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  1. #51

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    What a task! I recommend you the Van Eps course by Steve Herberman in order to have musical examples using this exercises. I know RosenIwinkel works with these books and one of the things I admire from him is the way he profits patterns and theoric exercises into meaningful music.


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  3. #52

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    I would do all the things you suggest, plus improvise using these triads, making melodies with the top notes, be creative with them from the outset, even in a very simple way.

    GVE states somewhere that he did not expect people to start at page one, working their way through all three volumes progressively, rather just jump in here and there, see what takes your interest.

    Good luck. The three volumes are on my shelf, and a picture of George stares at me, wondering why they are gathering dust. My guilt deepens daily.

  4. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    The three volumes are on my shelf, and a picture of George stares at me, wondering why they are gathering dust. My guilt deepens daily.
    I've seen your posts many times where you say that you ca't get started with Harmonic Mechanisms when I was lookingfor Van Eps related topics How about we start it together? I think if there are two of us - it will be easier to start and more interesting. What do you say? George stares at you in patience, but even his patience has a limit

  5. #54

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    Well, jetaman, you might be giving me the gentle shove I need to get started. Give me the weekend to think about it.

  6. #55

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    Yikes. I've owned volume 1 of HM since it was first published. The others got purchased later and I've made more false starts on working with them than I would want to admit to...despite Rob's excellent videos of the exercises from GVE's earlier, more modest tome, a copy of that too languishes on the to-be-done shelf. Should a study group be started?

  7. #56

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    I would really like to be a member of such study group. I wonder if there are people here who have worked through these books (at least the first one) and could be our guides in this way. Maybe the admins, Matt or Dirk.

  8. #57

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    I spent an hour with Volume 1 this morning, only to be reminded why I've been resisting taking it on.

    1. His fingering drives me crazy. I know he has a reason for it, but there are usually other ways of doing what he is asking. Take the first two chords in the example in the original post above. The sixth-string F is played with the second finger, then two open strings. Then the second finger plays a partial barre at the second fret, and the third finger plays the sixth strings. That bears all the hallmarks of someone imposing a philosophy on a technique, when other fingers would not only be much simpler, but would also allow more legato phrasing.

    2. He expands on these fingerings later in the book, adding more notes, and this is where we are meant to see the logic of his initial fingering choices. But see for example page 66, bar 3 - madness.

    3. The obsessive examination of all possibilities of one thing, all carefully written out with his overly-complicated notational system, when he could say "When you hold these three notes down, all notes around them within the span of one finger per fret, become available".

    Well, what can I say? I love the guy, his playing, and his willingness to help us. I'm also a fan of Steve Herberman, the modern exponent of the GVE method. I just feel three big volumes is overkill, and could have been whittled down to one medium-sized volume, allowing for different fingering approaches. I'm 57 years of age, and don't feel I want to spend the next five years of my life memorising most of what these books have to offer. But if you are younger, they might be worth your while.

  9. #58

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    I have all 3 volumes and am also hesitant to spend time to memorize his fingerings, but .....
    the gist of what he is driving at is hidden in plain sight within the title, "mechanics".

    One fingering will often emerge as our favorite, most comfortable way to play a given chord.
    When then placed in a chord sequence, we must also consider what movements are needed
    coming from the previous chord(s) and the movements to get to the chord(s) upcoming.
    Especially when we are going for a legato chordal sound. George Van Eps was quite good at this.

    So, while I don't meticulously followed his fingerings, it has inspired me to examine this topic
    more closely. My goal being to expand awareness and real time application of the fingering options
    available for each voicing.

    As to using the book, I will play through a given exercise using whatever fingering occurs to me.
    Then if time permitting, I go back and look to see what he did differently, and try to puzzle out his thinking.
    Mostly, away from the book, I have developed the habit of exploring fingering options in greater detail.
    For this I am thankful.
    Last edited by bako; 06-05-2017 at 10:05 AM.

  10. #59

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    I'm going to do the following:
    1. I will record videos and post my progress here for anyone who is interested. My first goal is to play the first exercise in all keys in a row.
    2. I'm going to contact two people who I know for sure have worked with Van Eps books and can share their approach or at least give some advice - Steve Herberman and Jordi Farres.
    Stay tuned
    Last edited by jetaman; 06-05-2017 at 02:09 PM.

  11. #60

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    Sorry, but I will have to double post this.

    Hey guys! I got a reply from Steve Herberman. I really hope it will help some of you and me included. Here's what he said.
    Van Eps’ own advice in working with the H.M. books was to not worry about going page by page but rather skipping around to sections that were of interest. I do think that the harmonized major scales at the beginning of vol. 1 can act as a prerequisite to the sections that follow. But I think it’s important to not get caught up in these harmonized scales to the point that you never get around to digging into the super and sub concepts over other cycles (like in tunes.) The first section of his book is only cycle 2 if my memory serves correct.
    I read your thread on and see that you have worked with the slim volume from the late 1930’s. Being that you’ve already covered that material I’d recommend moving on to other sections of interest. It’s true that GVE does not tell the player how to apply this information. He preferred that it be left up to the individual. For me GVE’s approach opened up so much for me in moving voices around within chord “stations” and then voice leading lines from chord to chord through the progressions of tunes. GVE offers so many fingering choices in his books I feel that he is trying to show all possibilities so eventually the player can have the mechanisms in place to improvise counterpoint. Don’t get too caught up in the fingerings would be my advice as you’ll see he’ll offer them all up eventually. The heart of his approach is the super and sub series and if you can learn to use this on a progression than I think it will eventually all be clear and open up for you.

  12. #61

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    What a daunting task! I've gotta tell you that I've never actually met anyone who worked their way through every page in those 3 Van Eps volumes including myself and I had my own guitar shop in Annapolis, MD for 30 years teaching 5 - 6 hours a day (mainly college age students).

    Those Van Eps volumes are an incredible resource that are probably best approached by re-visiting them again and again over a period of many years.

    What I found to be a lot more fun was learning a lot of Hank Mackie's solo guitar arrangements that are in that "constant motion" style of George Van Eps where the bass line is moving, or the melody is moving, or the inner voices of the chord are moving, or any combination of all of those are in motion at the same time.

    Although Hank plays 7-string guitar like Van Eps did his arrangements are written out in block chord diagram form for 6-string guitar players so they are easy to work through.

  13. #62
    Please pardon my quick and incomplete reply to Jetaman that he just posted here. Steven Herron mentioned that he's never met anyone that worked through all the pages to the GVE H.M. books. Steven and I have never met face to face but traded educational material years ago. If we had met than he couldn't have written that! GVE's own advice was to "sweet tooth it" and skip around to sections of interest. I knew that when I embarked on a 5 year study of the books but I decided to go page by page. At that time in my life I had more time and patience. If that fits your situation and you have the patience and can see the benefits and possible application while studying the book than by all means go page by page that way you won't miss anything. I do believe that you can skip around to sections of interest and explore those heavily and maybe check off the pages you work through. I transposed everything like GVE suggests and would check those off once they were completed. I took the sections that interested me the most and applied these to tunes.
    There are fingering errors in the book so if you come across something that's unplayable you'll have found them.
    GVE wanted each person studying the book to figure out how to apply the studies on their own but that doesn't mean that you wouldn't want to check out how others apply the concepts. I've done many video classes that use the GVE concepts. Here is a performance video I shot it Italy a couple of months ago that demonstrate some GVE concepts on a 7 string guitar with low A tuning. Hope you enjoy it:

  14. #63

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    Wow, Steve, I love your playing. Great to see, hear, and have your input here. I also love the sound of your guitar through that amp - the perfect package.

    Every time I hear you play, I think I really MUST work assiduously through the GVE books, and then do some or all of your online classes.

    As I said above, though, five years is a long time when you are 57 years of age. I wish I'd started them 20 years ago. But, you never know. I need to see how I can take scales of first-inversion chords and use them in a chord melody arrangement, or improvise over changes using them.

    I hope you stick around here, as there are many of us who love your playing.

  15. #64
    Ps: I didn't know that my moniker would show up and not my name so SevenStringer is me, Steve Herberman

  16. #65
    Thanks very much Rob, I'll try to stick around

  17. #66

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    Welcome to the forum Steve.

    You're one of my heroes. Great to have you here.


  18. #67

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    Steve, first I would like to join others in saying that it's an honour and a pleasure to have you here. I watched lots of your videos on Youtube, my favourites are your guitar/voice duos (amazing comping and overall performing) because my wife and I work in the same format I also checked out your masterclasses which I am planning to buy sometime in he future when I am a little more advanced.

    Second, when I was starting this thread I was planning to start a kind of study group where I (or maybe others who want to join) would post the progress on Harmonic Mechanisms. It would also be great to have a kind of curator/advisor/reviewer of the group or something like this - a person who worked with HM and applied it in real life and has experiece in it. I would like to ask you if you want to be that person, I think all the people would agree with me. You can be anything you want ( curator/advisor/reviewer ) or nothing at all - if you refuse, I think we'll understand. So what do you say?

    PS: In one of your Youtube videos you left a comment that you are recording a guitar/voice duo album in december. When will it be released?
    Last edited by jetaman; 06-07-2017 at 04:08 AM.

  19. #68

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    I'd be happy if Steve just popped his head in every now and then. I'm sure he's way too busy to do much else. But his presence has got me thinking about these books again.

    So, to get things started here's a run through the first exercise in the original post. I then use it to harmonise a couple of simple melodies.

    You will most likely need to turn up your volume for this phone video.

  20. #69
    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    I'd be happy if Steve just popped his head in every now and then. I'm sure he's way too busy to do much else. But his presence has got me thinking about these books again.

    So, to get things started here's a run through the first exercise in the original post. I then use it to harmonise a couple of simple melodies.

    You will most likely need to turn up your volume for this phone video.

    Very cool. I've done a lot with playing melodies using triads the last year or so. In my mind, it greatly helps with the "exercise-y" issues related to learning them.

  21. #70

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    Hey guys, I got a reply from Jordi Farres, a guitarist from Barcelona who not only have worked with Harmonic Mechanisms, but also did the famous transcriptions of GVE tunes.

    Hi Bohdan,those books are not easy for sure, but in my humble opinion, they are the best books I know for guitar technique, specially if you want to play alone. You can be busy with them your entire life, as they content tons of valuable information. I think Master Ted Greene thought that...
    One of the reasons I made the transcription book about Master George Van Eps was to try to understand and relate the "real" music with the techniques described in the books. What I understand now, after several years of thinking about all of these subjects, is that with that method you learn to think and visualize in complex and very usable ways, but it's a slow process and you have to put a lot of your own, because they are "only" exercices and techcniques. We have to decide where to put/use them, the contexts and how to use them.
    I think I could say that you cannot expect a immediate/direct application of the examples in your music. You need a profound process of assimilating and hearing to be able to imagine what to do with all the material.
    Hope to help you a bit, but it's a difficult thing, specially by mail.

    Let me send you this video with an arrangement of my own with some "V. E. Techniques":

    Thanks for your interest and see you soon,
    Best regards,


  22. #71
    Thanks very much for your kind words. I'm not sure when the guitar/voice CD will be released. We are talking about going back into the studio and recording more so we'd have more material to draw from for a future CD.
    I will try to stop by here as often as I can but probably shouldn't commit given that I have a lot of projects going right now. I'll say it is tempting though! Working on a new educational video at the moment that hopefully will be out in the next few weeks, have to get back to work on it :-)
    Thanks everyone for the warm welcome and good luck with the GVE books and I'll try to check in and see if I can help if there are any questions. Also for the Facebook people out there I have two pages; one personal page and a new musician page if you care to follow that. Lately I've been posting a lot of rare historical jazz guitar photos.

  23. #72

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    Jordi is a superb guitarist, for sure.

  24. #73

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    I'd be happy if Steve just popped his head in every now and then. I'm sure he's way too busy to do much else. But his presence has got me thinking about these books again.

    So, to get things started here's a run through the first exercise in the original post. I then use it to harmonise a couple of simple melodies.

    You will most likely need to turn up your volume for this phone video.
    Hey Rob, I really like how you approach the exercise. Would you do this in all keys? What other follow-up exercises would you do with these scales?

  25. #74

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    I've now memorised the F and Bb triad scales, and do a similar thing, just trying to work out simple melodies, which helps memorise the triads and see how they interact. One of my guitar students turned up, and I had him vamp a I/vi/ii/V cadence in C, while I tried a chord solo. I actually found it worked best if I didn't try to fit too neatly into the changes, but just sort of floated around, using my ear as a guide. It worked quite well. But so far it doesn't sound at all like GVE or Steve Herberman, so I want my money back!

    How are you getting on?
    Last edited by Rob MacKillop; 06-07-2017 at 04:16 PM.

  26. #75

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    After finishing Harmonic Mechanisms, Modern Guitar Method and Greene's single note soloing, you get a pass for guitarists paradise, where all the guitars are L5s and they don't need to be tuned.