How to Use Jazz Guitar Enclosures
One of the most common techniques used by many jazz musicians and especially bop players and guitarists is the use of enclosures. Jazz guitar enclosures are found in a ton of great jazz solos, and work in a similar way to chromatic approach notes.
An enclosure is a group of 3 notes that enclosures a target note within an arpeggio or scale by using chromatics, scale steps, and a combination of both. Each of these will be fully explored in this section and demonstrated using lines over a practical chord progression so that you can apply them to your solos and better your bop chops.
Some of these enclosures might sound strange at first, especially to those who aren’t used much chromatics in your playing before, so don’t worry about playing these in time at first. Try playing them up and down in a free time to get used to the sounds first so you can hear how the approaches are working.
Jazz Guitar Enclosures: Chromatic Above and Below
This first enclosure uses the chromatic approach tone technique explored in an earlier lesson, but rather than using each note individually, each note is played together targeting guide tone notes. The notated example shows how you can approach each note within a C7 arpeggio by using a chromatic note above then below.
This technique can also be reversed meaning that start with a chromatic note below, then use another one above before hitting the target note.
Scale Step Enclosure: Above and Below
Another enclosure that jazz musicians use to target notes is scale steps. Scale steps are just notes from the parent scale of the chord you are targeting. For example if you wanted to enclosure the 3rd (E) within a C7 arpeggio you would use D and F because both of these notes come from the C Mixolydian scale.
Although the example here uses scale steps above then below, like with the first example, these enclosures can be reversed so you could use them below then above.
Mixed Enclosure: Chromatic Above, Scale Step Below
Jazz musicians often use a mix of both of enclosure techniques, and the next example shows how this can be done by using a chromatic above and a scale step below.
Mixed Enclosure: Scale Step Above, Chromatic Below
The last enclosure technique is a reverse of the previous technique. This time the enclosure starts with a scale step above, then goes a chromatic below the note in content.
Enclosure Lick 1
This lick first enclosures the 3rd of the C7 chord (E) by using an enclosure. This enclosure can either be seen as a chromatic enclosure or a scale step above, and chromatic below. When enclosures are practiced under our fingers in our ears, the process of using them becomes less thinking “what enclosure should I use” and more about hearing tension and resolution with a line.
Enclosure Lick 2
The next lick is a Joe Pass style enclosure lick applied to a C triad, so you can use it over any type of C major 7th or C dominant 7th chord, but for this example I’ve used it over C7 to keep in theme with the lesson. This lick entire lick is built from using the same enclosure, a scale step above and chromatic below.
To finish off this lesson, let’s take a look at how to apply some of these enclosure techniques over the jazz progression using an etude I have written.
Notice that I have used chromatic enclosures on the dominant 7th chords and the scale step above, chromatic below enclosure on the minor 7th chords. While there is no rules in terms of which enclosures to use over a chord, dominant 7th chords contain the most tension out of any chord and are particularly effective to use with chromatic enclosures.
Jazz Guitar Enclosures Etude
I hope that this breif introduction into enclosures helps bring some classic jazz sounds into your improvisation. What are some of your favorite enclosures to practice? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.