A song is constructed from different parts such as the verse, pre-chorus, chorus, often we encounter a bridge section but sometimes we even see two! I was wondering when and why this happens, here is the answer to the question can a song have two bridges?:
While having two bridges in a song is not that common there are multiple examples where a song does have two bridges also changes within the lyrical or musical spectrum are often present for to keep the listener’s attention. One of the key determining factors is of course, the overall song length.
This was the short version of it, now let’s explore the dynamics and “rules” that can guide us implementing the two bridges technique!
What is the function of a bridge in music
Before deciding if we should include one or two bridges we should be clear about, what is the purpose of a bridge in the world of music?
- A bridge is designed to keep the listener’s attention and have them wanting more.
- Typically a bridge is being used to prepare the listener for the climax.
- Often it includes elements that are in contrast with the rest of the song, In other words, we could say one of the functions of the bridge is to add variety.
- To build tension. Tension in the right amount is what keeps the listener listening if you can master the art of tension and release, your songs will improve dramatically.
We could compare the bridge to the turning point we see in a lot of movies when suddenly something unexpected happens that shakes our world.
When is one bridge enough
There are many popular song forms and if you look at today’s charts you will notice that most songs include a bridge section. When certainly not carved in stone there are a few criteria that could help us decide if we need to include one or more bridges in our song. One of the most determining factors is the length of the song. In general shorter songs tend to have no bridge when longer songs tend to have one or more bridges.
In the 80s and 90s, it was very common to have a bridge followed by an instrumental part which often included a guitar solo. Also, you would notice that many songs of that era were quite longer compared to today’s standards (about four minutes or more).
Also when deciding if we should add a bridge or not the overall variety of the track is very important. If our song already has enough variety going on including a bridge section may just make it tiresome and therefore have the opposite effect we seek.
When to use two bridges
Not every song is made for a double bridge, hell many songs are not even made for a single bridge, how to know this distinction you may ask? My experience has taught me that the fastest way to learn this technique is by trial and error. First of all copy the masters, find songs that you like, songs that have been successful listen to them carefully and figure out why they work so well.
A couple of questions to ask yourself
- What is the overall song length?
- How long is the first/second bridge?
- What is happening before the first/second bridge?
- What happens after the first/second bridge?
- Compared to our other song sections is the bridge longer or shorter?
- If there are vocals present, are they sung in a higher or lower register?
- What is the dynamic range of the bridge compared to the previous and next sections?
- Is the energy higher or lower, does the energy gradually increases as the bridge progresses?
- What are the main differences between bridge one and bridge two?
- Is the story envolving lyrically at the bridge section?
Later on I will provide with an example lists with songs that use a double bridge but for now, let’s talk about what we have to look out for when we’re considering adding a second bridge.
- Song length
- This is the most determinant factor, One of the biggest traps we could fall in to is to convey too much information to the listener. Popular songs tend not to be longer than 3 minutes some being even shorter That means that we barely can fit a verse a pre-chorus and a chorus, and if we are lucky a bridge.
- The overall dynamics
- tension release is essential! Having a song that is always in a high energy level to eventually going to become tiresome. They say that in music silence and sound are equally important, just listen to Prince’s song: Kiss, and you will discover that the reason the melody is so damn contagious is because he uses silence so effectively!
- We can add silence to our song by eliminating a few instruments or providing enough space between each phrase, with the right execution of this technique we can elevate our song and make it substantially better!
- I have studied this technique a lot but to be honest it took me some time in order to realize its importance identity to experiment with your own productions.
- Look at the charts
- Today’s charts can be a great source that provides us with insights regarding what the people like today. If let’s say nine of the 10 songs are shorter than three minutes, do not include a bridge at all then you probably wouldn’t want to go against the standards, that is if you are creating popular music.
- However sometimes by adding elements that are not present at the top 40 charts, we can create contrast that helps us distinguish our song from the pack.
How to write a bridge
As I mentioned before in most cases we would want our bridge to stand out of the rest of the song, there are a number of ways to accomplish that, I will list below a few of my favorites techniques.
- Position your bridge after the second chorus
- Contrast the bridge lyrically and musically to the rest of the song
- Energy levels. Make sure the bridge has higher energy than the verse but lower energy than the second and third chorus.
- Change the chord progression
- Use the VI or V chord. If the chorus starts on the tonic (I) when ending the bridge use the dominant (V) or subdominant (IV) to lead the bridge into the last chorus section with maximum impact.
- Reach outside the key. An example would be if the song is written in C major you can open the bridge section in a C minor, that simple change creates a big impact.
- Shift register. Going lower or higher in the bridge compared to the rest of the song can have a significant impact on the listener.
Examples of songs with two bridges
Below follows a list of songs that have two bridges, click on the link below to listen to the songs on Spotify.
Please consider the year each song was released as some of them are over 40 years old (!) nevertheless we can still learn and distill techniques that have been used in these tracks, happy listening!
Happy by Pharell Williams
Bridge 1: “Happy, happy, Bring me down…”
Bridge 2: “Happy, happy, Bring me down…”
Bad Romance by Lady Gaga
Bridge 1: “Walk walk fashion baby”
Bridge 2: “I don’t want to be friends”
Judas by Lady Gaga
Bridge 1: “wear ear condom next time”
Bridge 2: “Jesus is my virtue”
Born This Way by Lady Gaga
Bridge 1: “Don’t be a drag just be a queen”
Bridge 2: “No matter black white or beige”
Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy by Queen
Bridge 1: “Ooh, let me feel your heartbeat”
Bridge 2: “When I’m not with you, think of you always”
Things We Said Today by Bob Dylan
Bridge 1: “Someday, when we are dreaming…”
Bridge 2: “Me, I’m just the lucky kind…”
Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys
Bridge 1: “I don’t how but she takes me there…”
Bridge 2: “Got to keep those loving good vibrations…
Kitty’s Back by Bruce Springsteen
Bridge 1: “ Keyboard solo”
Bridge 2: “Kitty is back in town, Kitty is back in town”
Lola by The Kinks
Bridge 1: “Well, we drank champagne and danced all night…” (a bridge which is repeated later in the song with different lyrics: “Well, I left home just a week before…”)
Bridge 2: “I pushed her away, I walked to the door…”
I’ll Be Back by The Beatles
Bridge 1: “I love you so, I’m the one who wants you…” (repeated with different lyrics later in the song: “I wanna go but I hate to leave you…”)
Bridge 2: “I thought that you would realize…”
Miss You Nights by Cliff Richards
Bridge 1: How I missed you, I’m not likely to tell…”
Bridge 2: 2) Lay down all thoughts of your surrender…”
If you listen to the songs you will notice that there are only a couple of them under the three-minute mark. As we discussed before even three minutes is quite a short time for to add to bridges, therefore, I must say all the songs in this list whether they are long or short are masterfully crafted.
How often do we encounter two keys in a song
Key modulation within a song was performed quite often in the past especially in the power ballads of the 80s and 90s, nowadays we rarely encounter a key change in the songs we hear on the radio. Nevertheless, it still remains a powerful technique, when used wisely it can generate outstanding results.
There are a couple of rules when one to impose key modulation, these are:
Modulating to a parallel key
short example modulating from a G major to a G minor since G minor is a parallel key of G major.
Modulating to a relative key
Modulating from a C major to A minor,
a D major to a B minor
or from an E minor to a G major.
The theory behind this technique is that when our root chord is a major chord we have to simply have to find the sixth chord and modulate to that one. Thats why the C major – A minor example.
Or if our root chord is in minor we have to find the third chord based on our root. Therefore the example of Em-G major
Modulating in a stepwise motion
Modulating a stepwise motion simply modulating up a step either a half or a whole step. An example would be “Love on Top” by Beyonce, a truly amazing song!
Can a song have two different choruses?
Yes, a song can have two different choruses but finding a song like that is very rare if not non-existent since it doesn’t fit the commercial standards, however, there are several examples in the EDM scene where the second drop/chorus is different than the first drop/chorus.
An example would be:
“Beats Knockin” by Jack U
If you can think of other songs with two different choruses or drops please mention them in the comment section below 😉
I hope this guide helped you decide if it’s worth it to add a second bridge to your song, and what to consider if you choose to do so! Bellow, you can leave a comment with your thoughts.