Note:This thesis is part of a research project submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts in the School of Music. The project also involved the preparation and performance of a recital of music related to the thesis topic.

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Title:Harmonically speaking: George Van Eps and the great American songbook
Author(s):Swanson, Erik
Advisor(s):McNeil, Charles
Contributor(s):Gray, Lawrence; Silvers, Michael; Tipei, Sever
Department / Program:School of Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:A.Mus.D. (doctoral)
Subject(s):George Van Eps
jazz guitar
7-string guitar
Solo jazz guitar
Great American songbook
Abstract:George Van Eps (1913-1998) is a legendary figure among jazz guitarists, not only for his innovation in developing and performing on a 7-string instrument and the ability to perform unaccompanied, but also for his unprecedented harmonic knowledge that led him to develop his own unique style of playing he called the “Lap piano.” In spite of publishing four large instructional books about harmony on the guitar, little has been written about how he approached his own music when playing the many standards of the Great American Songbook, which is the backbone of his repertoire. For this project, eight of his finest and most complex unaccompanied recordings, arranged from the Great American Songbook, have been transcribed, spanning a period from 1955–1994. My objective is to understand how Van Eps approached arranging for the solo guitar in terms of his varied rhythmic styles, his treatment of melody, the vertical chord structures that he used (as well as how he approached moving harmony), and his approach to reharmonization.
Issue Date:2017
Publisher:School of Music, College of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Genre:Dissertation / Thesis
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-12-07

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