Today we’re gonna be looking at how to play “Moonlight Shadow” on guitar. This song was written and performed by English musician Mike Oldfield. It was released as a single in 1983 and is part of the album Crises.

The fact that we are talking about this song 37 years after it was released is quite impressive. It is still a favorite among bonfire lovers and remains Oldfiled’s biggest hit to date. Interestingly, “Moonlight Shadow” became a hit on the voice of Scottish singer Maggie Reilly, a collaborator of Oldfield. So let’s dig into the nooks and crannies of this timeless hit. Here is how to play “Moonlight Shadow” on guitar.


When learning a new song, the best place to start is usually the chords. They make up the harmony. In other words, the group of chords used in a song determine its harmony and key. And it can be quite simple, very complicated, or anywhere in between those two extremes. But fear not, as “Moonlight Shadow” uses very simple chords. Perhaps that simplicity is precisely part of the reason it became a classic.

The harmony of “Moonlight Shadow” is composed of the following chords: E, B, C#m, A, B. That is it. If you can play those chords, then you can play the song. Can’t play them yet? Stay with me and read carefully. If you practice daily, you will be able to play “Moonlight Shadow” in 14 days, give or take. But you have to practice at least 15 minutes daily. Do we have a deal?


The form of the song refers to what sections are played, how many times, and in what order. The form of “Moonlight Shadow” starts out with an intro (E, B, C#m, A, B), where the all chords are played for four beats, except the C#m and A (which are only played for two beats). Just strum each chord four times downwards (and two-beat downwards for the ones that last two beats). Then we move on to the verse (C#min, A, B, E, B). Here too, all chords are played for four beats, except the E and B, which are only two beats. We then move into the bridge section (A, B, C#m, A, and B). Finally, there is a guitar solo which follows the chords of the verse. 

Don’t be intimidated 

The form may sound a bit complicated when you read it. But in reality, it is deceptively simple. This is because each section uses the same chords from the intro, but with slight alterations in their order. This is done to add contrast among sections, but still make it sound like it belongs in the same song. Once you start practicing “Moonlight Shadow”, you will realize that it is a very simple song. 

There are many great songs you can learn with just a few simple chords and a minimum of practice. “Moonlight Shadow” is one of them. I’d like to take this moment to drastically state what I’ve hinted at during this article: you have to practice. A “minimum of practice” is not the same as a “no practice”. As a matter of fact, they are diametrically opposite.

Regardless of what your goals are on the guitar, you will have to practice. That’s true even if you have no goals on the guitar. I know, I know… the word “practice” intimidates you. Let me help you out. How about you just “play” the guitar a few minutes a day, every day? Better huh? Don’t overthink. Just pick up your guitar, make sure it’s in tune, and play it daily. I know that if you do that, you will know how to play “Moonlight Shadow” in just a few days. Let us know what other songs you’d like to learn in the comments below.