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This article is about a bridge section in a piece of popular or classical music. For the part of a musical instrument which transmits the vibrations of strings to a soundboard, see bridge (instrument).
The ragtime progression (E7-A7-D7-G7) often appears in the bridge of jazz standards (About this sound Play )[1]. The III7-VI7-II7-V7 (or V7/V/V/V - V7/V/V - V7/V - V7) circle progression leads back to C major (I) but is itself indefinite in key.

In music, especially occidental popular music, a bridge is a contrasting section which also prepares for the return of the original material section. The bridge may be the third eight-bar phrase in a thirty-two-bar form (the B in AABA), or it may be used more loosely in verse-chorus form, or, in a compound AABA form, used as a contrast to a full AABA section. Commonly the "bridge" is in a contrasting key to the original melody.[citation needed] and can often be a perfect 4th higher.[citation needed]



Lyrically, the bridge is typically used to pause and reflect on the earlier portions of the song or to prepare the listener for the climax.[citation needed] The term may also be used to refer to the section between the verse and the chorus, although this is more commonly referred to as the pre-chorus or link.[citation needed] The theme "The Song That Goes Like This" from the musical play Spamalot spoofs in its lyrics the abuse of the bridge in romantic songwriting: Now we can go straight / into the middle eight / a bridge that is too far for me.[citation needed]

Classical music

In classical music, bridges, also known as transitions, are also common although they are much freer in form and length.[citation needed] Formally referred to as a bridge-passage, they are used to delineate separate sections of an extended work, or to smooth what would otherwise be an abrupt modulation such as the transition between the two themes of a sonata form. In the latter context, this transition between two musical subjects is often referred to as the "transition theme" [2]; indeed, in later Romantic symphonies such as Dvořák's New World Symphony or César Franck's Symphony in D minor, the transition theme becomes almost a third subject in itself[3].

The latter work also provides several good examples of a short bridge to smooth a modulation. Instead of simply repeating the whole exposition in the original key, as would be done in a symphony of the classical period, Franck repeats the first subject a minor third higher in F minor. A two-bar bridge achieves this transition with his characteristic combination of enharmonic and chromatic modulation. After the repeat of the first subject, another bridge of four bars is needed to lead into the transition theme in F major, the key of the true second subject.

An example of a bridge-passage used to separate two sections of a more loosely organized work occurs in George Gershwin's An American in Paris. As Deems Taylor described it in the program notes for the first performance: "Having safely eluded the taxis ... the American's itinerary becomes somewhat obscured. ... However, since what immediately ensues is technically known as a bridge-passage, one is reasonably justified in assuming that the Gershwin pen ... has perpetrated a musical pun and that ... our American has crossed the Seine, and is somewhere on the Left Bank."[4]


  1. ^ Boyd, Bill (1997). Jazz Chord Progressions, p.56. ISBN 0-7935-7038-7.
  2. ^ Songstuff Music Glossary
  3. ^ Collins Music Encyclopedia, London 1959, article "Symphony"
  4. ^ An American in Paris & "george gershwin's an american in paris piano solo" [sic], Warner Bros. Publications Inc., 1929 (renewed), p. 36

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