Prechorus vs bridge vs middle 8

Hey folks,

Figured the Beginners section is the right place for this question.

In reading about songwriting and composing, I see the terms prechorus, bridge, and middle 8 used a lot. It’s clear that sometimes two or more of them are used interchangeably, leading to confusion (at least on my part).

Is the bridge the same as the middle 8? Just what IS the middle 8? If not the same as a bridge, what’s the difference?

I’ve also seen prechorus and bridge used interchangeably. What exactly is a prechorus? Are they just a couple bars of variation leading in to a chorus?

I thought I knew what a bridge is (have you seen the bridge? I can’t find the bridge. Where’s that confounded bridge?!) but now I’m questioning my musical sanity… all input welcome!

My understanding is that middle 8 and bridge are pretty much interchangeable.

Middle 8 coming from 8 bars changes (often in another key) in the middle of a simple verse/chorus/verse/chorus structure. It’s suppose to spice it up and keep things interesting.

A pre-chorus is different though, it’s usually a lead in from a verse to a chorus, it can be a few bars long and it’s supposed to ramp things up to the chorus.

At least that’s what I understand when people are using these terms.
Please correct me if I’m wrong.


Think of a pre-chorus as a repeating bridge that leads into the chorus. I think it’ll be easier to find some songs with examples.

I worded that so wrong. Haha.


Here’s a good example in pop music.

Before the choruses, Katy Perry sings the lines “you just gotta ignite the light and let it shine…” , which is the pre-chorus of this song, before she gets to the actual chorus “cause baby you’re a firework…”

I agree that bridge and middle 8 are nearly the same if not identical. Perhaps bridge is an overall common term, and middle 8 was specialized for pop music, as The Beatles like to call it that as the device in their hit songs. However, a middle 8 by definition is 8 bars, whereas a bridge is not defined or limited IMO.

A pre-chorus is a lead in to the chorus. It will have the same lyrics in each pre-chorus usually, so it’s like a chorus structure (as opposed to verse sections that typically change lyrics each time). It’s usually an energy shift from verse but less intense than the chorus, so it builds excitement and helps set up the message of the chorus. That can be for a song energy or lyric device standpoint.

There are some other devices, such as “stops” and “turnarounds” and perhaps many others. Those are more for musical effect but help create energy shifts and transitions in songs. A stop brings a dramatic pause in the tempo, and can be lots of fun. A turnaround can be many things, but is very common in blues. They can be one or two measures, usually short. In blues, it may be a cool riff inserted between 12-bar progressions, which can be pretty vanilla and cliche.

What dreadful lyrics.

Agree with what has been said. ‘Bridge’ is more of a multi purpose term that can be used to describe any transition. Middle 8 is in the middle and has 8 bars, prechorus is a transitionary introduction to the chorus.

prechorus? virtually any song by The Cult, or Def Leppard have one lol. Has nothing to do with a “bridge” really

“Long legged lady with a black dress on…on my knees momma please”

or one of my faves. “So many times I…call your name”

Another classic, Lenny Wolf always had that nice, neat structuring. Love songs where they go “solo, prechorus, chorus” etc

Yeah those are good examples. Here’s one by Def Leppard. “Another Hit and Run”. It’s a long intro (as they were known to do in the early 80’s), 1st verse at 1:05, pre-chorus at 1:31, chorus at 1:46. 2nd verse is extremely short, back to Pre and Chorus. Then Solo. Solo bridge? Then solo again. Solo bridge again. Song bridge which I think is way more than 8 bars. An interesting “stop”. Straight into chorus with no Pre. Outro Solo.

There is basically nothing to the song, really, but this was one of my favorites to play guitar to back in the early 80’s. It f*cking rocks, but a songster analysis would probably say it sucks in structure. Oh well. I like it. :beerbang:


Hey Patrick, I was just thinking about you this weekend, noticing you hadn’t been around for a while. Welcome back! And thanks for the comments. :slight_smile:

Thanks everyone for all the pointers. Lately I’ve been trying to take a more deliberate, and deliberative, approach to songwriting and have been reading up on structures and so forth. Plus there is lots of commentary out there for the mixing process that uses this kind of terminology too (reading Mike Senior’s book at the moment, which has been the spark for this and many other ideas). Realized I didn’t know a lot of stuff that I thought I did… pretty common experience for me!! :grin:

Yeah, I’m sorry if I hadn’t been around lately.
Although I like the place (and people!), I’m trying to stay off the internet ATM and use the little time I have to do some music…
You can hear one of my last attempts here: Please Bash: It’s a Hurt

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Think I remember this from an interview with Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn… But a middle 8 is usually based upon the chords of the verse or a simplified version thereof. And a bridge is usually built from differing but complimentary chords.
So a middle 8 would be a place for solos and ad libs but no verse vocals and a bridge is meant to take you temporarily away from the original flow of the tune.
I have no help from Steve and Duck on prechorus… :slight_smile: But I think that anything that sets up the chorus can be considered a prechorus. Even if it’s just a build or shift in the verse leading into it…
Have fun

This is a GREAT topic. Here is how I usually explain it. The pre chorus is a part that takes you from the verse into the chorus and happens more than once in the song. The lyrics may or may not repeat every time its played. A bridge typically only happens once in a song and if it has lyrics they are usually from a different perspective then the other lyrics in the song or lyrics support the story line from a different angle.

The “Middle 8”. I don’t like this term because it generally, as I understand it, means you have 8 bars or 8 chords (Which of course not all bridges have 8 bars or chords). It is a slang term for bridge that I hear mostly country and folk musicians use. Usually song writers.

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Indeed, that does seem to be the case. And given that it’s songwriting that has prompted me to get into these things, I am trying to understand the terminology typically used, but it’s awfully ambiguous sometimes.

Part of my problem, I’m sure, is that a lot of the stuff I listen to doesn’t neatly fit into these kinds of structures. In many cases, even verses and choruses are not clear-cut, pretty much the only part that is really identifiable is a bridge (and @Paul999 I like the way you defined “bridge” here).

And given those influences, I try to avoid things that are “too normal” in that structural sense, although I should probably not aim quite so high… walk before I run and all that. :walking: :runner:

That’s funny – I literally grew up listening to the Beatles and as such have to really force myself NOT to use a pre-chorus and bridge, it just comes so naturally

I think you’ve hit on the crux of it all. Whenever I teach music theory, I start with the soapbox speech that the music came first and the theory came later in order to attempt to understand/categorize/explain what’s going on.

All of these terms are just that - terms that we use to make sense of what’s happening in the music. Yes, there are some formulas, structures and patterns that have proven to be more robust and popular than others, but when it comes down to it, music theory is not a set of rules or boundaries in which you must remain.

And it’s not saying that you have to rebel against the standard “song structure” - just don’t feel that colouring outside the lines once in a while will get you lynched.


I also grew up with the Beatles and all of the “traditional” song structures, yet even so am often confused when reading songwriting articles or mixing stuff-- naturally, not everyone uses these terms the same way.

And I sure know that I’m in the right community not to get lynched for being adventuresome! :grin: My main goal on this is just to gain a better understanding when I’m reading jargon-y writeups where these sorts of terms are tossed around. I’m not shy about either adhering to “accepted” structures or about violating them!

Yes bridge is part that leads to chorous, usually involves a repeating theme or chord change ready to let the chorous have a bigger impact.

Middle 8 as i know it is an 8 bar part nearer the end of the song, typically before a double chorous or big ending at the end which although similar to the bridge tends to have a different lyrical content, rythem or melody to the rest of the song so when the song reverts back to the chorus at the end it has a bigger impact.
I always see it as a sing structure like this:

Clear as mud lol

Hard to explain,
But you will hear examples in loads of songs you know.

Here’s a song i did a while back which sort of exagerates what i mean about a middle 8
(Please excuse the shitty mix and pitchy vocals, its all one take and i got fed up withit so this is how it ended up)

The ‘middle 8’ ish part is at 1:52, you’ll understand what i mean if u listen to the whole track.