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I am a songwriter. I write Western Music - mostly in the Country genre.

Every song I have ever written has at least two verses and a chorus. I don't always add a bridge as I recognize that a bridge is not essential.

Sometimes I add a bridge and often it is the same length (usually 8 bars) as the verses. However, I have written several songs where (either through laziness, or because I felt it was enough) I wrote a bride that was only half as long as the verses. For example the verses may be 8 bars long and the chorus may be 8 bars long but I may put in a 4 bar bridge (followed by the final repeat of the 8 bar chorus).

I know that in song writing terminology the "bridge" is often referred to as "the middle eight" thus inferring a preferance for an 8 bar bridge.

My question is, how common is it for songs to have a shorter bridge (say half the length of the verses)? Is there a good reason to try to make the bridge the same length as the verses - or is it perfectly acceptable and/or common to have a bridge that is shorter than the verses?

  • The bridge is literally a bridge, it gets you across from one part of the song to another. If it's long an important to the song, it might be better to refer to it as something else. That said I think this is really subjective. Of course it is perfectly "acceptable" to have a short bridge. – delete me Jul 17 '15 at 16:42
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    There are only two kinds of music - Country and Western... – Tim Jul 17 '15 at 17:41
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'Middle eights' can be as short as 4 and as long as 24 bars! They are just often 8 bars long - the clue's in the words! Each and every song needs what it needs, and if a song you've written sounds good with a * bar middle, then so be it. The old adage - if it sounds good... Whilst there is no perfect formula for a song - V1, V2, Ch, V3, Ch, etc., a lot will follow similar patterns. There will always (thank goodness) be other songs which do their own thing - and it often makes them the stand-out songs. With or without a 'middle eight'.

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Good question with many potential answers.

I've written with many songwriters, from Grammy winning to hobbyists and these words mean different things to different people.

Yes, many people equate "bridge" to "middle 8", however more strictly speaking the "bridge" is the "pre-chorus". Named thus as it is the "bridge" between the verse and the chorus.

There are no hard and fast definitions as I said above. People generally get a definition of what the words mean when they first start, and it sticks with them for their whole career.

Your question about how long it should be?

It should be exactly as long as you write it to be :-)

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  • In jazz, the verse is commonly the intro. – Tim Feb 14 '16 at 13:35
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Google for "Midge Ure Building Bridges" for a BBC radio documentary on bridges in songwriting, presented by the ex-frontman of Ultravox. When I heard it on the radio, I'm sure I remember one contributor saying one of his songs contained a 1-bar middle eight. I did intend posting a link to the BBC website but this particular programme isn't available there any more.

Here is a link to the above mentioned documentary Midge Ure Building Bridges Documentary on YouTube

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  • Thanks Brian. I found the documentary you referred to. And I edited your answer to include a link. Plus 1 - now that you have the link ;-) – Rockin Cowboy Feb 15 '16 at 1:22
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Dude, you don't need to be worried about it at all! Your song might not have even a chorus (or a bridge or whatever) and be very good! Don't be concerned about the amount of bars or verses. The most important is that sounds true. Don't follow formulas! A lot of Bob Dylan's songs have no chorus or bridges. Wikipedia knows nothing! ;) sorry my english

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