A musical interlude is a short piece of music that’s played between sections of a longer composition. They’re often used to break up the monotony of a song, add contrast between different parts of the piece, or simply to change the mood. Interludes can be instrumental, a short song or even a spoken word skit.
They can also be used to transition between songs on an album, adding a smooth transition for listeners as they move from upbeat to sad or fast to slow songs. Interludes can even be used to tell a story, like in the case of rap artist Kendrick Lamar’s haunting interlude “For Free” from his critically acclaimed album To Pimp A Butterfly.
In a song, interludes are usually instrumental passages that follow a section of lyrics and lead into a chorus. They’re similar to bridges in that they can also be instrumental, but bridges usually have a melody and tempo shift that distinguishes them from interludes.
The term interlude has been around for centuries and is used in various contexts, including plays and film. In a play, it’s an intervening period between two scenes that helps the audience reorient themselves and prepare for the next part of the play. Musical interludes are often lighthearted and help to ease the audience into a scene.
A common use of interludes is in churches, where choirs and organists frequently perform instrumental songs between hymns or scripture readings. They can be instrumental or have vocals, but they’re not meant to serve as a replacement for the main message of the service. Interludes have also been used in Hollywood films to heighten the drama or to create a specific mood.