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  1. #1
    Somewhere along the line I picked up George Van Eps Harmonic Mechanisms For Guitar volumes 1, 2, & 3. I've never really dug into these books as an initial quick scan of them didn't get me very excited.

    Amazon.com: Mel Bay George Van Eps Harmonic Mechanisms for Guitar, Vol. 1 (9780871669063): George Van Eps: Books: Reviews, Prices & more

    Has anyone else studied the material in these books and found it to be worth while? If so, what did you get out of them.

    thx!

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2
    OK - I just got Volume 1 down off the shelf - haven't looked at it in years. I'm on page 6 and I think I hooked. There's some good stuff in here.

  4. #3

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    Apparently some people use them as reference material and not as a strait through method. That is, when a particular chord or usage comes up, they look it up in the books and work on that particular area. I have them, but have not really done much other than glance through them. I bought them mostly because I like Van Eps stuff and I enjoyed his one volume method, which is out of print. It may be available as an eBook, but the one at Django books has a different cover from the one I have. I'll have to take another look at the three volume set.
    Brad

  5. #4

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    I was lucky enough to see and hear George Van Eps play when I attended GIT. It was truly amazing.

    The George Van Eps Guitar Method, at 40 pages, is not as daunting as the Harmonic Mechanisms Vols. 1-3, but it is out of print and the only place I know of to find it other than eBay is the eBook sold at Djangobooks.com.

    I used the GVE Guitar Method as a teenager to learn about triads and the fingerboard. There are a few things that tend to confuse folks who use the book for the first time. The major scale triads are harmonized as first inversions with the root on top, except for the 6th degree, which is harmonized as a second inversion IV triad. There can also be some confusion with the minor scales also which are harmonized to "tonicize" the minor chord rather than as scale degrees. This is due more to common usage at the time the book was written rather than a mistake on Van Eps' part.

    The Harmonic Mechanisms, however, are harmonized exhaustively in all keys according to scale degree. The Harmonic Mechanisms volumes are a compilation of many smaller books that GVE wrote on various aspects of playing harmony, technique and chord melody. There are many exercises in the books that deal with various problems such as sustaining two notes while moving a third, voice leading, dexterity and such. Pardon the pun but they are a handful.

    If anyone is serious about fingerboard harmony and the operative word is serious, I recommend all of these books without hesitation. If anyone decides to get into these books, I will be happy to offer any assistance that I can in answering questions. Just eMail or PM me.

    Prior to the emergence of Charlie Christian and the electric guitar, George Van Eps was considered by many to be the most accomplished guitarist in America. There are quite a few folks who still feel that way.

    Aside from the few recordings GVE made under his own name, one has to wade through a lot of big band and small group recordings to hear eight or sixteen bars of his genius. I've always considered it to be worthwhile and have amassed quite a bit of GVE. If anyone is interested, I'll be happy to point you toward sources.

    And here's the man himself.



    Regards,
    monk

  6. #5

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    monk,


    I have 4 cd's by GVE. Two from the 60's and one with Howard Alden. The other is the Concord "double" with Johnny Smith.

    I also have his book of compositions, which are a study in themselves if you follow the fingerings correctly.

    Lastly I have a copy of They Can't Take that Away that I once posted here (but removed due to copyright). I think the version. I have was transcribed by Bucky P. If you want a copy PM me your e-mail address.

  7. #6

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    Interesting video, monk. From watching, it strikes me that this is the lineage that brought us Chet Atkins.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by M-ster
    Interesting video, monk. From watching, it strikes me that this is the lineage that brought us Chet Atkins.
    Not really. In his early years, Van Eps played with a plectrum. He didn't record much fingerstyle until the 1950s. By that time, Chet was already established for nearly a decade as a pop/country fingerstylist.

    Chet's primary influence was Merle Travis with some Django Reinhardt and pre-effects Les Paul mixed in. Later, in the 1960s, Jerry Reed and Lenny Breau brought Chet new ideas to experiment with.

    The one common thread that GVE and CA share is that they both self studied classical guitar and Chet took some lessons from Bunyan Webb in the early 60s.

    Regards,
    monk

  9. #8

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    great books....

    great for disipline (sp)...you really learn the fingerboard...

    time on the instrument man..pierre

  10. #9
    From page 17, Volume 1....

    ================================================== ==

    GENERAL REMARKS - SELECTIVITY

    If 6 objects are placed side by side, the rearranged one at a time so they are always in a new position and relationship to each each other, it will require 720 moves to complete teh cycle. In other words, the number of distinct linear arrangements of six is 720.

    If the 6 objects were the open strings of the guitar, there would be 720 different ways to sound them before repeating.

    Now, when this arithmetic form is applied to 12 consequtive tones of the chromatic scale, the number of moves required in order to complete the cycle is 479,001,600.

    The huge difference between the 6 and 12 figure is of course due to geometric progression.

    479,001,600 = the possible combinations of 12. When multiplied by 720 totals:

    344,881,152,000

    344 billion, 881 million, 152 thousand combinations.

    Spending one second on each one of the possible combinations 24 hours a day - 7 days a week - 52 weeks a year - to reach the end of the order would take 11,036 years. This gives one small idea of the many choices available - this is "selectivity" - music as we know it today is less than 400 years old. This means that we have not even scratched the surface yet, not even near the surface.

    The meager use of notes does not mean a lack of quality or sound. The lightness of heaviness of sound depends more on the choice of notes, register, voicing, the timber of the tones, etc. rather than the quantity of notes.

    Closing a voicing, or opening and thinning a voicing is an audio equivalent of letting in fresh air.

    Moving lines must have space. In order for an inner voice to be able to stand out in any harmonic situation it must be given room to be heard. If all the notes on an organ were sounded simultaneously, all motion would be smothered - buried.

    ================================================== =

    Thanks for scrambling my brain Mr. GVE!

  11. #10

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    hey swing..

    ever read Leonard Bernsteins (sp) The Infinite Variety Of Music..

    he talks about the math too..

    time on the instrument..pierre

  12. #11

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    New here and to forum-izing in general, so hope I am doing this right (!)

    I am coo-coo for the Van Eps books and can definitely vouch for their applicability to chord melody playing and life in general. Firstly, as monk noted, Steve Herberman is absolutely the dude to check out for this style. Amazing. What he emphasizes in his lessons is to start by playing standards with half-note bass lines on the bottom and the melody line on top, making sure to use fingerings that allow the bass notes to sustain. On a simple tune like Autumn Leaves, this is pretty easy to get into just using roots, fifths and thirds on the E and A strings and the melody on the top 2 strings.

    The next step is "filling in the middle" with a bass and a melody note held down. Here is where the Harmonic Mechanisms books are replete with exercises geared toward building facility with this: e.g. holding down a 10th interval on the A and B strings, and playing arpeggios as inner lines, and then moving the patterns up and down the major, melodic minor, and harmonic minor scales. It really frees you from block chord-itis, and gets you into pianistic territory. Oddly enough, some of it also opens up a lot of pretty/chimey/dissonant counterpoint stuff that reminds me of Bill Frisell's playing. I wonder if he worked with the GVE books?

  13. #12

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    Yeah,

    Those Harmonic Mechanism books are on my list. I should probably start spending 15 minutes a day on them, maybe that would be a good New Year's resolution. The books are exhaustive, that's for sure. But it is a great way to break away from block chords and to learn how to get some inner-voice movement. My only complaint is that there aren't any examples of applications, but I guess that once you're at this level, you're supposed to figure that out for yourself.

    Peace,
    Kevin

  14. #13

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    Monk, do you recommend the ebook or just take the dive off the deep end?

  15. #14

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    I have these books for sale.Set of three.
    There are a lot of information about chords,chord constraction etc.
    Good for practicing chord-sale,fingerstyle.
    A lot of pages...:-)

  16. #15

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    They are an exhaustive examination of moving lines within chords and voicing. It's great stuff but it is a lot of work.

    Peace,
    Kevin

  17. #16

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    Who has a pdf. copy of The George Van Eps Method for Guitar the book is out of print I think is ok to share.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandro
    Who has a pdf. copy of The George Van Eps Method for Guitar the book is out of print I think is ok to share.
    Available here:
    eBook: The George Van Eps Method for Guitar
    Brad

  19. #18

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    As Kevin said, it's a lot of work. This is George Van Eps's life work. It should be noted that these volumes are predominantly exercises.

    The first volume covers major, harmonic minor and melodic minor triads in close and open voicings of root position, first and second inversions in all twelve keys. No TAB, all standard notation with few diagrams.

    Fingerings for the same triad may change from key to key. Van Eps's intention is for the student to acquire versatility and dexterity in fingering, with the end result being the ability to improvise harmonically. There are exercises for sustaining a voice or voices while others move.

    As I've mentioned before Van Eps's first book, The George Van Eps Guitar Method, is less daunting at at only 40 pages. It can be a good primer before tackling the Harmonic Mechanisms.

    Because the books are predominantly exercises, your main challenge will be to learn to apply the material to songs in a musical way. Steve Herberman has said that he spent five years going through these books but not full time. So it may be possible to do so more quickly. A good teacher who has been through the books would be helpful in showing you how to apply what you learn.

    Listening to as many Van Eps recordings as possible would be a great help to hear how he used these concepts. Van Eps practiced what he preached and played what he practiced.

    Regards,
    monk

  20. #19

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    You may want to hold off on all 3...The first one could keep anyone busy for years!!!!

  21. #20

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    I have these books and have spent a lot of time going through them. They are terrific books for a very advanced student who is interested in voicing and movement of the voices within chord progressions. IMHO, they are very thorough, very time consuming and very worthwhile for a dedicated chord melody enthusiast.

    wiz

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by dcfrost78
    Monk, do you recommend the ebook or just take the dive off the deep end?
    dcfrost78,
    I apologise for not responding to this sooner. I received an eMail this morning about a recent post to this thread and saw your question from December.

    The George Van Eps Guitar Method is 40 pages and has some specifics on studying and picking that aren't in the Harmonic Mechanisms. There are also a few exercises that don't appear in HM. The GVEGM is a concise method. GVEHM is an exhaustive method. Both require thinking on the student's part in regard to application. The GVEGM occasionally shows up on eBay, sometimes at a reasonable price. The eBook will probably be cheaper unless you find a great deal.

    The GVEGM was Van Eps' only instructional work for 40 years and plenty of guitarists learned enough from it to become good chord soloists.

    Regards,
    monk

  23. #22

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    I think I have most of his books including one that has been out of print for many, many years. He was my first influence for playing chord melody back in the early 50's. Howard Roberts introduced me to George at one of the NAMM shows, 1979, I think. Yes, He did influence many good players including Howard Roberts, Ted Greene, Jimmy Wyble and Howard Alden. When I moved to Los Angeles in 1965, I wanted to take lessons from him but he was not accepting any students at that time. I ended up studying with Ted Green for a few months prior to enrolling at G.I.T. and then with Howard Roberts for about a year. After G.I.T. graduation, I took lessons from Jimmy Wyble (1978-79) before moving back to Arizona in 1980.

    wiz
    Last edited by wizard3739; 04-17-2011 at 04:40 PM.

  24. #23

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    Question--are these books written for the 7 string guitar specifically in mind, including the relevant fingerings associated with the 7 string?

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by NSJ
    Question--are these books written for the 7 string guitar specifically in mind, including the relevant fingerings associated with the 7 string?
    The GVE Method and Harmonic Mechanism are written for six string guitar. Everything in the books can be applied to seven string, if you wish.

    Remember that from 1938 to 1969, George Van Eps was pretty much the only seven string guitar player out there. When Gretsch started manufacturing the GVE Model was when Bucky Pizzarelli and other players started taking up seven string. Most of Van Eps' students over the years were six string players.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk
    The GVE Method and Harmonic Mechanism are written for six string guitar. Everything in the books can be applied to seven string, if you wish.

    Remember that from 1938 to 1969, George Van Eps was pretty much the only seven string guitar player out there. When Gretsch started manufacturing the GVE Model was when Bucky Pizzarelli and other players started taking up seven string. Most of Van Eps' students over the years were six string players.
    ah thanks for the prompt response--makes sense--music is music.

    just asked because I consolidated my guitars, getting rid of a few, down to a few. But I did add a guitar, coming next week, an El Rey -1 7 string.

    Looking forward to it. and this book, which I will now order. I appreciate the feedback on this. Cheers.

  27. #26

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    My volume 1 arrived yesterday, and today I wound up showing it to my teacher, and he immediately recognized it, blurting out, "ah yes, the Bible!" and then, several times that Mr. van Eps is a true "genius"--you could spend years on a single page or two. many people never finish a book, he says, given the enormous amount of material in it.

    Mr. Van Eps apparently told him many years ago that the final exited versions of the 3 volumes were much smaller than the original texts, which were like "phone books".

    so, yeah, the "Bible" immediately deserves a prominent place in my music library. I can get no stronger recommendation than that.

  28. #27

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    In 1980 Ted Greene interviewed Van Eps for Guitar magazine. You can read a copy of the article here: TedGreene.com - The Legacy Of Ted Greene Lives On
    Even better you can hear the actual tapes of the interview, I strongly recommend them.

    In the interview Van Eps points out that he wouldn't expect anyone to go through every page of his books and milk them for all they are worth. He states that the most important thing is to understand the concepts contained in the various sections and explore them as far as you wish. From my experience I would say that you should study the first part of Vol I of Harmonic Mechanisms which contains the basic triad scales. Once you have done that you can study the rest of the material in just about any order.

    IMHO these books are the best way to understand the guitar fingerboard and the full harmonic capabilities of the instrument. If you experiment and simply fool around with the studies it will open your ears and you could be amazed at what you come up with.

  29. #28

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    I want to rescue this post in order to ask about the book content.
    It is "only" about triads or he covers other voicings?
    It is more about comping or about soloing?

    Thanks in advance for your answers.

  30. #29

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    I only have vol. 1.

    It is not only about triads, but maybe try and see it as a written out collection of diatonic groups and voicings. You will not learn anything about comping or soloing, it is more a collection of exercises to help you have an overview of the guitar harmonically.

    It is very extensive and very thorough and very long.

    Jens

    Edit: but also very good

  31. #30

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    the sun will explode and the earth whither away before I could work all the way through the Harmonic Mechanism Series...Van Epps a True Master

  32. #31

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    I expected some musical examples, not another tone of work to do.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by sjl
    I expected some musical examples, not another tone of work to do.
    If so, those books were not targeted at you. They are indeed a ton of work, not intended as an easy shortcut to some licks.

    As for the "out of print" posts above, all three volumes are in stock at Amazon.
    Last edited by oldane; 09-16-2012 at 09:23 AM.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by sjl
    I expected some musical examples, not another tone of work to do.
    Doing a ton of work is necessary to becoming a good musician.

  35. #34

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    I know but I try to make the work funnier.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk
    Doing a ton of work is necessary to becoming a good musician.
    I finally succumbed to this book.
    All my ways go to Van Eps.
    Too much work but a good one.

    By the way.
    The only instructional material about Van Eps approach (appart from Van Eps books) are Herberman's classes and a very little part in Randy Vincent's three note voicings and beyond.
    Do you know something more?
    Any example of Van Eps kind of comping?
    P.S. I am not saying Herberman material is not good, sure is excellent, it is just for knowing.

  37. #36

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    For anyone who has worked on this book how do you recommend to go through this material? There is a vast amount of information in the books and it looks kind of overwhelming - how should one deal with the material? Random parts or from beginning to end (chronologically I suppose)?

  38. #37

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    One page at a time....every note on every page...

    It takes some time but after one scale is memorized the rest follow suit...

    Good deep stuff....for the discipline of mind and fingers...

    The open position chords I have come to use from time to time in my comping...

    time on the instrument...

  39. #38

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    I echo what pierre has said. I am methodically working through the series. I've been at it for several months and am just now finishing up the closed-form triads (basically, through page 44). It's very slow going, but this stuff WILL solidify your playing and add depth of harmonic content. My teacher, Steve Herberman, tells me that he spent a good 5 years working on this stuff every day before he got through all 3 books. So just take it slow and easy, and be consistent.

    Also pay special attention to the little "excerpt" exercises (e.g. Vol 1 pages 31, 35, 47)...work those exercises through all keys and pay specific attention to the fingerings. The whole point of a lot of this material is to get you to start playing moving lines through static harmony. You want to be able to add nice, moving inner and outer lines while holding a given chord for a measure or two - for example, major tonic chord movement might go from Maj7 to dom7 to Maj6. This is basically the CESH concept (chromatic elaboration of static harmony) and works great behind singers as they breathe; at turnarounds; while a soloist holds a note or pauses; etc.

    Specifically regarding triads (which I am REALLY getting into these days), you should also look at Bergonzi's hexatonics book (Vol 7 in his series). There are some really great exercises in there that will transform your understanding and application of triads on the fretboard. Plus, the exercises are fun.

  40. #39

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    In an interview conducted by Ted Greene for Guitar Player magazine in August 1981, Vans Eps answered your question. While it is certainly true that moving sequentially through the book will certainly take you into another realm of understanding, that isn't how Vans Eps designed the books.

    Pierre and Jeff have given you some excellent advice here. I am only providing another viewpoint as expressed by GVE himself.

    I think that what you do with the information is a critical factor. It's very important to find ways to to use this information as you learn it. The payoff is being able to use these mechanisms for chord solong and accompaniment.

    I've included a link to the Ted Greene website where you can read the interview with George Van Eps.

    http://tedgreene.com/images/pdf/TedG..._Interview.pdf

  41. #40

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    I had heard that too, but for me, if not to work through sequentially, then how would I know what to work on? In any case, I'll continue, as I'm finding value in the exercises.

    Steve Herberman told me that when George died, they had several stacks of lesson material from floor to ceiling. The 3 massive Harmonic Mechanism books are the "condensed" versions of those. :-)

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by FatJeff
    I had heard that too, but for me, if not to work through sequentially, then how would I know what to work on? In any case, I'll continue, as I'm finding value in the exercises.

    Steve Herberman told me that when George died, they had several stacks of lesson material from floor to ceiling. The 3 massive Harmonic Mechanism books are the "condensed" versions of those. :-)
    I'm not disagreeing with you or Pierre. However, if you read the interview, you'll note that Van Eps states that ALL the material is interrelated and can be approached nonsequentially. Obviously, front to back has worked well for Steve. You can't argue with results.

  43. #42

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    Yes, I didn't mean to imply that there was any argument. For me, I work best when I just start at Page 1 (even if that was chosen arbitrarily), and go on from there.

    If I could end up sounding anything like either GVE *OR* SH, I'd be happy!

  44. #43

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    Is the book still in print?

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by jdaguitar2
    Is the book still in print?
    Books!

    Harmonic Mechanisms by George Van Eps. Publisher: Mel Bay. Three volumes. 897 pages. A hair over two inches thick when stacked. Pricey but if you're serious, they're worth every penny. IMHO, the most comprehensive work on fingerboard harmony and fingering ever written.

  46. #45

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    My teacher is 76 years old and still practices from these books. When I saw this book on his music stand, he quite simply referred to it as 'the Bible'. Keep in mind, he is not well known at all, but is recognized by the very best jazz and classical guitarists in the world as a true master. So, if he's still practicing from this book.... well, He always says that we--all of us--will always be students. Music is a multiple lifetime endeavor. Him practicing on the v. Eps book is tangible proof.

    He said you could spend a crap load of time on one page alone. One frickin' page. One tangible thing I got from working on one page that I have tried to incorporate into my playing is the simple idea of moving from triad inversion to inversion and simply moving one voice (e.g., the 5th) up and down.

    I usually pick a page (usually involving a major scale pattern) and work on it for a good long time--in all keys.

    I love how Mr. v. Eps emphasizes, in the introduction, the unity of the musical concepts and the mechanical (technical) aspects of being able to play the musical stuff with fluency. So true. That's why you could spend weeks on a single page. Many decades ago, Mr. v. Eps told my teacher personally that these books are actually heavily edited--per Mel Bay's request--the original size were the size of phone books.

    This book is living proof that we--all of us--will always be students.

  47. #46

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    I am currently working his first book 'The George van Eps Method for Guitar', which is available as a .pdf purchase from djangobooks.com. It was recommended as a foundation level entry into the more exhaustive material in 'Harmonic Mechanisms'.

  48. #47

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    You can buy the physical books on Amazon:




  49. #48

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    Here's why I think Mr. v. Eps advice is best utilized, as he mentions in the forward: "this material is intended to add to one's present knowledge. It's meant to blend in with it, not denounce it, or take its place, because all learning and experience is valuable. In other words, for those with previous schooling, this material can be supplemental information".

    Thus, you can jump in at various points. Take a look at the example I've posted. it's taken from page 51. it's only the very first part--in C. The whole study takes up 2 pages, from pp. 51-53, and is done in all 12 keys, both in major and minor.

    The title says: "Scale in open root triads--tonic down one octave-12 keys--full range upper interval= 3rds--lower = 10ths--overall 12ths.

    Looks daunting. And it is. But look at it again. What is this? Where have we encountered this before? We have! It's nearly identical to a common drop 3 grip many of us already know (1-7-3-5)---but it omits the 7th. When we look at it this way, we can use the information we already know and have no doubt practiced to help us with this musical exercise.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  50. #49

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    I am so happy that this thread got some replies after a silent start. Thanks for the advice. Right now I am just playing the inversions of triads through the major, harmonic and melodic minor scale. I will check out new material slowly but each task in the book could take forever (all inversions in all keys and positions/string sets can be practiced for months)
    Last edited by yaclaus; 04-13-2013 at 02:00 AM.

  51. #50

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    Hello. Recently I bought Harmonic Mechanisms by George Van Eps and decided that I want to start working with it. I have worked with "GVE Guitar Method" which is less daunting than HM. I didn't finish it but I got a pretty good idea of what is going on. Now, that I have access to Harmonic Mechanisms I would like to get soome advice to how I should approach the exercises in this book. In the "GVE Guitar Method" there was advice given as to how to approach the material and how to practise, however in HM there is no such section.

    So, I started doing exercises and covered the keys of C, F, and Bb in the first exercise. What should be the focus of this exercise? In other words, what should be given all attention to? The physical technique? Should I rememer the fingerings as they are? Should I name the triads in my head (like it's in the book above the notes Dm, Em etc)? Should I always read the notes or when I learn them practise without the book? Should I name the notes when I practise away from book?
    When do I know that I can move to another key or next exercises?

    I would like to hear your suggestions.
    Thank you.
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