Tag Archives: chromaticism

Chromatic passing notes – Instant Bebop guitar lesson!

In this guitar lesson I am going to demonstrate and explain three ways you can use to add chromatic passing notes in your guitar solos.

Using chromaticism in this way is a great way to add some bebop or jazz flavour to your solos even if you don’t really play that style of guitar.

Setting up a backdrop for the lines

In this lesson I am going to concentrate on making lines over a C7 chord. All the examples are based around the C7 arpeggio found in the 8th fret, as shown in example 2:

The scale that is attached to this chord or arpeggio in this guitar lesson is the F major or C7 scale. This is shown in example 3:

The passing notes between scales

In the first line I am adding chromatic passing notes between two scale notes. This happens in bar 1 between the D and C and in bar 2 between the A and the G. You should notice that the line is still heavily based on the arpeggio. This is because besides from the passing notes it is very important to play form the chords when playing bebop and jazz styles.

In the line I am only using passing notes between adjacent scale notes in a descending melody, but the same is of course possible when ascending.

If we take the concept and turn it into an exercise you could end up with this exercise. The core of the exercise is a C major triad in the 8th position. There is ascending and descending chromatic approach to each note.

When you want to add a passing note between two scale notes a half step apart it gets tricky. This happens when moving from F to E (bar 3) above. My fix for this is an idea I have from Barry Harris: When there is no chromatic note possible we borrow the diatonic note above. In this case that’s a G. This pretty much always works.

Chromatic Enclosures

A very common way to use chromatic notes is to encircle a chord tone with a mix of a diatonic and chromatic passing notes. In the line below I do this in the first bar. First the G that is suspended by an A and an F#, and then the Bb which is encircled  by the A and the C. Of course A is doubling as a chromatic and diatonic passing note.

Turning this idea into an exercise is fairly easy. In example 6 I use this diatonic above chromatic below through a C7 arpeggio. For demonstration purposes I kept it short by starting on the 5th.

Getting the chromatic notes in your solos

To get these ideas into your own solo lines you need to first mess around with the exercises and get them into your ears and fingers. Once you can play them without too much trouble you can start working on composing simple lines mixing up arpeggios and chromatic ideas. To get you started I made two such simple line in example 7.

The first line is a C7 apeggio preceded by an enclosure of the C and ending with a descending chromatic passage down to the root. The second example starts off with two enclosures of the 5th and 3rd before it moves from the root to the b7 via an chromatic passing note.

Longer chromatic enclosures

Now that we have two basic ways of inserting chromatic notes we can start combining these to make a long chromatic suspension of a chord tone. In the line in example 8 I am using an idea like this by combining the two previous ideas. The target note it s the Bb on beat three and it is preceded by an encircling and a descending chromatic leading note.

This ideas is actually something I picked up from a Pat Martino solo that I learned a long time ago. Taking this concept through the arpeggio is also fairly simple as shown in example 9:

The way I play this is based more on keeping the whole phrase on one string that trying to stay in position. This works better for me most of the time, but is of course not the only way to do it, so you might want to experiment a bit.

I hope you can use these ideas to get started improvising with chromatic passing notes in your lines and find some new melodies that fits your taste and playing.

How I use chromatic passing notes and enclosures

If you want to check out how I use chromatic passing notes in a solo then you could check out this webstore lesson that is a transcription and an lesson analyzing how the lines are constructed:

Bb Jazz Blues Lesson 1


If you want to study the examples I went over in the lesson you can of course also download them as a pdf here:

Chromaticism – Instant Bebop

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

If you want to check out some more examples then you can download this PDF:

Chromaticism – Instant Bebop extras

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Chromatic Chords – part 1

Chromaticism has been an important part of the jazz language since the 40’s.  In this lesson I want to show how you can add chromatic chords to you comping or chords solos, so that you also have that aspect of the style in you vocabulary.

I already have made 3 lessons on adding chromatic notes to improvisations. These lessons are on my YouTube channel, and the article that accompanies them are published on the fundamental-changes.com website. Since a lot of jazz melodies have chromatic passing notes we need to have a way to deal with them when we are playing that kind of melodies in chord solos or while comping. On guitar this is surprisingly easy (for once..)

I have chosen to work only on dominant chords for this 1st lesson on chromatic chords. Mainly because it is an easy place to start and it is also a little easier to hear in the beginning. I also won’t go too much into the theory of what the chromatic chords are since it is not that important, and easy to use without knowing that.


I don’t have an actual system for this approach, and have chosen to make an exercise based on two main positions on the neck. The principle is easy to grasp and will work on any sort of voicing even if we are looking at it in a guitaristic way.

The first example is a few examples of melodies that you can use with voicings based around a standard G7(13) voicing in the 3rd position.

Chromatic Chords - Part 1 - ex 1

As you can see I have chosen to harmonize the chromatic note with a chord voicing that is the same as the one it resolves to, so when the melody resolves down it is an Ab7 chord, and if it is aascending it is a F# voicing. Fairly simple and very easy to execute on guitar without having to think too much about it.

The second example is doing the same but around a G7(9) voicing at the 10th fret.

Chromatic Chords - Part 1 - ex 2

Since the chromatic passing notes are harmonized in a way where we have one chord that just shifts up or down a fret this concept is very nice to use for chord soloing.


So just to illustrate how this might work in a context I’ve made a few II V I lines. Another good place to practice with these chord runs would be a blues since it has a lot of dom7th chords.

Chromatic Chords - Part 1 - ex 3

Example 1 is first using a drop2 voicing for a Dm7(9), followed by a melody harmoniced with an F amjor triad (or you could view it as the top part of a Dm7 drop2 voicing. On the G7  I first use a chromatic run resolving the 13th(E) to the 5th(D) via the Eb. On the four I use a G7 altered drop2 voicning that then resolves to Cmaj7 that I play with a drop2 Eminor voicing.

The second line is using the higher position of the G7. On the Dm7 I made a short melody using basically the same chord voicing but then with different top notes. Another good way to get some practical and playable melodies for chord soloing. The chord I am using could be seen as the top part of a Drop3, an F major triad or a Drop2 Dm7 voicing. The rhythmical language of chord solos always reminded me of bigband lines, so if you want to work on chord solos and have some good ideas for rhythms to use then big band (Count Basie era) is a great place to listen for some. On the G7 I am infact using a part of the 2nd exercise, the only difference is that I have changed the rhythm a bit. The line then resolves to a Cmaj7 which is played with an Em triad.

Chromatic Chords - Part 1 - ex 4

As you can see it is important to start to see how all the voicings end up overlapping when you use them in lines and comping, even to the point where it can be hard to say what a certain voicng type is in the context.

The last example is again using a bigband like rhythms, especially because of the quarter note phrasing. The Dm7 voicings are first using the F major triad as in Line no 1 and then the one used in line no 2. In this example I chose to use a G7 altered chord instead, just to demonstrate that the same principle works just as well for altered dominants.  The melody is a chromatic movement from the #9 to the b9 and then back before it resolves to the same Cmaj7 voicing as in the previous example.

Chromatic Chords - Part 1 - ex 5

I hope you can use the exercises and the examples I gave here to make some harmonized lines with chromatic passing notes for yourself.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here:

Chromatic Chords – Part 1

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.