A concept I got from my jazz studies I use a lot are called enclosures. Enclosures are & were used by jazz artists such as Clifford Brown, Pat Metheny, and Dizzy Gillespie. They were particularly popular in the late bebop period. A huge part of Clifford Brown’s style is based off of enclosures.

What are enclosures?

First, you have to know what the CHORD TONES of each CHORD are. This is because these are the notes you will be targeting with the ENCLOSURES.

How to do an enclosure

Let’s begin with a G MAJOR CHORD half-step enclosure:

To enclosure the G note of the chord, you can pick a note a 1/2 step below (F#) and a note a 1/2 step above (G#).

F# G#

Now, you can play those in two different orders. Starting on the F# or by starting on the G#, as long as the G is the last note. You can name this a 1/2 step enclosure

F# G# G

G# F# G

So you are basically circling the G note from the outside-in.

Whole-step Enclosure

Next, pick notes a WHOLE STEP from G, so, F and A. Once again, you can start a whole step below (F), then move to (A), and then finally play the G. You could also start on the A note. So our Whole-step enclosure is as follows:



So you have both 1/2 step and whole step enclosures. Sometimes people will combine the two. For instance, playing a 1/2 step below and then a whole step above or vice versa. There are many combinations available. Here is one combining both.

F A F# G# G

Diatonic Enclosure

Lastly, one of the most common enclosures is a DIATONIC ENCLOSURE. With a diatonic enclosure you must consider what notes are in the key or root scale. So if you are thinking off of a G major chord, the diatonic enclosure is derived as follows:

Given a G MAJOR SCALE = G A B C D E F#

  1. A step down from G via the G MAJOR SCALE is F#
  2. A step up from G via the scale is a A

F# A G

So, you see in this case you have a combination. This is more difficult in some ways to do on the fly, as you have to know the notes in your scales really well.

Here is the video I did on the topic for further details and demonstration

Jody Written by:

Professional Musician of 27 years. I've performed on the stages of Carnegie Hall, The Grand Ole Opry, and The Ryman Auditorium. I've also played in 6 different countries. All things Banjo and Acoustic Guitar.