Most songs in the same genre categories especially usually have a very similar song structure. This is because even though creativity and uniqueness is paramount to the success of a song, it is undeniable that there are forms in which songs exist that are already conventionally acceptable to the general listener. For instance, most songs always have two verses and a chorus. It is conventional. Songs without these exist, but they can be considered as rare occurrences in comparison with the multitudes of songs that exist with them. In the same vein, bridges are also considerably very popular in the structure that most songs take. Songwriters generally have in mind when writing songs to include a verse, a chorus, a second verse, a repeated chorus, a bridge and then the chorus one last time.
A bridge may be defined as a structure that creates a pathway over an obstacle. It’s a transporter that gets us from one point to another easily, efficiently and effectively. Bridges are mostly used in reference to terminologies across building infrastructures. But by it’s understanding, the meaning of a bridge in musical terms isn’t so different from it’s widely accepted meaning. In music (according to wikipedia), especially Western popular music, a bridge is a contrasting section that prepares for the return of the original material section. In a piece in which the original material or melody is referred to as the "A" section, the bridge may be the third eight-bar phrase in a thirty-two-bar form (the B in AABA), or may be used more loosely in verse-chorus form, or, in a compound AABA form, used as a contrast to a full AABA section.
You might be wondering how a word so widely popularised by its use in infrastructure and buildings got linked with music terminologies. Well, it is worthy to note that bridge as used in music comes from it’s German interpretation, Steg, which was used by the Meistersingers of the 15th to the 18th century to describe a transitional section in medieval bar form. It became popular in the 1920s through musicologist Alfred Lorenz’s exhaustive studies of Richard Wagner's adaptations of bar form in his popular 19th-century neo-medieval operas. The term however entered the English lexicon in the 1930s - translated as bridge - via composers fleeing Nazi Germany who, working in Hollywood and on Broadway, used the term to describe similar transitional sections in the American popular music they were writing.
For as long as we may mostly remember, it’s become a tradition and normal practice to include a new segment in a song, a bridge, at about two-thirds of the way through it. The idea has been to give the listener a needed new form or a different take from the already existing verses and chorus so as to avoid the song sounding monotonous to the listener, as well as creating and providing another layer of emotional attachment to the message the song poses to pass across to the listener. As such, bridges in most popular western music are found usually after the second chorus and transitions the song into the final chorus. John Legend’s All Of Me has it’s bridge starting from the lines “give me all of you, cards on the table and both showing hearts..” Pharrell Williams has us singing “Bring me down, can’t nothing…” in his 2013 hit song, Happy. Even in the song “We Are the World,” Michael Jackson sings “When you’re down and out…” to start the bridge.
Evidently we see that the bridge usually gives the song a huge variation from what we have been listening to in the previous sections of the song. This difference can also create a form of attachment to us the listeners, thereby holding a special place in our hearts. In some songs, it may not even be the easiest to remember when singing. But most bridges have been written to carry the deepest feelings a song possesses and usually might be the hardest hitting. It doesn’t help any differently that it may be the only part of the song you hear once in the entire listening experience. So to hear it, you have to listen all over again.
So far we have been able to discuss the importance of bridges in songs. We have also noted how popular they are and how conventional they’ve become. Perhaps you’re a new songwriter and you’re thinking to yourself that you must plan out a bridge while working on your next new song, or on every other song you write. We would like to let you know that while that may be a good idea depending on the song itself, bridges are not exactly a necessity for completing a song. There have been a considerably huge amount of released records that have become successful without having a conventional bridge. So while writing that new song, it’s best to remain open-minded for the most interesting possible ideas that can be inspired by you.
Aside from bridges, there might also be other song elements that you can take note of to help you not get stuck or too fixated on finding the right bridge. Solos for instance have proven to be useful additions to songs in the past. Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself has a very remarkable trumpet played in place of the bridge that keeps listeners engaged. Some songs basically recycle and repackage other parts of the song into the bridge position. This could appear in the form of a repeated intro, repeated pre-chorus, or just an instrumental variation of the verse. Dynamic shifts in the song can also be employed to give the sort of variation sought after by bridges. Simply using volume and dynamics to create a sense of change while reinforcing the chorus melody could be what your song needs. Or it could just be an acappella rendition of the chorus or pre-chorus. Anything to help create that feel works perfectly.
Finally it is also very possible to have songs without a bridge. Like we noted earlier, it’s not compulsory. Whatever you think works best for your song is what you should do with it. There are tons of great songs especially in this Tik-Tok era that have done extremely well without bridges. In situations where you’re not sure, working with professionals can also help you make the right calls. Tunedly prides itself as one of the foremost online recording studios with some of the most stupendously talented musicians in the world, whom you can work with at any time from anywhere in the globe.