Apr 30, 2009

Burning That Bridge

When it comes to commercial songwriting there are a few things that you can always count on. These aspects of songwriting include but are not limited to repeating hooks, catchy lyrics, and consistent structure. Most people recognize or relate with songs that contain more than one of these things without even thinking about it. More often than not, these components make or break a song, really, they are what commercial songwriting is all about.

As a songwriter, I write for enjoyment but I can't help but want people to enjoy my music as well. My listener's enjoyment always fits into the equation when I'm writing a song. I search my brain for meaningful and creative lyrical ideas, memorable hooks that make my tune recognizable, and I follow song structures that most popular songs have today. (Most popular songs of all time for that matter.)

When I say structure, I'm referring to the verse/chorus/verse/chorus route that is most common. It's really the most popular and accepted way to go, just turn on the radio or pop in your favorite cd. Even though there are so many other options I find myself falling back there every time. I don't see anything wrong with it right now, I just want to pump out quality tunes. But the big decision is what to do after that second chorus and most commonly becomes the downfall to most of my song ideas, especially of late.

This spot after the second chorus is a common place for a bridge. It's the part of the song that should tie together the song, basically creating a "bridge" from the main part of the song and connect it to the end. A bridge allows you to piece together your story giving closure and making sense to the meaning behind your ideas.

It's easy to try to add that bridge even when it's not needed just to fit that structure that feels so right. I've found the bridge is an easy fall back when you have no idea what to do next. Maybe throw in a couple of minor chords, hold out a couple of vocal notes, call it good and hit the chorus for the last time. But when is it right to burn the bridge and add a solo to build to an exciting climax or even another verse?

I fight with every song to make sure it's not the same as the last and keeping away from the imminent bridge is always a good start . You can follow similar structures and write songs that feel right without forcing parts that just don't fit. Knowing when not to force it is the important part and that's a battle that I'm fighting on a song to song basis. My intuition usually treats me well and I tend to follow it whenever I can. Get that intuition to pair with a little inspiration and we'll all be in business.

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