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How to Play Brown Eyed Girl on Guitar: Beginner Guitar Lesson

Greetings, fellow music enthusiasts! Today, we’ll embark on a detailed, step-by-step journey teaching you how to play the timeless song “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison on your guitar. Perfect for beginners, this guide promises to simplify every chord, offer in-depth explanations, share valuable guitar techniques, and lightly touch upon music theory. This tutorial is perfect for those new to guitar playing or those wishing to refine their skills.


Recognized globally, Van Morrison’s timeless tune, “Brown Eyed Girl,” remains a fundamental piece of pop music. Its catchy tune, player-friendly chord structure, and passionate lyrics make it an evergreen choice for guitar enthusiasts everywhere. As a beginner on the guitar, this melody offers an excellent opportunity for you to polish your skills. This comprehensive guide will equip you with the necessary insights to confidently strum this classic on your guitar.

Table of Contents

  1. Grasping Guitar Chords
  2. Understanding Rhythm Fundamentals
  3. Detailed Look at the Intro
  4. Comprehensive Breakdown of the Verse and Chorus
  5. The Bridge: A Sneak Peek into Music Theory
  6. Pro-tips for Efficient Guitar Practice
  7. Recap and Future Directions

1. Grasping Guitar Chords

Our first step in this guitar tutorial is understanding the four primary chords: G major, C major, D major, and E minor (Em). For beginner guitarists, getting a handle on how to position your fingers to accurately play these chords is critical:

  • G Major: Kickstart by placing your middle finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string, your index finger on the 2nd fret of the A string, your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the B string, and your pinky on the 3rd fret of the high E string.
  • C Major: Subsequently, position your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the A string, your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the D string, and your index finger on the 1st fret of the B string.
  • D Major: Afterwards, place your index finger on the 2nd fret of the G string, your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the B string, and your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the high E string.
  • E Minor (Em): Finally, situate your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the A string and your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the D string.

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2. Understanding Rhythm Fundamentals

The rhythmic heart of “Brown Eyed Girl” is a steady 4/4 beat, a rhythm pattern friendly to beginners. Identifying and internalizing the rhythm is essential as it breathes life into the tune. Try tapping your foot along with the beat for better rhythm comprehension.

3. Detailed Look at the Intro

The intro of “Brown Eyed Girl,” perhaps its most recognized part, incorporates the G, C, G, and D chords. Set aside some time to practice transitioning between these chords. Smooth, seamless transitions should be your primary goal. Start slow, gradually increasing your pace as you grow more comfortable.

4. Comprehensive Breakdown of the Verse and Chorus

4. Comprehensive Breakdown of the Verse and Chorus

Let’s move to the heart of the song: the verse and chorus sections. They’re pivotal parts of “Brown Eyed Girl,” carrying its primary melody, reflecting the storyline, and conveying Van Morrison’s signature storytelling style. The lyrics here are designed to evoke vivid imagery and potent emotions, characteristic of Morrison’s work.

In these sections, we retain the chords from the intro (G, C, D), with the addition of the Em chord, shaping the melodic progression. Let’s delve deeper:

Verse: The verse follows a G – C – G – D chord progression, repeated twice for each verse. Each chord is played for one measure (or four beats), creating a balanced and rhythmical flow. The sequence from G to C, back to G, and finally to D establishes an enjoyable, circular progression that’s easy to play.

The suggested strumming pattern for the verse is: D-DU-UDU

Chorus: The chorus introduces the Em chord with a progression of C – D – G – Em – C – D – G – D. Starting with the C chord, moving to D before returning to G ties the chorus back to the verse. The inclusion of the Em chord adds depth, and the quick shift back to D ensures a smooth transition back to the verse.

The recommended strumming pattern for the chorus is: D-DU-UD-DU

Now, let’s discuss the terms: ‘D’ stands for a downstroke, and ‘U’ stands for an upstroke. So, “D-DU-UDU” translates to down-down-up-up-down-up. Practice the strumming pattern slowly at first, then gradually increase your speed as you become more comfortable. Remember, the key is to maintain a consistent rhythm.

While mastering these sections, focus on perfecting the chord transitions and maintaining rhythm. Smooth transitions between chords are vital for the overall sound and fluidity of the song. It may seem challenging initially, but with consistent practice, your fingers will intuitively move from one chord to another.

5. The Bridge: A Sneak Peek into Music Theory

Let’s journey into the heart of music theory with the bridge section of “Brown Eyed Girl.” This part of the song provides a slight shift in the melody and an excellent opportunity to explore some basic music theory principles. Music theory may sound intimidating to a beginner, but it’s simply the grammar of the music world. Knowing it can improve your understanding and performance significantly.

In “Brown Eyed Girl,” the bridge uses the chord progression C – D – G – Em – C – D. This progression may seem straightforward, but it’s an example of a fundamental concept in music theory: the Circle of Fifths. The Circle of Fifths is a visual representation of the relationships among the 12 tones of the chromatic scale, their corresponding key signatures, and the associated major and minor keys. It’s a powerful tool that helps musicians understand and memorize scales and chords, figure out key signatures, transpose songs into different keys, and even compose their own music.

The bridge starts with the C chord and moves to D, a perfect fifth apart. It then goes back to G (which is also a fifth from D if you go around the circle), and then to Em. This relationship among chords is why certain chord progressions, like the one in this song, are pleasing to the ear and are widely used in popular music.

When playing the bridge, maintain the strumming pattern suggested for the chorus: D-DU-UD-DU. However, keep in mind that the bridge speeds up a bit, so be prepared to change chords a bit faster.

7. Recap and Next Steps

By this stage, you should possess a robust foundation to perform “Brown Eyed Girl” on your guitar. You’ve learned the chords, perfected the rhythm, dissected the structure, and even ventured into music theory’s basics. The next step is continuous practice until you can play the song fluidly.

After mastering “Brown Eyed Girl,” you can explore more songs that use similar chords and rhythm patterns. Countless songs use the G, C, D, and Em chords, providing a plethora of practice material.


Mastering “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison on guitar is an attainable goal for beginners. This guide has served as your roadmap, breaking down the song into digestible sections and offering practical tips to enhance your practice. Remember, the journey to guitar proficiency is marked by patience and consistent practice. Keep strumming, and soon you’ll be playing this classic song with ease.