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Home LJS Podcast Play better jazz solos LJS 158: Using Chromaticism to Develop Your Jazz Lines

LJS 158: Using Chromaticism to Develop Your Jazz Lines

Welcome to episode 158 of the LJS Podcast where today we are talking about how to add chromaticism into your jazz lines. Chromaticism is one of the characteristics of a classic “jazz sound” and so we take a close look at how to implement it. We go over 5 different licks and gradually introduce chromaticism into them.

Listen to episode 158

Chromaticism is what I consider a prominent characteristic of the classic “jazz sound.” Classic, meaning, some of the more traditional languages of jazz like bebop.

Anyone can add chromatic notes into their jazz lines, but doing it in a way that is tasteful and makes musical sense takes some study and understanding.

Beboppers like Charlie Parker were experts at utilizing chromaticism in a tasteful way. That’s where this concept of “there are no wrong notes” comes from.

The idea being, as long as you resolve a chromatic note to a diatonic note properly, it’s going to sound good. This is the concept of tension and resolution.

In this episode, I go over 5 licks that I composed that slowly introduce chromaticism. Let’s dig in!

In this episode:

1. Definition of chromaticism.

2. Example of a diatonic line with no chromaticism.

3. 4 licks that introduce chromaticism into the diatonic line.

Lick With No Chromaticism

Lick Adding Chromaticism

Lick Adding More Chromaticism

Lick Exaggerating Chromaticism

Short ii-V-I Using Enclosure

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Learn Jazz Standards Podcast. If you aren’t already, make sure you are subscribed on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

I look forward to having you join me in the next episode!

Important Links

The Jazz Standards Playbook

LJS 150: Using Enclosure to Create Bebop Lines Over a Jazz Blues

Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."


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