What are Chromatic Enclosures?

I’ve been practicing arpeggios and I keep running by the term “Chromatic Enclosures”. Can anyone explain to me what enclosures are and how they can be applied musically?

Put simply, each “correct” note is enclosed by two neighbouring chromatic notes which are all available for use in your playing. I’ve attached graphics to demonstrate.

In the first graphic, in bar 1 you’ll notice that the major 3rd is preceded by two notes; one above, and one below. Regardless of which notes are in-key, they both chromatically enclose the destination note (maj3), before the lick ends/resolves to the root note.

On bar 2 you’ll be able to decode a C major triad, but some of the notes have been preceded by a neighbouring note. This demonstrates chromatic approaching notes, not chromatic enclosures.

In the second graphic you’ll see a C7 arpeggio in bar 1, and then the same arpeggio but with two notes before each target note. These two notes are the neighbouring chromatic notes, and together form the chromatic enclosure.

This technique is great fun and works really well in Blues & Jazz. You’ll hear players often use a swing-feel alongside this technique.


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