‘Vertical Exercises‘ for guitar by Evangelos Boudounis.
Published by PANAS MUSIC Papagrigoriou-Nakas EPN-31
Evangelos Boudounis is an unfamiliar name to me. However, his list of achievements as a guitar player of significance is long. His teachers included Alexandre Lagoya, Alirio Diaz and Andreas Segovia; he has won numerous competitions and has been a professor at the Conservatoire in Athens and the Patras Conservatoire. He has written in excess of 45 books of repertoire and teaching material and some editions apparently have sales figures of over 50,000.
This is clearly a guitarist to be taken very seriously and it is surprising that his works are not better known in the UK and Western Europe.
Evangelos says that these exercises are designed to “train the fingers in a movement vertical to the strings and fingerboard.” In 46 pages, he leaves no stone unturned in his desire to challenge the guitarist’s left-hand and I have never before seen such a systematic work-out.
One of his principles is to ‘root’ a finger to the fingerboard (it being frequently referenced by re-playing) whilst sending other digits up or down in small chromatic movements. There’s free use of both sides of the enharmonic lexicon and precise fingering throughout, so that any doubt of intent is removed.
These are not beginner exercises; no guitar player lower than grade 5 or 6 should approach the book and it could carry a health-warning because the stretching involved is always challenging and, at times, extreme. It may be an age-related observation (I’m sure my fingers used to be able to do this stuff) but some of the exercises, with the best and most patient will in the world, eluded me.
An early example: keep G on string 6 planted and send fingers 1 and 4 off to play first A# and C# on string 5, then D# and F# on string 4, and so on. Further along there is finger swapping where the two halves of the left-hand exchange opposite sides of the fingerboard in quick succession.
One cannot call these exercises musical, because their technical aims transcend the inherent consonance of the guitar, but they do definitely serve a musical purpose. The counterpoint of Bach is not just a cerebral challenge for a guitarist, but often a technical one, since voices have to sustain their linear logic regardless of the difficulty. Had I known of this book’s existence when studying Bach’s Lute Suites, then so much which was challenging might have been less so. As a preliminary study to developing contrapuntal dexterity, this book is an essential addition to our bookshelves. The book is beautiful printed and the fonts are all crystal clear – this is by no means a ‘cheap’ production.
Every teacher of intermediate and advanced students should be aware of this valuable resource and advanced students would be well advised to obtain a copy. Just when we might have thought we had come up with every single stretching challenge for the left-hand, Evangelos seems to find more. We are all probably familiar with Giuliani’s 120 right-hand exercises. if not, here is a useful link:
Evangelos Boudounis has done the same for the guitar player’s left-hand. We may not enjoy the stretching (and perhaps discomfort) his exercises present to us as players and teachers, but their technical worth is unquestionable.
I strongly recommend this book to those working with advanced players. It can be obtained from his own website at: