Strumming Guide for "Into the Mystic" by Van Morrison
Lesson #506 • Aug 5, 2023
Looking for my song sheet for Into the Mystic? Find it here — along with my full video tutorial.
In this week’s lesson I’m excited to dive into the strumming & rhythm of Van Morrison’s 1970 classic Into the Mystic. At a quick glance this song might seem relatively simple, as you only need four chords without any quick changes — but it’s the strumming where things can get quite complicated. This is due to a few things: the sixteenth-note rhythm, Morrison’s hammer-on from Csus2 to C, a percussive slap on the 2nd beat of some measures, and the way the intro strum quickly evolves before settling into the verse & chorus sections. But fear not, I’ll walk you through all of it — showing a few simplified versions of things along the way. Let’s get into it!
- 0:00 Summary
- 1:14 Chords & Progressions
- 2:13 Rhythm 101: 16th Notes
- 4:05 Strumming Basics
- 6:44 Strumming the Verse & Chorus
- 9:56 Strumming the Intro
- 12:31 Farewell & Final Tips
Instructional PDF 2 pages
Follow along with the print-friendly PDF! It includes all of my notes for this lesson, allowing you to follow along at your own pace. You're free to download, print, and share the PDF across your devices.
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Extended Video Lessons
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Play-Along Practice Track
Here’s a practice track I made which loops through me playing the progressions used in the verse and chorus, over approximately 4 minutes. Chords are shown on screen, so you always know exactly what to play next. You can use this to practice any strumming pattern you want. Given this is slowed down (80bpm), it’s a great stepping stone should you want to be able to play things at Van Morrison’s tempo (85bpm).
Playthrough with Singing
If you’re curious how it sounds when I put everything together and play through each part of the song, check this out. You can watch me play the intro, then transition into the verse & chorus strum. You can also see how I occasionally add constant down-up-down-up strums on the final 4 sixteenth notes of the measure, which I describe in my main video lesson.
Quarter, Eighth, and Sixteenth Note Warm-Up
If you need help getting a feel of 16th note strumming, check out this video where I cycle between quarter notes, eighth notes, and sixteenth notes — all played at the exact same tempo (80 bpm, where quarter note = 1 beat).
Audio Drum Track for Play-Along Practice
Here’s a ~4 minute audio track featuring drums played in the rough style of what you hear on Van Morrison’s recorded version of this song. The tempo is 80bpm, which is slightly slower than Morrison’s 85bpm. If you’d like a steady beat to play over that isn’t a typical metronome, try this out!
Here’s the strumming patterns I show in my video lesson and print-friendly PDF, along with audio examples. Each pattern below is strummed at 80 beats per minute (quarter note = 1 beat).
Use this if you need to get your strumming hand familiar with the constant down-up-down-up motion necessary for 16th note strumming!
Similar to the prior exercise, but saves all the down-up-down-up for the last four 16th notes.
This is a bit of a “straight ahead” strum that may be helpful as you get started with things. Notice how my down-strums on the 2 and 4 counts are a bit heavier (louder) than all other down-strums. Also, note how the first half of this pattern is the exact same as the second half!
My favorite! I found myself using this the most as I practiced the song more and more. If you want, you can add down-up-down-up strums to the final four sixteenth notes of this pattern – though, I suggest doing this sparingly (not every single measure).
Here’s the percussive strum I demonstrate but without the percussive hits on beats 2 and 4. This is a handy way to get familiar with the down & up strumming motions first.
Same as above, but with the percussive hits added on beats 2 and 4.
My Main Song Lesson for “Into the Mystic”
If you want an overall song lesson for Into the Mystic, I made one! Including a print-friendly song sheet with lyrics — which you can get here.
“Into the Mystic” Van Morrison (album version)
Listen to Van Morrison play it! 85 bpm, capo 3rd fret.
Licks & Fills from “Shut Up and Play”
If you want to learn some of the licks & fills heard in the album recording, check out this tutorial. There’s lots of bits teaching the various fills used by the accompanying guitarist.
Other Helpful Lessons I’ve Made
Here’s a few lessons I mention in my main tutorial, which will help when learning this song.
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