Connecticut Shoreline Studio for Music Lessons
in Voice, Piano, & the Fundamentals of Music

All Skill Levels Welcome, Ages 4 -104

Connecticut Shoreline Studio for Music Lessons
in Voice, Piano, & the Fundamentals of Music

Clef Notes

“Brown Eyed Girl”: The Classic Riff Explained

Brown Eyed Girl Riff

Expand your soloing by learning the concept behind this classic riff.

You’ve heard lots of songs with guitars playing melodies or solos not just on single strings, but in two note groupings, called dyads, or intervals. In guitar language, they are sometimes called “double stops.”

Dyads made up of thirds are played as the main riff for the intro of “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison.

(Link to a full lesson on the tune:

Go to 2:07 to see a good demonstration).

Start by learning and internalizing the main chord progression:

G  / C  / G /  D 

Over the G chord play:

Dyads

G - B
Brown Eyed Girl Riff Explained G-B
A - C
Brown Eyed Girl Riff Explained A-C
B - D
Brown Eyed Girl Riff Explained B-D
A - C
Brown Eyed Girl Riff Explained A-C
G - B
Brown Eyed Girl Riff Explained G-B

Over the C chord play:

Dyads

C - E
Brown Eyed Girl Riff Explained C-E
D - F
Brown Eyed Girl Riff Explained D-F
E - G
Brown Eyed Girl Riff Explained E-G
D - F
Brown Eyed Girl Riff Explained D-F
C - E
Brown Eyed Girl Riff Explained C-E

Repeat the G chord dyads again and then end on the D chord.

You can memorize this melody and stop there, but I’d like to demonstrate what is happening harmonically over the G and C chords. 

The dyads played over the G chord are derived out the first three chord qualities of the G major scale i.e., G Maj, A min, and B min, but using just the root – 3rd intervals, not the full chords. The G-B dyad is the major third interval of G Maj, the A-C dyad is the minor third interval of A min, and the B-D dyad is the minor third interval of B min.

Similarly, the same form of the melody (motif) repeats itself over the C chord, using C Maj, D min, and E min, where C-E is a major third, D-F is a minor third, and E-G is a minor third.

Why go into this depth? Well, it never hurts to learn a bit more about harmony. Using dyads, or intervals, can add some “weight” to compliment your single string soloing. Try out this idea starting in a different key or try moving the idea across to a different string pair. (These same fingerings work on string set 4-3 (D-G) and sound good.

Next time, we’ll look at “Blackbird” by the Beatles and see this concept again, but with a different and wider interval. 

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