Tag Archives: chromatic enclosures

5 Chromatic Licks – This Is The Way You Use Them In Your Playing

In Jazz Guitar, Chromatic Licks are really a huge part of what we consider the jazz sound. But you can use chromatic passing notes and enclosures as devices to create different kinds of surprises in your solos. This Guitar Lesson is going over 5 different examples of how you can use chromaticism and chromatic approach in your playing. The examples are both in a Modal setting and on a II V I.

The lesson covers

  • Adding color with chromatic passing notes
  • Suspending chord tones with chromatic enclosures
  • Creating forward motion towards the next chord
  • Outside sequences and parallel movement.

#1 Chromatic Passing Notes for Color

In this modal example I am using a passing notes and chromatic enclosures as a way to add some color to the line. They are there as ways of adding a few colorful or surprising notes in the line.

Whenever you are playing over a chord then the ear exoects to hear the notes of the chord and the surrounding scale notes. It does however also hear the remaining notes as tensions that need to resolve.

You can add this to a line to give it some colors and some movement. In this modal A dorian minor example I am first adding a passing note between the 9th and the root from beat 3 to 4 of the first bar.

The passing note is placed on the off beat which makes it a bit more smooth.

The Chromatic enclosure is a 4 notes melody in the beginning of the 2nd bar that creates some movement towards the C on beat 3 of the bar.

The final part of the lick is a Cmaj7(b5) arpeggio which is a great way to really get the Dorian Am13 color out on the chord.

#2 Chromatic Lick = Forward Motion

In this example I am using the chromatic enclosure to create some forward motion and move the chords along.

The Progression is a II V I in G major. The chromaticism used is first a passing note between the 3rd and the 2nd on D7 (in bar2)

From here I continue with a very common way to target the 3rd(B) of Gmaj7 that really drives the lick forward and pushes towards the resolution on the and of 4.

#3 Suspending a Resolution

Instead of using the chromatic phrase to drive the changes you can also use it as a way of delaying a chord. In this example, a II V I in G major again, I am using two chomatic ideas to delay the resolution to the Gmaj7.

The Am7 line is constructed of a spread triad 1st inversion C major triad. This is followed by an Am pentatonic phrase.

In this example the dominant, D7, is an altered dominant. The phrase is a pretty basic altered phrase using an Ab triad and a stock Ebm line.

The D7alt line should resolve to the D on beat 1 of the Gmaj7 but instead

These types of ideas are very common in Pat Metheny’s playing around the Question And Answer era. You will find him making harmonic movement quite unclear by adding long chromatic phrases instead of a clear resolution.

#4 Modal Shifting Example

Another great way to introduce chromatic passages is to shift an interval and in that way move out of the tonality for a bit.

This A Dorian modal example demonstrates this. The first bar starts with an enclosure targeting the A on beat 3.  From there it is a descending 1st inversion Am7 arpeggio.

In bar two the first two notes are a chromtatic enclosure of an E. The E and the C then becomes an interval that shifts down in half steps twice. The line ends with a chromatic passing note added between D and C. 

#5 Chromatic Licks as Outside ideas

Chromaticism can also be used as a way to create some outside material in a solo. This modal example is demonstrating some side slipping which is shifting an arpeggio in half steps to add some outside melodies to the phrase.

The beginning of the phrase is a fairly straight forward 4-note enclosure targeting the root of Am7. This is followed by an Am7 arpeggio. 

In bar 2 the Am7 arpeggio ends on the 9th and this is then the first note in a descending Em triad. This triad is shifted down to Ebm and Dm. From the Dm the line ends on the 13(F#) of Am via a chromatic enclosure.

5 Chromatic licks – Chromatic Enclosures

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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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

5 chromatic enclosures

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