Chromatic passing notes and chromatic enclosures has been a part of jazz vocabulary since Bebop. For many people Chromatic passing notes are a big part of the sound of a jazz solo.
In this video I am going to show you how it isn’t that difficult to combine arppegios with a chromatic enclosure and make some great sounding lines. I have 5 examples each with a different type of chromatic enclosure in the line.
The Chromatic enclosures
All the examples are in the key of C major, and using a II V I in Cmajor. The first thing I want to go over is the different enclosures.
In example 1 they are written out all targeting the note G.
The 1st enclosure is a personal favourite that I use quite often. You will also find it in Pat Martino and Charlie Parker lines quite regularly. The construction is to start a half step below and then via a whole step above encircling the target note.
In the 2nd enclosure the melody is simply approaching from a whole step below and the a whole step above.
The 3rd example is skipping from A to F and then chromatically moving aroung the G from F# to Ab.
The 4th example is the same as example 3, but the direction is turned around so from F to A and then Ab to F# before it resolves to G.
In the 5th enclosure the melody is first descending towards G from A to Ab and then approaching from below F to F#.
Using Enclosures in a solo
The way you use this in a line is that you take a chord tone and decide that you want to target this note with the enclosure. Then you can insert the enclosure before that note. This means that you have either a way of suspending the sound of the chord or a way to target a note in the next chord. Since you are using the chromatic enclosure the melody you play to lead towards that note will have a lot of direction.
Example of a line with chromatic enclosure no 1
In the example below I am using the first enclosure from example 1. In this example I am using it to delay the F on the Dm7, so the F is the target note and does not appear before beat 3. On the G7 I am using another 3 note enclosure to target the 3rd(B) of G7. From the B the rest of the G7 line is a dim arpeggio. When the line resolves to C it continues with a small fragment of the Em pentatonic scale.
Example of a line with chromatic enclosure no 2
The line on the Dm7 starts with a 1 2 3 5 melody on the Dm before it goes into the enclosure. In this case the enclosure is targeting the 5th(D) of G which it resolves to on the first beat of bar 1. The rest of the line is simply using the G7 and the B dim arpeggios before it resolves to the 3rd(E) of CMaj7. On the Cmaj7 it is tagged with a small chromatic run from the 9th to the maj7.
Example of a line with chromatic enclosure no 3
Targeting the 3rd of a chord is always a strong choice. The 3rd example is doing this. The melody hits the targeted note F on beat 3 of the first bar. From there it descends down the scale to the 2nd bar. In the 2nd bar the first 2 beats are encircling the 5th of G7. From the 5th it descends the B dim arpeggio before it resolves to the thf of Cmaj7. The line on the Cmaj7 is a Em7 shell voicing as arpeggio.
Example of a line with chromatic enclosure no 4
Arpeggios with chromatic leading notes are an essential thing to have in your bebop vocabulary. In the 4th example I start with a Dm7 arpeggio with a C# leading into the Dm7 arpeggio. The arpeggio is then played as an 8th note triplet targeting the 7th(C) on beat three. From here it continues with the enclosure targeting the 5th(D) of G7. On the G7 the line makes a small scale run. From there it uses another enclosure to resolve to the 5th(G) of Cmaj7.
Example of a line with chromatic enclosure no 5
The enclosure in line no 5 is immediately used to delay (and target) the 3rd of Dm7. From there it continues with a Dm triad melody. On the G7 the melody is constructed from the B dim arpeggio and then via an enclosure to resolve to the 3rd(E) of Cmaj7.
Get started with the chromatic sound
Using the examples above you can start working on using the chromatic enclosures to enrich the sound of your lines. These enclosures go a bit further in sounding almost outside, but since you target chord tones you always find your way back home.
If you want to hear these in action the Pat Metheny on Question and answer is a good place to check: https://open.spotify.com/album/1kM7n3aiIKwS4FZqWLLdLv
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