I first met Hristo Vitchev while I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area. We both had studied at San Jose State University at different times and had studied with Rick Vandivier. I even had the great pleasure of sharing the stage with Hristo once! We’ve kept in touch over time and earlier this after an e-mail conversation inquiring about his book, Hristo very kindly sent me a copy of it!
This 256-page book is a massive work filled with a lot of cool ideas and voicings. Hristo has really embraced a guitaristic way of approaching voicings. Dividing the chord shapes into left expansion, central expansion and right expansion – this fingering-centric approach actually naturally opens up different intervallic possibilities for the guitar shapes. Then, he divides the chapters into major, minor and two dominant chord chapters over 3 string sets. Interestingly enough, this is quite an elegant approach to go beyond the arranging based (drop-2, drop-3, drop-2&4) voicings approach that most guitarists may be more familiar with.
In this book, I find that it’s more about intervals, colors and the physical possibility of executing the sound. Knowing Hristo though, a lot of the voicings present wide stretches in order to access interesting intervals. This is definitely a book that is worth checking out after you get your fundamentals down. This isn’t really a book for beginners though you might still benefit by buying a copy now for your personal library. As your skills develop, this book will be a valuable reference to open up your creative outlook on harmony for the guitar.
For a sample of Hristo’s way of thinking harmonically, check out this free 3-part lesson series from his YouTube channel. Also, you can also purchase a video lesson of him teaching the concepts from the book here: http://www.jazzguitarsociety.com/masterclasses/hristo-vitchev-harmonic-expansion/
If you’re curious about Hristo’s playing, please check out my previous blog post compiling his warm up routines: Hristo Vitchev 21 Daily Warm Ups For Jazz Guitar
Pros: A lot of material to work on. Good diagrams, a systematic approach once you understand the main concept.
Cons: The material may be overwhelming (it was for me at the very beginning). Also, the left hand stretches are challenging!
TLDR: For anyone looking for a very guitaristic, visual way of building new voicings, Hristo’s book may provide a lot of new food for thought. It will require a lot of work (the voicings are physically demanding with the stretches at times) but if you want new sounds, this may be a way to expand your harmonic vocabulary.
This book was a gift from Hristo to me. Thanks Hristo!
How to Buy:
You can purchase book here from Hristo. Please tell him you found out about the book this post, if you do get it too! 🙂 https://gumroad.com/l/LmWPx
[Read more Book Reviews]
Book Review: Voicing Modes – A Chord Voicing Approach to Hearing and Practicing Modes by Noel Johnston
Book Review: The Outside Sounds and Substitutions of Modern Saxophonists for Jazz Guitar by Kevin Miller
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