A lot of my clients have trouble writing their song’s bridge. It’s the one part of the song that breaks away from the rest, so it can definitely be tricky. Another problem writers tend to have is labeling their songs correctly. Lyric sheets need to be formatted so that your session musicians can understand them. Pitch sheets need to be labeled as well. Let’s dive into the bridge and straighten all this out!
What is a song bridge?
A song’s bridge is *usually* located before the last chorus and it either changes up the meaning of the song or adds to the story. It also changes melodically from the rest of the song. You also don’t have to have a bridge at all, or you can make it instrumental.
I included this in my list of terms because song parts are a common area of confusion amongst session musicians. It seems like we all have a different idea of what the parts of the song are called. I’ve had so many encounters where someone is asking me to sing the bridge, but they were talking about the pre-chorus (the part between the verse and chorus). We can have different terms, but in a studio setting, we all need to agree on what the parts are called.
How do I write a good bridge?
I mean, “good” is subjective, you know? I would suggest stepping away from what you’ve written so far. Take a day off from thinking about it. Come back to it and see what part of the story is missing. If nothing is missing and you like it as is, maybe just have an instrumental or don’t have a bridge. If you feel like the song needs an emotional boost, the bridge is the perfect place for it. You can either have it grow into a big emotional peak or fade into a soft whisper, followed by an explosive final chorus. You can try different things out to see what fits best!
Okay, I’ve written an awesome song bridge. How do I label it?
In order to avoid confusion, you can label your lyric sheets in caps, with INTRO, VERSE, CHORUS, etc and then we can all know what you mean when you mention the intro. I’ve also had clients give me lyric sheets with time stamps by each line, such as:
00:14 These are the lyrics to my fake song
00:29 Showing you how to label things
00:34 So you’re not wrong
So they can then say “at 29 seconds” and I can see the line they mean. I know this is a lot of extra work up front, but if you do it before heading to the studio, you’ll save a lot of confusion, time and ultimately money!
How do I label my song bridge for a pitch?
The lyric sheets you give your session musicians can be a lot less formal than pitch sheets. As long as we know what you mean, it’s fine. However, pitch sheets usually need to be formatted in a certain way. Here is SongTown’s method to formatting sheets. I’ve been told that the chorus should be indented once (like a paragraph, but every line indented), and the bridge should be indented twice. SongTown doesn’t have that, so maybe it’s a preference by certain publishers. However, the most important part is the clearly labeled, typed sheet. This is good for both session musicians and pitches!
This post was originally published on May 28, 2016.