Monday, July 14, 2008

Mommy, What's A Bridge?

The NY Times ongoing blog about songwriting, Measure For Measure, discusses the concept of "bridges" today. I love writing a good bridge into my songs, although sometimes, as the articles says, a song works without them. In one of the songs from "Pantheon," called "War By Default" (which is a rewrite of "Cool By Default") I leave out both bridges and choruses and just go with what one could call a musical version of a "run-on sentence."

There is no one way to write a song. But knowing all the different parts that songs can contain can help a new songwriter inject variety into a song that isn't working.

My favorite bridge that I ever wrote is in the song "Going It Alone" from The Last Session. It's the section that goes, "But is it such a lonely battle / Have I been so wrapped up in myself? / What about what you've been through as well..."

In writing the music for that, I went to a first inversion of the root chord, then up to the first inversion 2, which then moves to the first inversion 5 with a passing tone, so that the bridge never feels like it settles into anything too "pat." It's one of my favorite chord progressions because it's so simple and yet lush sounding and tentative. In fact, you can play the whole thing with just three fingers. A child can play that bridge.

But what it does is take the song from where it's been residing, lifts it into another place and then brings it back home when you get back to the A section.

I love simplicity, but simplicity with a little edge. In fact, that's the way I love to live life.

Simplicity with a little edge.
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