Etude 48-Pentatonic Study Over the Chord Changes to “Just Friends”

In a sense, this etude is an elaboration of Etude 25 (Three Pentatonic Scale Colors Over ii-V7-I). Here I’ve chosen the well-known standard song, Just Friends,  as a vehicle to explore how pentatonic colors can be used over an entire song form. This etude is composed exclusively of transposed versions of the following three pentatonic scale colors:

Using “C” as the root, the scale in the first measure is a C major pentatonic (1, 2, 3, 5, 6) ; the scale in the second measure is a C harmonic major pentatonic (1, 2 3, 5, b6); and the scale in the third measure is a C harmonic minor pentatonic (1, 2, b3, 5, b6, also known as the “Japanese pentatonic”).

These pentatonic scales can also be looked at as “pentatonic modes” extracted from other scales. For example, the C pentatonic in the first measure can be extracted from F or G major (formed from the 5th or 4th degree of these scales, respectively); the harmonic major pentatonic can be extracted from the F melodic minor scale (formed from the 5th degree of the scale), and the “Japanese pentatonic” is also a pentatonic mode of the Eb major scale (formed from the 6th degree of the scale), which has a Lydian tonal quality.

I use no chromatic passing tones, nor any other tones outside of whichever pentatonic scale is being used. I do “go over the bar” quite a bit, so the demarcation of each pentatonic scale is not always clear based exclusively on the bar lines. And sometimes I use portions of two different scales back to back over the same chord. Your challenge might be to play through this etude, get it into your ear, then analyze and identify which scale is being used where. If you’d like to explore more deeply how pentatonic modes can be extracted and used over chord changes, please consider my e-book Melodic Minor Scale Jazz Studies: Tonal Organizations and Applications Over Dominant Chords. Click the link below to get a free pdf copy of this etude:

Pentatonic Study Over the Chords to “Just Friends”-pdf