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  1. #1

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    I just started working through this book and would like to share that process with other people , so who's working on the book right now ?

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  3. #2

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    Hi there Mooncef,

    I am working through the first volume of Harmonic Mechanisms. I started some time ago; the truth is that I am taking my time with it. I am working on the harmonic minor root triads exercises, 1st inversion open triads, and the 3 to 6 up section. The deeper I delve, the more important a total mastery of triads seems to me, so I have actually been reluctant to move along too quickly. Taking a page from the Kenny Werner playbook, I want to completely internalize the triads and view them as a collection of independent voices. I plan on doing the triad chord scale exercises with a metronome up until the point that it becomes completely automatic, where I am able to play through a chord scale in any key with the same facility that I might play a major scale.

    Regarding the independent voices thing, I realized that this is the most important aspect of the Van Eps approach, so I have also been doing two voice exercises in order to manage multiple voices in my head at the same time, e.g. practicing scales in 3rds or 6ths while skipping around the fretboard, while "keeping tabs" mentally on the two voices.

    What did you have in mind for your study group?

    Cheers,
    David

    P.S. If you haven't done so already, you will want to check out "The George Van Eps Transcriptions" put out free by Jordi Farrés, a guitarist based in Barcelona. There are Van Eps arrangements of The Man I Love, Cheek to Cheek, Ain´t Misbehavin´, etc. and all for 6 string guitar! You can see just how extensively Van Eps uses triads in the arrangements, and the voice leading is phenomenal.

  4. #3

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    Mooncef, I am toiling away with Harmonic Mechanisms, Vol. 1. It is tedious but i think time well spent. I do need to use it as an adjunct, not my exclusive focus, otherwise I may have to be locked up, physically restrained, and heavily medicated.

    I think the key word/concept here is mechanisms. GVE goes to great length to demonstrate that efficiency and strategic use of fingerings is a big part of fluid playing. His analogy of hopping on one leg vs walking with 2 makes a lot of sense as we contemplate the guitar fingerings that we use in a line. The process is hard and draining, both physically and mentally. i am taking it slow, on about page 45 after 1 year. It is helpful in that I am hearing the triads in a different way and can pick them out more when I hear piano players, other guitarists, etc. I am also starting to take note of the fingerings that I use, and how they can be made more efficient,
    even when it seems like a step backward to relearn a progression. The other piece is the ability to have fingers available to play melody lines, cliches, etc. along with the triads.

    Deep stuff, not for the faint of heart. The support of other players/students of the instrument would be most helpful. i don't know how we start with a study group other than to communicate and compare notes, but I am in.

    BTW, I enjoyed your other post on playing a chorus in 1 position.

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Wes Green
    Mooncef, I am toiling away with Harmonic Mechanisms, Vol. 1. It is tedious but i think time well spent. I do need to use it as an adjunct, not my exclusive focus, otherwise I may have to be locked up, physically restrained, and heavily medicated.

    I think the key word/concept here is mechanisms. GVE goes to great length to demonstrate that efficiency and strategic use of fingerings is a big part of fluid playing. His analogy of hopping on one leg vs walking with 2 makes a lot of sense as we contemplate the guitar fingerings that we use in a line. The process is hard and draining, both physically and mentally. i am taking it slow, on about page 45 after 1 year. It is helpful in that I am hearing the triads in a different way and can pick them out more when I hear piano players, other guitarists, etc. I am also starting to take note of the fingerings that I use, and how they can be made more efficient,
    even when it seems like a step backward to relearn a progression. The other piece is the ability to have fingers available to play melody lines, cliches, etc. along with the triads.

    Deep stuff, not for the faint of heart. The support of other players/students of the instrument would be most helpful. i don't know how we start with a study group other than to communicate and compare notes, but I am in.

    BTW, I enjoyed your other post on playing a chorus in 1 position.
    Thanks man !!
    I'm still stuck in page one , the exercise playing 3rds , 4ths etc with walking two fingers, i'm doing my best not to get bored though , so any tip on how you started the book , the book is actualy hard to open and say , i will start it today it's so intimidating

  6. #5

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    As mentioned elsewhere, Van Eps did not expect you to start on Page 1, but dive in anywhere that takes your interest. It's more like a three-volume encyclopaedia.

  7. #6

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    I found it to be helpful to read the preliminary remarks and diagram lay outs a couple of times before starting to play these triad scales. Mr. Van Epps is astute and precise in what is he trying to accomplish and it is important to get the mind set that he is trying to establish for the student. I find myself working through maybe 3 or 4 of the triad scales for a scale, i.e., major, harmonic minor, or melodic minor at a sitting, even though they are laid out in all 12 keys per scale/inversion. This amount is about 30-40 minutes of work for me. So, if things go well, I could work through a scale/inversion in about 4 days.

    After getting through the first 2 inversions, I decided to go back to the beginning and reread the preliminary remarks/directions and start over with the first inversion scales. I am working hard to not short cut this approach. Once again, the key element here is the mechanics and developing the ability to use different fingerings as VE suggests. Also, after putting this away for a while, I have restarted again, and yes, once again going over the instructions and starting at the first inversion scales. And, I am now working with a metronome set at 60-64 and start with whole notes and for the 2nd time through during the same practice session I try my luck with half notes with the fingerings feeling a little more familiar. No short cuts, and an attitude of patience and optimism is my credo with this one.

    I normally do not work this diligently, but I have optimism here on two fronts, one; I believe that this work is important as it will provide me with a better understanding of theory as well as solid mechanics in my playing, and, two; that I can in fact do this. With respect to the previous poster, I do not agree that one can pick and choose where to start and stop with this approach. Start from the beginning and you will gain something meaningful. You can then take it as far as you care to. Fluidity, facility, sight reading, ear training, it's all there and is available by the painstaking work of a great master. Martial arts training on the guitar. Truly a zen experience. One day at a time, one inversion at a time, one scale at a time, one triad at a time. Gulp!!!

  8. #7

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    Although I was the previous poster, you are in fact disagreeing with George Van Eps, as I was just passing on what he said. But it's a small point. I wish you well with your studies. I'm still drawing from the deep well that is his first Guitar Method, a much slimmer volume, but with many useful things in it.

  9. #8

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    Hey fellas. Slightly off topic. But I've read that Rosenwinkel
    has done work from this book. For those who have this book can you hear the relation? Obviously Kurt has his own unique style in which he plays harmony, I'm mainly referring to his playing the album "reflections". To be honest I've never been a huge chord melody guy but the balance that Kurt has on those tunes is unbelievable and that album has brought on tears many times
    But I'm wondering if those who have this book can hear the GVE influence?
    Last edited by Irwin1993; 08-09-2016 at 09:30 AM.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wes Green
    ....... I do not agree that one can pick and choose where to start and stop with this approach.
    Wes,
    You are free to believe what you like and work on this as you like. However Van Eps did state otherwise.

    This link, TedGreene.com - Audio - Ted Greene, George Van Eps Interview will take you to the interview with Van Eps that Ted Greene did for Guitar Player magazine. On the sixth page of the interview Van Eps answers the question "How do you recommend people approach your book?". The audio recordings of the interview, which contain much that didn't make it into the magazine, are there for the listening.

    However you choose to approach Harmonic Mechanisms the rewards will be great.

    Regards,
    Jerome

  11. #10

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    Good comments and insights provided. My aim here is to be able to discuss how we are able to use and make the best use of the HM material. The OP is proposing a HM study group.

    I'm all for people being able to take what you want and leave the rest. For me, this book, is all about developing sound mechanics (core strength, range of motion, flexibility), good playing habits, a better understanding of harmony, and how to accomplish new things on the guitar that are seemingly not possible based on my present abilities. This seems to be a really good method and structure to achieve these goals. I've had the book for years, but have not until recently entertained the idea of making a commitment to work with the book. I have been playing guitar for a quite a while. I understand basic theory, chords, triads, etc. I also understand that it is really easy for me to tell (delude) myself that I intellectually understand something and can therefore move on to something else. When in fact, understanding or knowing a musical concept does not translate to having it in my bones, or muscle memory, or being able to apply the concept in a playing or performance situation.

    I appreciate the link to the interview. After reading, my esteem for GVE is elevated even higher. My take is that GVE well understood and appreciated the vastness and daunting nature of the HM material, along with the reality that life is too short to do it all. In addition to being very astute, he comes across as being very kind, advising students to pick and choose what is important to work on. But, in the book (HM vol.1), GVE certainly makes the case that progress involves getting out of your comfort zone and working on things that are "a little above and out of reach". And, "one must not expect to jump from first to eighth grade material for that is the sure path to disappointment". For me, in the spirit of the discussion of a HM study group that is what I wish to focus on. As I had said earlier, this is not the only guitar thing that I am working on. But I do see the value of putting some work in to this and challenging myself. You may see it differently.

    My apologies for carrying on here. Guitar is truly my passion and I get pretty charged up. It is good to be able to write it out sometimes. I appreciate your time and patience.

    Rob, I looked at your website and you are great! Your DADGAD materials and your acoustic playing is simply wonderful. Very musical indeed.

    Let's get on with how we can proceed w/ HM.

  12. #11

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    Wes,
    As I've stated in other threads on GVE's books, it's extremely important, in my opinion, to seek out recordings of Van Eps playing in order to gain the benefit of hearing the mechanisms applied in the real world framework of actual music.

    For me, the big ear-opener was hearing GVE's plectrum work from the Thirties through the early Fifties. Superimposing triads to achieve a richer, more sophisticated harmonic sound in his solos than other players of the time. By using simple triads to solo, he was able to achieve amazing facility while also creating the sound of seventh, ninths, elevenths and altered chords.
    Regards,
    Jerome

  13. #12

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    Here's what I did.

    I went through all three volumes, and put a sticky tab at the beginning of each new section/exercise.

    Then I would pick a key, and work through the all different exercises in each key (all the exercises in C major, for instance).

    I found it a lot more manageable to go through different exercises in the same key, rather than going through each exercise in all 12 keys. Later, of course, I would go back and play through the other keys.

    Naturally, your mileage may vary, but I found that I was able to stay much more focused and interested this way.

  14. #13

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    Dasein, Thank You! This is the type of discussion pertaining to the experience of working with the Harmonic Mechanisms material that is really helpful.

  15. #14

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    I just got this book, is anyone else working from it these days?

  16. #15
    This book is very scary to pick realy , that's why it would help and maybe inspire other people to join if we organise things in a 2 or 3 days fashion , pick an exercise and we work through it record and share .
    What do you think ?

  17. #16
    So i opened the book today , and was completly LOST , found it very discouraging !
    how do you start this book guys ?

  18. #17

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    @moon
    I read the forward and introduction thoroughly. And then I began working through 1st inv scales in triads. I just got done with the major. Took me about two weeks. I've really been focusing on the minor details such as the fingers. You'll notice quickly how his emphasis on versatility of all the fingers positively affects your playing. ALSO Howard Alden lives around here I saw he was Co hosting a local jam that I always go to. I made it a point to go with the intention discussing this book. Long story short Howard told me like others have implied , GVE never meant this to be a start to finish type thing. He said that GVE said pick something you like, work on it for a bit. Then close the book for a bit.

  19. #18

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    Also I was just thinking. After I got this book it took me a week to open up, due to its intimidating aura. Like anything else, you just got to start. I try to go into my practicing it with positivity and open mindedness because it's still really intimidating.

  20. #19

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    I just got the 3 volume set not too long ago and like others I'm struggling with where to start. It would be great if someone can recommend a chapter that was either relatively easier to learn or particularly engaging.


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  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by louistopat
    I just got the 3 volume set not too long ago and like others I'm struggling with where to start. It would be great if someone can recommend a chapter that was either relatively easier to learn or particularly engaging.
    louistopat,
    How long have you been playing? How well do you know the diatonic triads from the Major, Harmonic Minor and Melodic Minor scales? Can you play chord melodies, chord solos and competent accompaniment?

    The first 28 pages of Volume One are preliminary explanations and general remarks.

    The playing begins on page 29 with first inversion triads from all three scales in twelve keys, then moves to second inversion triads followed by root position triads, then open triad voicings. This gets you to page 55 where the study of triad arpeggios begins and continues through page 63. This is fundamental and necessary information for being able to navigate the rest of Volumes One, Two and Three.

    The thing to remember is that the key word in "Harmonic Mechanisms" is Mechanisms. These volumes are Van Eps' compilation of a lifetime of solving the fingering problems inherent in playing harmony on guitar. In the first section of Volume One, pages 28 through 63, you will find that he sometimes uses different fingerings from one exercise to the next. He does this to illustrate that there are more than just one way to do things.

    These volumes won't teach you to play chord melody or accompaniment. What they will do, if you're willing to do the work, is teach you to think, deeply, about what you're doing and how to solve problems in your own playing.

    How you use the information, the practical on the bandstand application, is up to you.
    Regards,
    Jerome

  22. #21

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    Perhaps this is the copyeditor in me, but... I think a useful first step for all three volumes can be the creation of an adequate table of contents (don't get me started on the editorial problems with these books. Mel Bay did GVE no great favor by publishing them as-is). It helps one see the structure and topics more clearly. Even better might be the kind of table of contents that was more often done in the distant past---when the contents of each chapter would be summarized in a line or two in the table of contents.

    I've tried over the decades (I bought volume one when it first came out...) to work through this material both by picking-and-choosing topics (the result of doing the t-of-c building I suggest above), and by starting at Volume 1 Page 1 and daring myself to march resolutely, moving that bookmark forward a page at a time.

    That neither approach has resulted in me mastering this material speaks more to the fragmented nature of my path as a guitarist, than it does to the value of GVE's great opus. It's always helpful, and inspiring, to encounter a new thread on this topic.

    Could any of you suggest specific recordings to search for, for the mid-1930s to 1950s work? I've got the later-in-life Concord CDs. They're good, but...

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk
    louistopat,
    How long have you been playing? How well do you know the diatonic triads from the Major, Harmonic Minor and Melodic Minor scales? Can you play chord melodies, chord solos and competent accompaniment?

    The first 28 pages of Volume One are preliminary explanations and general remarks.

    The playing begins on page 29 with first inversion triads from all three scales in twelve keys, then moves to second inversion triads followed by root position triads, then open triad voicings. This gets you to page 55 where the study of triad arpeggios begins and continues through page 63. This is fundamental and necessary information for being able to navigate the rest of Volumes One, Two and Three.

    The thing to remember is that the key word in "Harmonic Mechanisms" is Mechanisms. These volumes are Van Eps' compilation of a lifetime of solving the fingering problems inherent in playing harmony on guitar. In the first section of Volume One, pages 28 through 63, you will find that he sometimes uses different fingerings from one exercise to the next. He does this to illustrate that there are more than just one way to do things.

    These volumes won't teach you to play chord melody or accompaniment. What they will do, if you're willing to do the work, is teach you to think, deeply, about what you're doing and how to solve problems in your own playing.

    How you use the information, the practical on the bandstand application, is up to you.
    Regards,
    Jerome
    Jerome,
    Thanks a lot for the response. I now see how the first 63 pages would be a good place to start.

    Although I've been playing off and on since 3rd grade, I'm new to Jazz and have a basic understanding of major and minor key harmony. I know about 30 chord melodies from the books by Stein, Yelin, and Coates. I bought the GVE books in the hopes they would help me expand on what I've learned while helping me transition to playing finger style. I'm intrigued by his use of triads. I also recognize how valuable these books are and I'm afraid they might not be in publication much longer.

    Thanks,
    Rob




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  24. #23

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    Well, we have a team of frustrated guitar players with current and past attempts to work on HM, which we know is a challenge. Maybe working together as the OP suggests and sharing our insights and and try to find our way with this material will be helpful. Yes, the zen of HM! Let's select a starting point, an approach, and begin. Revamp our process as needed. Maybe it would be good to have a medical team and a licensed therapist on board to deal with the fall out!

  25. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Wes Green
    Well, we have a team of frustrated guitar players with current and past attempts to work on HM, which we know is a challenge. Maybe working together as the OP suggests and sharing our insights and and try to find our way with this material will be helpful. Yes, the zen of HM! Let's select a starting point, an approach, and begin. Revamp our process as needed. Maybe it would be good to have a medical team and a licensed therapist on board to deal with the fall out!
    I just started with the 1st 2nd 3rd inversion of Cmajor scale triades in page 11 ! is that where it starts normaly ?
    it's a good exercise i think that should be the starting point ! then we move on !

  26. #25
    Do the first inversion exercises in page 29 have specific constraints for strings sets like described in the page before or is it free ?

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by mooncef
    I just started with the 1st 2nd 3rd inversion of Cmajor scale triades in page 11 ! is that where it starts normaly ?
    it's a good exercise i think that should be the starting point ! then we move on !
    Everything up to page 29 is just general remarks and explanations. You should read those pages as many times as necessary to make certain you completely understand what he is saying. The work begins on page 29.

    Quote Originally Posted by mooncef
    Do the first inversion exercises in page 29 have specific constraints for strings sets like described in the page before or is it free ?
    It isn't free.

    The exercises beginning on page 29 have definite string set markings. These exercises are the basis for everything that comes after. You should practice and memorize those before attempting to make up your own fingerings. If you practice and internalize everything from page 29 through page 63 you will have learned, hopefully, everything you need to approach the remainder of the volumes in an effective manner.

  28. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by monk
    Everything up to page 29 is just general remarks and explanations. You should read those pages as many times as necessary to make certain you completely understand what he is saying. The work begins on page 29.



    It isn't free.

    The exercises beginning on page 29 have definite string set markings. These exercises are the basis for everything that comes after. You should practice and memorize those before attempting to make up your own fingerings. If you practice and internalize everything from page 29 through page 63 you will have learned, hopefully, everything you need to approach the remainder of the volumes in an effective manner.
    Alright i've done the C major 1 inversion exercise ! with the exact fingerings and strings set .. the first chord have no string sets prescribe i bet since there aren't many choices so the first chord was F A D so i continued in this string set
    until the next string set was indicated , i also infered that a string set stays unless a new one is stated !
    i realy liked the exercise ! i will work on the next key tomorrow

  29. #28

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    in learning inversions on all string sets in all keys in all possible voicing's close and open ..and starting the scale from any note in any of these inversions in all possible intervals 3rds 5ths 7ths 9ths 11 and 13 is the essence of these studies..while not a chord melody study..it IS a study in moving voices and their harmonic relationships..

    the old adage: a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step..just as a guitarist learning a C chord if you never played one before can be a challenge..

    many must wonder how much time it took for guys like VE or Greene to acquire and "learn" the vast amount of information and then apply it to the guitar..(just putting the material together to write the books they did must have taken years of full time workweeks-they didn't use computers!)

    in looking at it from a distance they built information on preceding information..alot of numerical and musical "logic" is used in almost all exercises..the fingerings and string choices may be debated..but not the notes..

    the exercise using the notes F A D is a D minor inversion in the key of C..you will see it again in the key of Bb etc..the lesson is to view the voices in these studies and learn to "move them" in melodic bits..

    fast forward..after this type of info is digested and becomes "mechanical" is will be much easier to pick out a melodic phrase while playing through the chords..thus chord melody..

    as Greene points out in chord chemistry..some know how to play a lot of chords..but don't how to use them...its better to know how to play a few chords and know how to use them..and of course..how to play a lot of chords AND know how to use them...

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulHintz
    Perhaps this is the copyeditor in me, but... I think a useful first step for all three volumes can be the creation of an adequate table of contents (don't get me started on the editorial problems with these books. Mel Bay did GVE no great favor by publishing them as-is). It helps one see the structure and topics more clearly. Even better might be the kind of table of contents that was more often done in the distant past---when the contents of each chapter would be summarized in a line or two in the table of contents.

    I've tried over the decades (I bought volume one when it first came out...) to work through this material both by picking-and-choosing topics (the result of doing the t-of-c building I suggest above), and by starting at Volume 1 Page 1 and daring myself to march resolutely, moving that bookmark forward a page at a time.

    That neither approach has resulted in me mastering this material speaks more to the fragmented nature of my path as a guitarist, than it does to the value of GVE's great opus. It's always helpful, and inspiring, to encounter a new thread on this topic.

    Could any of you suggest specific recordings to search for, for the mid-1930s to 1950s work? I've got the later-in-life Concord CDs. They're good, but...
    I mentioned it in an earlier post, but you can make your own sort of "Table of Contents" by just putting a Post-It or sticky tab at the beginning of each section.

    I think it's much easier to work through a number of different exercises in the same key, rather than working through one exercise in all 12 keys. Helps with the tedium, but that's just me.

    As far as recordings go, look for GVE's small group recordings on Jump Records. Sadly, I think they're out of print, but you can find tracks on YouTube.


  31. #30

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    The Van Eps/Miller/Wrightson recordings on Jump have been re-released under the title Once In Awhile with additional takes.

    Back in the 80s the original album was released by the Allegheny Jazz Society and the additional takes were released as a second LP. I have both of those but this new CD combines all 22 cuts on one CD.

    Here's a link to a seller. I got my CD from Amazon. It's out there for anyone who wants it.
    George Van Eps : Once in Awhile CD (2014) - Jump Records | OLDIES.com

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk
    Wes,
    You are free to believe what you like and work on this as you like. However Van Eps did state otherwise
    hi all, interesting discussion. I’m on page 30 of vol 1. I have Ted Greene’s books and went through dozens of pages of each but this book has enticed me away and I’m focused. There’s something about his frank presentation and thoughtfulness in exercises. Just this very first one. Page 29/30. He changes up the fingerings each key, and the keys are ordered descending circle of 5ths. By going through each key, you learn to play even the same chords at different positions, with different fingerings, and in different contexts. I can’t imagine you’d get the same lessons just posting stickies and going through the book on the same key. Now, Ted Greene stuck to a key at a time except on Modern Chord Progressions. But he was emphatic to transpose to all keys. Van Epps just chose, in ye olde mindset, to guide you through all this. It’s intimidating this way but the most value really does appear to me to go through the book in order. He wasn’t redundant in each key within a given lesson - each subsequent key changes it up a little and provides a new scenario to experiment with transitions. Sorry, but regardless of what Van Epps said to, surely, a smirking Ted Greene (who made it clear to go in order for his books), it seems clear to me he didn’t write what he considered an encyclopedia (at the time). He wrote lessons. My votes on going in order. You in a hurry somewhere? Haha.