Jazz Guitar Music For Real Men Part 2: Bebop Techniques For Beginners

The second in a series of Bebop for Beginners, this lesson I tackle the use of enclosures and how they can impact your Bebop styling.

Ultimate Guitar
In the first lesson I outlined the basic structure of the bebop scale, in this lesson we'll be looking at a couple of Bebop techniques (predominately used by Horn players) that can be translated to guitar.

1. Enclosures

In the broadest context, an enclosure is essentially playing 'around' the note you intend to land on/target, as can be seen in this example:
The example isn't designed to sound musical, but, it is worth playing just to get the general idea of what an enclosure is all about. It can be especially interesting if you are a rock/metal player by trade, as it can feel strange and a bit jarring on the fingers initially as it demands a different approach as opposed to playing pentatonic, or natural minor scales. The key word to remember here is 'target', as that is the key to all of these techniques, creating a musical 'sense' of creating a journey from A to B, even if it is in the context of a bar, or over an entire piece, it will give a rounded feel to your playing and will show a strong command of the style. Looking at targeting notes, we can look first at horn players in the Bebop era and their use of enclosures. A classic Horn player technique would be to enclose the root, 3rd and 5th of the underlying chord, as can be seen in this example, set over an A7 chord; A7
As you can see, the 9th fret (E) on the G string and the 11th fret on the D string (C Sharp) are my intended target notes, with the targeted E note being the 5th of the root A7 chord, and the C sharp being the major 3rd of the A7. If you can record and loop an A7 chord, play the line with a swung feel, and see how the enclosed notes create a 'natural' resolution. Now we'll look at more modern approach, seen in a lot of Fusion playing, that of enclosing other chord tones, i.e. the sharp 7th, and flat 5th of the underlying chord, as seen in this example based on a Cm chord: Cm
In creating this example I used a quick slide from the 9th to the 10th fret on the G string (E to F) to the 8th fret (D Sharp) to essentially 'setup' the preceding enclosed phrases, much like a question and answer response style (an important element to include in all of your improvisational lines, no matter what genre), to then enclose the 9th fret on both the D and A strings, the sharp 7th and flattened fifth of the root chord, following this I added the minor 3rd to root notes to resolve the line. An important element to remember when looking to play enclosed lines (or in fact any type of chromatic based style) is to use a fairly healthy amount of repetition. The human mind works in a way that the more we say or do something, the more that becomes ingrained in our minds and becomes more natural to us. With the importance of the delta blues in western music, that magical sharp 4th/diminished note in the blues scale, which to most guitarists is their first exposure to chromatic playing (myself included) has become a staple of modern music, be it blues, metal or pop, it is ingrained in our minds through repetition, whereas 200 years ago it was seen as the 'devils' note in relation to the root chord (could be, Robert Johnson never really told us if it was...), but that is another story. In the next lesson I'll be looking at targeting notes over a number of bars, and using chromatics (or chromaticism) in your playing as passing tones and using arpeggios to imply chord tones. Until then, have a go at creating a loop of both a Cm and A7 chord and begin to target notes, look at the intention of your lines and how they impact on the musicality of the phrase, the more that you can understand the implications of the notes that you play will become important later when we look at targeting notes over chord sequences. Thanks for reading UG fans, Jake Jeremy P.S. I will also be writing a column on funk rhythmic styles so keep an eye out for that. Jake is a professional session player with a 1st class honours degree in Commercial Music, for any playing tips or other enquiries please leave a comment or message his UG profile page.

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Jake Jeremy
    Thanks for your question, in relation to the b5, the comping instrument in jazz on most occasions is playing a chord that consists of root, 3rd and 7fh, predominately to avoid the clash you mentioned, also, it's important to remember that these lines are played pretty quickly so the tension and release is on short bursts to embellish the improvisation. Thanks, Jake Jeremy
    Question. Why are you targeting the b5 on the C-? Wouldn't targeting it impose a diminished tonality that would clash with the natural 5th of the minor triad? Same sort of question with the #7. Do you normally not want to target chord tones as to create tensions over the chord? Just doesn't seem very intuitive to me as I'd think that would cause a lead line to sound out of place.
    Why do you keep referring to a sharp 7th? I've never heard anyone use that term before, and doesn't it just mean the root?
    Contextually cause it's a minor / dominant chord he's raising (sharpening) it to become a natural 7th.