The Diatonic Enclosure – Application and Practice Guide

The Jazz Guitar Practice Guide

 

While there are many jazz soloing techniques that use chromatic notes and other outside sounds, not every important concept steps outside the key center. The most popular example of this is the diatonic enclosure, which is built by playing two diatonic notes surrounding a diatonic target note in your lines.

Used by just about every important jazz guitarist, diatonic enclosures are an effective way to increase your jazz vocabulary without having to build any tension in your lines in the process.

Though tension and release are an important part of jazz soloing, they are not always desirable.

Understanding diatonic enclosures will allow you to build a sense of jazz vocabulary into your lines in those moments where you want to stay within the underlying key center.

 

What is a Diatonic Enclosure?

To begin your study of this important jazz soloing concept, you’ll learn what a diatonic enclosure is and how to apply it to your improvisations.

 

A diatonic enclosure is when you play one note above, then one note below, and finally your target note when soloing.

 

You can also play a note below, then above, then your target note, but you’ll focus on the other variation in this lesson as it’s more commonly used in jazz guitar.

When applying diatonic enclosures to any note in an arpeggio, or scale if you choose to go that route, there are three variations that you produce.

The first variation is a tone above and semi-tone below, as you can see and hear in this example.

Listen & Play Along


diatonic enclosure 1

 

The second variation is semi-tone above and tone below, which you can see in this example.

Listen & Play Along


diatonic enclosure 2

 

The final variation is tone above and tone below, as you can see in this example.

Listen & Play Along


diatonic enclosure 3.3

 

To summarize this section, the first step is to pick a target note in your line.

From there, you play a diatonic note above then a diatonic note below, before landing on your target note at the end of the enclosure.

 

Diatonic Enclosures – Arpeggios

Now that you know what diatonic enclosures are, it’s time to add them to your jazz guitar practice routine.

In the following examples, you’ll apply diatonic enclosures to various arpeggios, building up to using these arpeggios in your ii V I soloing lines.

Start by learning each example in the given key, before transposing them to other keys around the fretboard.

As well, there’s one fingering for each arpeggio in the given examples, so feel free to expand on these ideas by applying diatonic enclosures to any arpeggio fingering in your studies.

Lastly, you can put on a one-chord backing track and practice soloing over that chord using the underlying arpeggio and diatonic enclosures that apply to that shape.

An example of this would be to solo over a Dm7 vamp while using the Dm7 arpeggio and diatonic enclosures to build your lines over that chord.

Here’s an example of how to apply diatonic enclosures to a Dm7 arpeggio shape, the chord tones are highlighted in red.

 

Listen & Play Along


diatonic enclosure 4

 

Moving on, you’ll now apply diatonic enclosures to a G7 arpeggio.

Listen & Play Along


diatonic enclosure 5

 

With this next example, diatonic enclosures over a Cmaj7 arpeggio, you can now outline all three chords in a major ii V I progression.

Listen & Play Along


diatonic enclosure 6

 

Next, you’ll apply diatonic enclosures to a Bm7b5 arpeggio, which is normally used to outline the iim7b5 chord in a minor key ii V I progression.

Listen & Play Along


diatonic enclosure 7

 

The final example features diatonic enclosures over an E7b9 arpeggio, the V7alt in a ii V I minor chord progression.

In this version, because you’re using a mode of harmonic minor, you’ll have one enclosure where you play a semi-tone above and a m3rd interval below.

With this arpeggio under your fingers, you can now outline all the chords in a minor key iim7b5 V7alt Im7 progression in your solos.

Listen & Play Along


diatonic enclosure 8

 

Diatonic Enclosures – ii V I Licks

After you’ve worked on applying diatonic enclosures to various arpeggios, you can apply this concept to chord progressions, such as the ii V I.

In the following examples, you’ll learn four ii V I licks that use diatonic enclosures to target various chord tones throughout the progression.

Start by learning each lick in the given key at various tempos.

From there, you can practice transposing each lick to other keys around the fretboard.

When you feel ready, put on a backing track and apply these licks to your solos in order to hear them in a musical context.

If you’re looking for a good tune to begin with, use the “Solar” backing track in the next section of the tune.

The first lick is a ii V I in C major.

 

Listen & Play Along


diatonic enclosure 9

 

The second sample line is also a ii V I phrase in the key of C major.

Listen & Play Along


diatonic enclosure 10

 

Moving on, you’ll now apply diatonic enclosures to a lick in the key of A minor.

Listen & Play Along


diatonic enclosure 11

 

To finish, here’s another ii V I lick in the key of A minor that uses diatonic enclosures.

Listen & Play Along


diatonic enclosure 12

 

Diatonic Enclosures – Solar Study

To finish your introduction to diatonic enclosures, here’s a solo study over the chord progression to the Miles Davis tune “Solar.”

In this study you’ll find enclosures applied to various diatonic notes in the progression.

As you work through the study, start by learning each four-bar phrase one at a time, then piece the three phrases together in your practicing as you work on playing the study as a whole.

There’s also a backing track included so that you can practice soloing over “Solar” and build your own lines that outline the changes with diatonic enclosures.

Backing Track


Listen & Play Along

 

diatonic enclosure 13.1

 

The Jazz Guitar Practice Guide

 

  • Mike Crutcher says:

    Matt,

    Do you have any exercises for getting enclosures into your playing using a blues? I’m thinking diatonic and chromatic enclosures.

    • Matthew Warnock says:

      Hey, yes you can just take any of the enclosures in this lesson and apply them to any chord in a blues. The process is the same, just change the chords.

  • Henning Kock says:

    Again an excellent lesson from you.
    I used to start my solos with one and the same diatonic enclosure.
    Now I have more to choose from.
    It is always interesting to see how other guitarists does it.
    Thank you.

  • Vinnie says:

    Thank You !
    Your lessons are always saved and cherished ! Are there any of your tunes on You Tube ?
    Would really like to listen to them

  • bukerall says:

    Thank

  • Kev says:

    Another excellent lesson…and a very effective technique.
    Thank you

  • Fred says:

    Hi,
    While practicing enclosure on arpeggios, how do I know which enclosure variation I should chose for each target note ? Should I refer to a particuler diatonic scale ?
    Thanks for your answer.

    • Matt Warnock says:

      Hey, yes you refer to the underlying scale for that chord.

  • Thierry says:

    Super leçon, une des techniques importantes pour sonner “Jazz”, merci.

  • Mozart says:

    Brilliant lesson, thanks for sharing this insight…

  • Silverfoxx says:

    A very useful set of diatonic enclosure examples in these studies
    Thank you again Matt & Dirk for your lessons and encouragement.

  • Andy says:

    Great lesson. Thanks

  • Haywhyfret3 says:

    I so much cherish this lesson diatonic enclosure and I’ll make sure I start using it hence forth. Please what guitar type can I purchase as a beginner jazz player?

    • Henning Kock says:

      Hello HW,

      I have owned 3 different Gibson 175D (1958, 1979 and now 2011)
      and would recommend you to find a used one of this model.
      It is all-round. Sound good in an amp and
      keep its value.

    • Steve G says:

      Depends on your budget + personal preference. If you post some info on what you like/want,
      folks can give you better advice. Here is my general recommendation:

      On the low end, an used Ibanez AF series archtop (used) Maybe an AF75. Great playing and sounding guitars. $500 (US). Similar price range with a bit more personality are the Hagstrom archtops or a Hagstrom Viking.
      A step up is the Eastman 371 (a very nice Gibson Es 175 inspired guitar, all laminate)
      Another step up is the Eastman 403 series. (Rosewood fingerboard, all laminate)
      Another step up : the Eastman 503 series (Ebony fingerboard, laminate body but carved spruce top)
      @A bit over $1000.

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