How To Play Brown Eyed Girl Without Tab – YT101

Paolo Bass Lab PLUS Membership, blog, Song Analyse

In today’s bass guitar lesson I’m going to share with you how to play Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison without tab or tablature. 

First of all, I want to make it clear that I'm not ‘anti-tab’ - it can definitely be a very useful tool. However it does come with limitations. I’ve played this tune 100s on 100s of times on gigs over the past 20 years and I’m going to show you how I simplify the song so I can play it at a moment’s notice. 

I’m going to show you how Brown Eyed Girl can be broken down into three core ideas. Today we’re going to cover:

  • How To Break Brown Eyed Girl Into 2 easy chord sequences

  • A Simple Bass Groove that will work for the song

  • A straight-forward bass line creation formula so you can easily link each chord chord together with melodic passing notes.

Get My Personal Bass Chart

Today I’m showing you techniques to simplify Brown Eyed Girl for the bass guitar. There are a  couple of places where extra bars or musical content have been added. 

Once you know core sections make sure you download my personal bass chart (which is part of the PDF workbook) - this will give you all the extra information you may need. Just click the  green button above.

Tablature & Backing Tracks

Just for total clarity I’ve added ‘Tab’ to all of the examples in the blog. However, the essence of this bass guitar lesson is understanding three simple principles we’re covering today. 

Please spend time understanding how the chord sequences, grooves and bass line creation formulas relate and this will start to make learning songs and bass lines so much easier and more rewarding.

If you need help make sure you join the Bass Lab PLUS..

The backing tracks in this lesson can be found in The Backing Track Vault which is part of the Bass Lab PLUS Program. 

You can join FREE for 14 days by clicking this link.

The 7 Notes Needed For This Song

This song is in the key of G Major. This means every single note directly relates to the G Major Scale. Make sure you get familiar with this scale first and observe how all of the chords and bass lines we cover use the notes:

brown eyed girl chart 1

Part 1 - The Verse & Chorus (Simple Groove)

The great thing about this song is the verse and the chorus of this song from a bass playing perspective have the same chord sequence. Exactly the same ideas will work across both sections of the song.

This section used 3 chords - G Major (Chord I), C Major (Chord IV) and D Major (Chord V).

The verse is this 4 bar chord sequence repeated 4 times. 

The bass groove can be simplified down into 2 notes: The first note on beat 1 of the bar and ‘pushed note’ which landed on beat 2+.

brown eyed girl chart 2

Just playing the simple bass line above is enough to perfectly fulfil our bass playing role in the band!

Part 2 - The Pre-Chorus (Extended Groove!)

The second chord sequence we need to learn to play Brown Eyed Girl is for the 8 bar pre-chorus (some people might also call this the bridge).

This adds one extra chord - An E minor (or chord VI).

This time I’m going to make the groove a little more complicated and add two extra notes at the end of each bar. Think of these as ‘secondary notes’ which are valuable… but not absolutely essential (like the pattern in part 1). 

The two extra notes are placed on beat 3+ and beat 4. Tapping your foot will help you place these notes on and off the beat accurately.

brown eyed girl chart 3

Note that the second time the pre-chorus is played roughly half way through the song it is extended by two bars. There are two extra bars of the chord ‘D’. Make sure you check out my personal chord chart to see this written out.

Part 3 - 2 Note Approach Bass Line Creation Formula

Finally we need a way to start creating and improvising our own bass lines. I’m going to show you a simple bass line creation formula called ‘The 2 Note Scalic Approach’. 

This simple formula is all about using the G Major Scale (that we covered earlier) to create a great sounding melodic ‘passing note’ which link each chord together.

The two notes we’re going to use are the notes we added on beat 3+ 4 from the extended groove from part two.  I’ll demonstrate this over the chord sequence from the verse.

Here’s how it works:

  • Think of the note on beat 1 of each bar as the ‘Target Note’. 

  • Approach each target note from 2 notes below using the G major scale.

  • If our target note is a ‘D’, just count down 2 notes in the scale. 

  • Our passing notes are a B & C which are places on beats 3+ and 4 of the previous bar.

2 Note Scalic Approach approaching from below:

brown eyed girl chart 4

We can also approach each chord from above too using the notes of the G Major Scale:

brown eyed girl chart 5


Why not try and work out a bass line which uses the 2 note transition approaching from above and below. When you mix them up this is when the bass lines start to sound more ‘improvised’.

Lesson Wrap Up

As you can see simplifying Brown Eyed Girl into two fundamental chord sequences, a basic groove with bass line creation formulas is a great way of learning this song. This approach will work for the vast majority of pop and rock songs and it also makes them vastly easier to memorise.

If you'd like to discover a whole course on bass line creation make sure you check out the Rock, Pop & Motown Bass Line Creation Course inside the Bass Lab PLUS membership.

This is 6 week or 6 module intensive course that teaches everything a bass player needs to understand how to play grooves, fills, approach notes and riffs over a wide variety of pop, rock and motown feels.

Good luck and get stuck in!


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