Can someone explain the meaning of these musical terms to me? - U2 Feedback

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Old 10-26-2001, 08:03 AM   #1
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Can someone explain the meaning of these musical terms to me?

Namely:

"bridge" (I assume it's some part of a song?)
"hook"
"riff"

I'm just a little confused about what exactly they all mean,
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Old 10-26-2001, 01:12 PM   #2
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Okay, these may not be technically perfect, but this is what I know the terms to mean:

(And if anyone can correct or clarify, you're more than welcome to.)

A riff is a guitar "melody", a familiar sequence of notes, like the beginning of the Rolling Stone's "Satisfaction" and George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone".

A hook is -- and I'm *really* fuzzy on this one -- the sound of a song that sets it apart from other songs. In popular music, it's the thing that most makes the song "neat". The best example I can think of is the B.B. King sample ("I've been downhearted baby") in the Primitive Radio Gods' "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth...".

Finally, a bridge is the "different" part of a song's structure. An explanation:

Most songs are in the following form:

Verse
Chorus
Verse
Chorus
etc.

The verses are the part that having changing lyrics while the chorus's words are more or less the same. One of the simplest examples are older hymns, church songs such as the children's hymn "Jesus Loves Me":

(Non-Christians, please indulge me on this: I grew up on hymns, and it's easier ot see the chorus/verse separation in hymns than rock songs.)

Jesus loves me! this I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to him belong;
They are weak, but he is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! he who died
Heaven's gates to open wide!
He will wash away my sin,
Let his little child come in.

Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
The Bible tells me so.


And so on.

The first and third parts are the verses. The second and fourth parts are the chorus.

Not every song uses this same structure -- which is good, because music would be a lot less interesting that way.

Some songs (too many new church songs, in my opinion) have no verses at all, and just repeat the same chorus over and over again.

Some songs have nothing but verses, "Numb" being a good example of a chorus-less song (unless you count Bono's "Fat Lady" part).

Some songwriters add an introductory part (like the intro to "Walk On") or a concluding part called a coda (like the "All that you fashion, etc." ending of "Walk On").

Finally, some songs have a different part in the middle, and these are the bridges.

These bridges are completely different from verses and choruses, and are usually found in the second half of the song. If I were writing a song, it's structure might look like this:

Verse
Chorus

Verse
Chorus

Bridge

Chorus

(It's a pattern that actually approximates "Staring at the Sun", with the "Intransigence" rap being the bridge.)

Most bridges indicate a turning point in the song, highlight the main point of the song, or serve as a contrast.

And U2's songs (especially post-War) have quite a few bridges:

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

One day you will look...back
And you'll see...where
You were held...how
By this love...while
You could stand...there
You could move on this moment
Follow this feeling

'Cause I'm already gone
Felt that way all along
Closer to you every day
I didn't want it that much anyway

I was unconscious, half asleep
The water is warm 'til you discover how deep
I wasn't jumping, for me it was a fall
It's a long way down to nothing at all

I can't wait any longer
I can't wait 'til I'm stronger
Can't wait any longer
To see what you see
When I look at the world


Hope that helps.

------------------
- Achtung Bubba

I believe in truth, beauty, freedom, and -- above all things -- love.

[This message has been edited by Achtung Bubba (edited 10-26-2001).]
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Old 10-26-2001, 05:48 PM   #3
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Well while we're on this topic...

What's a middle-eight?
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Old 10-26-2001, 06:06 PM   #4
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The middle-eight is basically another name for the bridge. Most rock songs are in 4/4, and most bridges for rock songs are 8 measures long, hence middle-eight.

And to expand on what other people have said, often times the hook can be the riff. Like in Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, Edge's power riff during the chorus is what I think hooks me into the song, and the main riff in In A Little While could also be considered the hook (although the same could be said of Bono's ooohing in that song - but that could also be considered a vocal riff ).

[This message has been edited by Diemen (edited 10-26-2001).]
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Old 10-26-2001, 06:11 PM   #5
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Thanks!!
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Old 10-27-2001, 03:14 AM   #6
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Pretty good Bubba!

To further expand on the "hook"...I don't think it's necessarily what makes it different...but it's that one moment in the song when everything "makes sense"...kinda like the climax and it usually comes in the chorus....it "hooks" the listener on the song....make sense?...probably not...
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