

bridge plays the bridge section, bars 17-24, of pop song. The bridge figure shows the score:

  • The key modulates from E in the verse to D in the bridge.
  • The key modulates from D back to E in bar 24.
  • The bridge consists of a single phrase containing a single sequence.
  • The bass line plays the sequence, a descending scale in D major.
  • The guitar plays arpeggiated chords.
  • The drums (not scored) play a contrasting rhythm to the verse.

A bridge is a section that links the verse and the chorus in a pop song.

A sequence is a generic term for a melodic, harmonic, or rhythmic pattern.

A pop song with three sections, as in pop song, contains a verse, a chorus and a bridge. The bridge is a section which links the verse to the chorus. It makes sense of what has gone before and provides a taster for what is to come.

A bridge is an optional feature in a pop song. When used, it is often instrumental. It provides an opportunity for musicians to show their prowess. It provides a good home for new melodies and new chords that add variety to a pop song. A bridge can contain new material or it can be a variant of existing material or it can mix new material with old.

bridge is eight bars long. A bridge can easily be extended by repetition. An extended instrumental bridge does not even need to be written in its entirety, all that is required is a chord progression, and maybe a melody too, and the singers and musicians can vamp (improvise) the rest and repeat as often as necessary.

A sequence can be a phrase or it can be an entire section. Sequencing is the process of playing around with the order of phrases and sections. It is one of the pleasures of writing pop harmony. It is especially easy with a sequencer, software dedicated to sequencing music. A verse can be repeated two, three or more times; a chorus can be repeated; and a bridge, which is usually used only once, can be repeated, especially in instrumental pop music. Two or more verses may follow each other in succession. A chorus may follow each verse or it may repeat at irregular intervals. A bridge might follow a verse or it might follow a chorus. Phrases within a section can be rearranged in any old order. There are all sorts of permutations.

bridge contains four new chords in addition to the familiar triad and dominant seventh:

  1. suspended chord (sus).
  2. add chord (add).
  3. major seventh chord (maj7).
  4. minor seventh chord (m7).

They are explained in more detail in the following chapters.

Before we leave the subject of a bridge, you might like to know that there is a pop song with a particular structure known as thirty-two bar form, also called ballad form. It spans 32 bars. It has two sections, a verse and a bridge (no chorus). Its shape is AABA where A is the verse and B is the bridge. The individual phrases are eight bars long, long enough to be classed as a section instead of a phrase. The bridge section B is called the middle eight, because it is eight bars long and it is in the middle of the song. Now, why a bridge is needed in the first place to link two identical verses is a very good question. Why the bridge is not called the chorus is another very good question. The answer is that it conflicts with verse-chorus form, which is another pop song format with an exotic name and which is different from ballad form. Confused? Join the club!