Song Structure

Pre-Choruses & Bridges

By Jason Blume

Within a verse, there may also be a pre-chorus-a two or four line section, rarely exceeding four bars musically, immediately preceeding the chorus. It is crafted to propel the listener, both melodically and lyrically, into the chorus.

The pre-chorus is optional. However, if the first verse includes a pre-chorus, all subsequent verses typically also include a pre-chorus section. The pre-chorus is sometimes referred to as the lift, the channel climb or B-section.

  • All pre-choruses in the same song have the same melody.
  • It is acceptable for each verse's pre-chorus to repeat the same lyric or to introduce a new lyric.

The bridge serves as a departure or a release from the rest of the song. It usually consists of two or four lines of lyric, and four or eight musical bars. The bridge's job is to add a new dimension to the song, take it to the next level, and lead the listener back to the chorus, title and hook, from a new angle. If that's not enough of a challenge, the bridge needs to accomplish all of this while still managing to sound consistent with the rest of the song.

When using a structure that includes verses and choruses, the bridge can occur in only one place-between the second and third choruses

(Verse--Chorus--Verse--Chorus--Bridge--Chorus). When utilizing the A-A-B-A song form, the bridge will be between the second and third verse. (Verse--Verse--Bridge--Verse).

The bridge is a release or departure, both lyrically and melodically, from the sections that surround it. Note that outside the United States, the bridge is sometimes referred to as "the middle eight."

Lyrically, the bridge presents an opportunity to add a new dimension, a new perspective to your story. It is your last chance to lead the listeners back to your title and make it pay off one final time.

The tools that can help differentiate your bridge lyrically from the rest of the song are:

  • Revealing an added element to the story that ties it together.
  • Changing the person-from I to She or He.
  • Switching from specific, detailed imagery to general statements.
  • Alternating the time frame-looking back on the past
  • Disclosing a surprise

Musically, effective bridges may add an element of contrast by:

  • Introducing one or more chords that haven't been used previously.
  • Changing the rhythm.
  • Using notes that are either higher or lower than those used in the other sections.

Additional guidelines for creating effective bridges:

  • Do not include the title.
  • Limit yourself to two or four lines of lyric.
  • Occasionally, bridges can be instrumental.

Copyright 1999 by Jason Blume.
From the book 6 Steps to Songwriting Success by Jason Blume. Published by Billboard Books, an imprint of Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, NY. Available where books are sold.