How To Play Harlem River By Kevin Morby

How To Play “Harlem River” by Kevin Morby


“Harlem River” is a beautiful folk-rock song by Kevin Morby, released in 2013 as the title track of his debut solo album. The song features intricate fingerpicking patterns and heartfelt lyrics, making it a favorite among many guitar enthusiasts. In this article, we will break down the chords, strumming patterns, and techniques needed to play “Harlem River.”


Here are the chords used in the song:

  • Verse: Em, G, C, D
  • Pre-Chorus: Am, G, C, D
  • Chorus: G, D, Em, C

Strumming Patterns

The strumming pattern for “Harlem River” is relatively simple and follows a basic down-up pattern. Here’s an example:


1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

Feel free to adjust the strumming pattern to your liking or experiment with different patterns to match your playing style.


To add some flair to your playing, consider incorporating the following techniques:

  • Fingerpicking: During the verses, you can fingerpick the chords to create a more intricate and delicate sound. Experiment with different fingerpicking patterns or follow the general pattern of plucking the bass note with your thumb and the higher strings with your fingers.
  • Hammer-ons and Pull-offs: Throughout the song, you can add some embellishments by incorporating hammer-ons and pull-offs. These techniques involve quickly pressing and releasing a finger on a string to create a seamless transition between two notes.
  • Dynamic Strumming: Vary your strumming intensity to match the dynamics of the song. Play softly during the verses and gradually increase the strumming intensity during the pre-chorus and chorus to add intensity.


By mastering the chords, strumming patterns, and techniques outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to playing “Harlem River” by Kevin Morby. Remember to start slowly and gradually increase your speed as you become more comfortable with the song. Enjoy playing this beautiful piece of music!

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