Book Review: Triad Pairs – The First Step by Tony Greaves

This is the second E-book released by Tony Greaves. You can read my review of his first book here: Book Review: Guide to Developing a Chromatic Approach to Improvisation by Tony Greaves

This new work by Tony Greaves includes:

  • A 35-page E-book
  • A 41-minute instructional video
  • A Podcast version of the video
  • A 15-minute podcast outlining Tony’s personal process of learning triad pairs.
  • A coupon for a discounted follow-up SKYPE lesson with Tony Greaves

Topics Covered:

  • What is a triad pair?
  • How to determine a triad pair’s origin
  • How to layout a triad pair on the guitar neck
  • How to play triad pairs in multiple directions
  • How to voice-lead triad pairs in every inversion and position
  • How to create 4-Note Groupings
  • Applying your first triad pair to a variety of harmonic contexts
  • Applying your first triad pair over a static vamp
  • Applying your first triad pair over a standard blues
  • Applying your first triad pair over a jazz standard (There Will Never Be Another You)

Tony also mentions that those who purchase The First Step will be invited to a private online workshop (date to be determined) in order to help facilitate further development in these studies.

First impressions

Firstly, for USD$20, you’re getting a lot of material to work on here. I’m really happy that Tony did a guitar specific take on this topic with logical fingerings and covered it in a musical context. I’ve seen so many really dry surface level articles or posts about this topic all over the Internet. The fingerings included in Tony’s examples are extremely helpful and include the various permutations for combining triad pairs in a systematic way.

The first time I studied the material, I read through all the musical examples. They are super organised so even if you’ve never really gotten into triad pairs (or have no idea what they are), you’re in for a treat.

The E-Book

Tony is a true educator and does not pull any punches when it comes to explaining the pre-requisites for truly absorbing the material. At the very beginning of the book, he includes an extensive list of scales, modes, triad and technical requirements that go hand in hand in learning the concept. He explains that ‘Triad Pairs: The First Step” is an introductory piece that is leading to his upcoming magnum opus that he calls “Triad Pairs for Jazz Guitar”. Personally I’m really looking forward to this next one as I’ve been following Tony’s work for years and feel that he has A LOT of knowledge and insight to offer.

Another highlight in the book are the 20 Principles of Triad Pairs that distills the essence of what makes triad pairs. These principles begin with the seemingly obvious, “A Triad Pair consists of six distinctive tones-No doublings allowed!” to deeper philosophical takes on the benefits of learning triad pairs for improvisational playing.

Tony then goes into a list of possible triad pairs and 4-note grouping permutations. From page 11 to 26 (the main body of the book), we get to study a triad pair through a systematic examination of the possible permutations as applied on guitar. In this section, we get to learn the fretting hand fingerings in a very thorough manner. Tony notates the examples here in one key via these 16 pages. Serious jazz guitarists will quickly recognize that this is really about 192 pages of material once we transpose the exercises into 12 keys. Included in the E-book is a checklist so that we can make sure we practice and master each triad pair exercise in every key – very handy!

To conclude the E-book, Tony gives 3 etudes for a static vamp, a standard blues and one over the chord progression of There Will Never Be Another You.

The Video

In the very beginning of the 41-minute video, Tony goes through the principles outlined and the book becomes clearer as Tony explains the material in the book. Hearing Tony talk about the principles makes the material much more approachable. He also shares how he views the triad pair concept differently than most people. Tony doesn’t just read the principles out loud but continues to explain beyond the text in the book. As I listen to Tony’s explanations, I see the future possibilities for applying the material in book. Tony also foreshadows his future work, “Triad Pairs for Jazz Guitar” and how his previous book, “A Guide to Developing a Chromatic Approach to Improvisation” works in conjunction with this current book.

After explaining the principles, Tony demonstrates the triad pair example across the entire fretboard and the various directional variations. Seeing Tony play these examples fluidly is very helpful for me. This gives me a visual guide of how I could move my left hand in a similar manner. Very valuable stuff here!

He then demonstrates an etude over a static vamp. After that, he explains the chart included in the E-book. He also explains how to look at the material and how to play the triad pairs over different chords. The next etude over a standard blues includes a performance of it and an analysis of his single note solo over the changes.

The closing etude contains a lot of material to dig into including angular and more traditional jazz vocabulary. Once again, the analysis provides great insight into the lines in the etude.

After going through the entire video, you can also experience the content via the audio version. This is useful as you can revisit the material even during a commute or if you’re like me, when you’re doing the dishes.

Bonus Podcast

Tony includes a valuable 15 minute podcast documenting his personal experience learning the material that he teaches in this E-book. In the podcast, Tony goes through his notes from a practice session. Hearing the thought process behind his practice session during one day is really insightful. Also helpful are the actual photos of his handwritten notes that is included. Personally, I find hearing his process as a great addition to the core material. It shows the backstory and in a way the origin of this work.

Suggestions for Students

If you buy this E-book, I would suggest going through the material in this order:

  1. The E-book
  2. The Video
  3. The Bonus Podcast and Practice Notes
  4. Practice (and revisit the video and/or audio)

I definitely would recommend experiencing all the material first in an overview prior to practicing. I think this would help give the aspiring triad pair jazz improvisor an idea of the journey they are about to embark on.

Conclusion

A lot of instructional material actually does not include the instructional part. Some are just randomly assembled exercises or boring dry exercises without any relation to real music. With Tony’s new work, you’re getting not only the content (and the context) but an educator who is clearly passionate about the topic. Tony wants to challenge his students to really internalise and master the material. This is designed to help you become more successful. The material is not easy but seeing Tony’s playing (and results) it’s clearly worth the work involved!

PROS: Strong useful material with lots of things to practice. The video is extremely helpful as it turns the E-book into a guided private lesson or master class in this topic. Having video, audio and the PDF makes this an amazing learning experience.
CONS: None
TLDR: If you’ve been playing some jazz guitar, familiar with bebop and more traditional vocabulary, buy this to level up your jazz language. This is a bargain for what you’re getting.

Buy the e-book here:
Store

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