12-Tone Closed Grips

Here's a practical idea I've been experimenting with lately for chromatic improvisation. The idea is to dispense with theory and let visual patterns lead instead.

We learn chords in "closed" and "open" or "spread" voicings, so maybe we can learn 12-tone patterns that way too. The idea of these is to break the 12 notes into three tetrachords, each of which can be played as an actual chord in a very natural way on the top four strings of the guitar. These three tetrachords "lock together" to cover the chromatic in a small span (mostly within an octave and a half).

These have much less individual character that a full tone-row because they're much less prescriptive. You can play the notes in any order and combine them into the chords the colour codes suggest or not as your ears dictate. This makes them much more practical for improvisation, at least in my experience. Nevertheless, each still has its own sound.

They can be applied in a tonal context as well as an atonal one -- for instance, one of the grips making up the pattern might be the target chord, with the other two acting as a "walkup" or "walkdown" to it.

Obviously there are a lot more possibilities -- these are just a taste, and obviously I have in mind the idea of exploring "spread" grips as well as closed ones in the future: