An interlude in a multi-part piece of music that serves as a preparation for the repetition of the main part.

The expression bridge gained popularity in U.S. pop music when German composers migrated there during the 1930s and translated the German term Steg into English. In German musicology, Steg designated the interlude in the songs of the Meistersinger that preceded the repetition of the Stollen (⇒ AABA).


The musical importance of the bridge is controversial. Traditionally, it has been regarded as almost irrelevant:

The parts of Tin Pan Alley of the 1930s, such as verse, bridge, and chorus, produced after a pre-fabricated pattern, were nothing but independent pieces that did not interact with each other or with the whole.1)

However, contemporary musicians consider the bridge to be the essential centerpiece of a song. Famous Jazz musician Theolonius Monk is reported to have claimed in 1960:

The inside of the tune (the bridge) is the part that makes the outside sound good.2)

Likewise, for Lori Burns and Mélisse Lafrance,

the bridge is a defining moment in a song's structure, … a marked shift in poetic style and perspective … The harmony and voice-leading of the bridge are also of strategic importance.3)