Adult Guitar Lessons

Many songs have a "bridge" section. A bridge is the point in the song that "bridges" the first part of the song to the last by way of introducing something new and different than the verses (see "Songwriting - The Verse"), and the choruses (see "Songwriting - The Chorus").

A bridge can be lyrical or musical, and will typically be comprised of a chord progression that is unlike the verses and choruses.
header 6 02For the listener, the bridge serves as a place to "break the monotony" of the verses and choruses in the first part of the song, which leaves the final chorus sounding "fresh".

Bridge Lyrics

Lyrically a bridge will often summarize the theme of the song, but say it in a new way. Bridges are not normally just a continuation of the story line in the verses.

For example: If the verses of a song described how a man and woman met and fell for each other - and then the choruses said "I Could Never Love Anyone But You" - the bridge might summarize that theme by saying "You're all I see when I'm awake, You're all I see when I sleep".

The trick is to say what has been said - but in a new and fresh way!

Bridge Muscially

Musically, a bridge should go somewhere new as well. By introducing a fresh set of chords or a different slant on the main chord progression, the listener will hear the final chorus with "new ears" and will not suffer from "repetitive burnout", resulting in them switching channels!
fretting 02For example: A song that is based on a G, C, D, chord progression might, at the bridge, go to an Em or Am minor. Or, it might go to one of the chords in the progression and do a twist on those like a walk down to a minor chord. The possibilities are limitless, but a good bridge will normally lead naturally back into the first chord of the last chorus.

Bridge Timing

Another method for writing a good bridge is to change the timing sequence of the chord progression in the bridge to make it different than the rest of the song.

For example: If the chords for the verses and choruses change on the "one" beat of each measure, you might consider playing chords for the bridge that change more quickly - like on the "one" and "three" of each measure. Or on every beat of the measure, or on every other measure. You get the idea.

Bridge Ideas

Good bridges can be a challenge to write, but are a proven method of successful song structure. A good way to get some ideas for where bridges can go is to just listen to the radio and pay close attention when songs go to a bridge. One band that writes amazing bridges is the Eagles. Check out some of their stuff.
header guitar pic 2 01Sometimes when you have written a song that really works, that feels like it's ready to go - it can be easy to say "this song doesn't need a bridge". And it's true that some songs don't.

But it may be well worth it to explore the possibilities of incorporating a bridge into your song. It's a formula that works, and you may be surprised how much it will add to your song!

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

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Many songs have a component known as a "lift" or "pre-chorus".

The lift, or pre-chorus, typically follows a verse (see "Songwriting - The Verse") and serves as a lead-in to the chorus (see "Songwriting - The Chorus").
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Although a lift is basically an extension of the verse, it will normally differ from the verse musically, melodically and lyrically.

The Lift - Musically

Unlike a bridge (see "Songwriting - The Bridge"), which often goes in a brand new direction musically, the lift tends to stay in a similar musical "tone" as the verse.

The chord progression of a lift usually flows seamlessly from the verse to the chorus but is still different enough to signal to the listener that the song is moving to the chorus.

For example: If the verse of a song played back and forth from G to D during the verse, and the chorus started on a C, the lift might come in on an Am to a D before starting the chorus on C. That movement to the Am triggers a signal that the chord progression is coming to a change and allows the progression to move smoothly to the first chord (C) of the chorus.

The Lift - Melodically

In our discussion on song melody (see "Songwriting - Melody"), we talked about the fact that many times the melody of the verses will be subdued in comparison to the melody of a chorus that "soars".
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Quite often, the melody in the lift will raise slightly higher than the verse, but still remain lower than the chorus.
It is in this way that a lift has the effect of "lifting" the song from the verse up to the climax of the chorus. Hence the name "lift".

The Lift - Lyrically

The tricky part of a lift lyrically is to have it say something that reiterates what was said in the verse, but still lead into the message of the chorus.

The lyrics of the lift will often summarize the sentiments of the verse in such a way that it naturally brings the listener into the chorus. In many songs, the lyrics of the lift are repeated throughout the song.

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Add a Lift to Your Songs

When writing your own songs, try to add a lift where it feels right. You can often turn the end of a verse into a lift by just making a subtle change in the chord progression and/or melody.

The lift or pre-chorus is an effective way of setting up your choruses so next time you sit down to write, work on inserting a lift to spice things up a bit!

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

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As we discussed earlier, a typical song can be split up into various sections. (see "Basic Song Structure")

By learning how to dissect a song into various sections you can make learning other artists songs much easier on the guitar. In addition, you can use that knowledge and apply it to your own songwriting.
header guitar pic 2 01Today we will discuss the "verse" of a song.

The verse is the part of the song that tells the "story" of what the song is about. In the verses the main "character(s)", the song setting, the song time and place, or the theme is laid for the listener. It is the place for describing what the song is about.

The events or scenes in the verse should lead up to the big "payoff" which is the chorus. (see "Songwriting - Chorus")

Song Theme

The theme of the song should be clear from beginning to end and make sense to a listener without taking too many detours and confusing them.
header 6 02A great song starts out with a great opening verse. Within a line or two the listener has a pretty good feel for what the song is about. The opening verse does not have to give away any "surprises" that may come up in the chorus, but it should be clear from the beginning what the topic matter or theme of the song is.


Great verses will describe what is going on using images and details. "The click of the quarter rolling down the coin slot" draws the listener in more than, "he played a song on the jukebox".

The use of metaphors and simile in verse lyrics can be very effective in describing every day events in a fresh way.

Second Verse "Hell"

Let's say that you have written a great first verse. Everything is perfect. You have described the scene in a new and exciting way that is sure to get a listeners attention. The first verse leads naturally and seamlessly into the big chorus.

Everything is coming together, but then you make an attempt at writing the second first and, suddenly, you've hit a brick wall. No matter what you try, nothing seems to fit right.
lyrics 1This is what's known in Nashville as "second verse hell". What was once on the way to becoming a great song, gets stopped dead in its tracks. What do you do?

One common thing that pro writers do, if the first verse does not seem to be going forward, is to work backwards. Take the first verse and make it your second verse, then write a new first verse that leads up to the second verse.

The Theme Test

A common theme throughout the course of a song is essential for keeping the listener's attention. One popular way to check your song for continuity of theme is to check each line of the verses against the "hook".

Read the first line of the first verse and then say your hook all in one sentence. Does that one line mesh with what you are saying with the hook? When spoken out loud does that one sentence (verse line to hook) make sense? Do they all tie in together?

If not, if there is a break in the connection, it might be time to tweak your verse.

Then do the same process for each individual line of each verse. Put them all to the continuity of theme test.

If you discover that there is not one continuous theme throughout the whole song it will be hard to expect a listener to stick with you for three or four minutes.

Next time you sit down to write try to keep some of these things in mind. By making sure that your verses are doing their job, your chances of writing good songs will increase dramatically. Here are some great songwriting resources you may want to check out.

Nashville Songwriters Association International

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

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Every book you have ever read, every movie you have ever seen, every story you have ever heard, has a point where the anticipation builds and builds until it reaches a climax. The big "payoff" where everything comes together.

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The "Payoff"

In a song that climax, or "payoff", is known as the chorus. The chorus is the culmination of everything the song is about. The chorus is the big "aha" moment of the song.

Choruses can be long or short, they can be repetitive or just narrative, they can have a melody that jumps out at you, or can sound like an extension of the verses, they can be anything you want them to be but rest assured, just about every song has a chorus of some sort.

The "Hook"

Contained within most choruses is the "hook" of the song. (see "Writing the Hook) Quite often the hook is simply the title of the song.

Even if the hook is not the title, it is typically the part of the chorus that is most repetitive.

Some say the "hook" or title should repeat three times in the chorus to make sure it sticks with the listener. In some choruses, the hook or title comes up in the first line of the chorus, then not again until the last line.

No "Rules"

header guitar pic 1 02Keep in mind, there are no "rules", just general formulas and patterns that have proven successful in popular music.

If you were only able to work on writing one section of a song, it would most likely be the chorus.

This is the part of the song that the listener remembers most - largely because many choruses are repetitive to some degree.

Chorus Melody & Lyrics

The melody of the chorus is usually different than for the verses. In many cases the chorus melody will soar in comparison. Often times the chorus will begin on a different chord than the verse and will use a different variation of the chord progression than the verses.

Lyrically the chorus will normally surmmarize what the song is about. From a lyrical stand point the chorus says "this is what it is", and the verse says "this is how it got there".

A well written chorus will stay with a listener after hearing it only once or twice. Often, they will be able to sing along with a great chorus before the song is even over.

Starting with the Chorus

fretting 04Many songwriters use the chorus as the starting point. They focus all their energy on writing a solid  chorus before attempting the verses. Once the chorus is written they can then build the rest of the song around that.

If you are just starting out as a songwriter, try working on writing a good chorus - melody and lyrics - first. Then you have the foundation to start building the rest of the song around that.

Just remember that the chorus is the most important part of your song, so try to give it the attention it deserves.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

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