Analysis of the first 9 bars of "Just Friends"
( "A section" lines 1 & 2 plus first bar of Bridge section )

2003©J.Brent

Legend:

VBA1.1     = Vanilla Book, A section, line 1, variation 1

VBA1.2     = Vanilla Book, A section, line 1, variation 2

RBA1       = Real Book, A section, line 1

SevenA1.1  = my analysis, A section, line 1, variation 1

SevenA1.2  = my analysis, A section, line 1, variation 2

 

VBA2.1     = Vanilla Book, A section, line 2, variation 1

VBA2.2     = Vanilla Book, A section, line 2, variation 2

RBA2       = Real Book, A section, line 2

SevenA2.1  = my analysis, A section, line 2, variation 1

SevenA2.2  = my analysis, A section, line 2, variation 2

 

VBBa1      = Vanilla Book, first Bridge section, line 1

RBBa1      = Real Book, first Bridge section, line 1

SevenBa1.1 = my analysis, Bridge section, line 1, variation 1

SevenBa1.2 = my analysis, Bridge section, line 1, variation 2

 

VBBa2      = Vanilla Book, first Bridge section, line 2

RBBa2      = Real Book, first Bridge section, line 2

 

VBBz1      = Vanilla Book, last Bridge section, line 1

RBBz1      = Real Book, last Bridge section, line 1

 

VBBz2      = Vanilla Book, last Bridge section, line 2

RBBz2      = Real Book, last Bridge section, line 2

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

First we'll begin with a comparative analysis of the differences between the two Vanilla Book variations of the "A section" and the Real Book version.

 

Line 1 (the first 4 bars):

VBA1.1 = | Cmaj7 | % | F7  | %  |

VBA1.2 = | Cmaj7 | % | Cm6 | %  |

RBA1 =   | Cmaj7 | % | Cm7 | F7 |

 

For line 1, there is perfect agreement in both VB & RB that the first two bars are a Cmaj7 chord ( IVmaj7 ).

The first VB version has for bars 3 & 4 an F7 chord. The RB substitutes Cm7 for bar 3 and preserves F7 for bar 4. This is a very typical Jazz substitution for a 7th chord that lasts two bars. Other common substitutions for a two-bar F7 chord would be

| Cm7 F7 | Cm7 F7 |

or

| Cm7 F7 | F7 Cm7 |

The theory behind these substitutions in bars 3 & 4 should require no additional explanation.

 

Line 1 can therefore be analyzed either:

| IVmaj7 | % | ivm   | bVII7 |

or

| IVmaj7 | % | bVII7 | bVII7 |

 

One point to be noted is that changing from a Major quality chord to the minor quality chord of the same degree ( in this case: IVmaj  >  ivm ) is quite a common vehicle in Jazz. It often signals the beginning of a circular progression (more on this later).

 

Line 2 (bars 5 thru 8):

VBA2.1 = | Gmaj7 | % | Eb7  | %   |

VBA2.2 = | Gmaj7 | % | Bbm6 | %   |

RBA2   = | Gmaj7 | % | Bbm7 | Eb7 |

 

For line 2, there is perfect agreement in all versions that bars 5 & 6 are a Gmaj7 chord ( Imaj7 ).

 

The first VB version has for bars 7 & 8 an Eb7 chord. The RB substitutes Bbm7 for bar 7 and preserves Eb7 for bar 8. Once again this is a very typical Jazz substitution for a 7th chord that lasts two bars. Other common substitutions for a two-bar Eb7 chord would be:

| Bbm7 Eb7 | Bbm7 Eb7 |

or

| Bbm7 Eb7 | Eb7 Bbm7 |

As above, the theory behind these substitutions in bars 3 & 4 should require no additional explanation.

 

Line 2 can therefore be analyzed either:

| Imaj7 | % | biiim | bVI7 |

or

| Imaj7 | % | bVI7  | bVI7 |

 


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

For the sake of completeness, below are the variations for the first bridge section and the last bridge section:

 

First Bridge Section:

VBBa1 = | Am7 | D7 | G   | %   |

RBBa1 = | Am7 | D7 | Bm7 | Em7 |

 

VBBa2 = | A7  | %  | Am7 | D7  G7  |

RBBa2 = | A7  | %  | Am7 | Dm7 Db7 |

 

 

Last Bridge Section:

VBBz1 = | Am7 | D7 | B7  | Em7 |

RBBz1 = | Am7 | D7 | Bm7 | Em7 |

 

VBBz2 = | A7  | D7     | G   | %        |

RBBz2 = | A7  | Am7 D7 | G6  | (Dm7 G7) |

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A few notes on the Bridge sections:

1. 
RBBa1 = RBBz1 ( | Am7 | D7 | Bm7 | Em7 | )


2.
RBBa1 & RBBz1 are modeled on VBBz1, but RB uses a Bm7 instead of VB's B7. The circular tendency remains the same, but the minor has a smoother effect than the secondary dominant. However, either one would work equally as well in this situation.


3.
RBBa2 is the same as VBBa2 except for the tritone substitution of the dominant chord in the last bar of the line ( substitute Db7 for G7 ), and the use of a Dm7 (RB) versus a D7 (VB) in the last bar of this line.

As in the case above of substituting a Bm7 for a B7, the minor has a smoother effect than the secondary dominant but either one works equally as well in this situation.


4.
The difference between VBBz2 & RBBz2 is negligible:

Substituting | Am7 D7 | for | D7 | is as common as
the substitutions we discussed that occur in the first line

( ie. substituting | Cm | F7 | for | F7 | F7 | - the same principle applies)

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


So far all we've done is seen that the creators of the Real Book have used standard Jazz substitutions and other tricks to "enhance" the original chart. Big Deal ...

We still have seen absolutely no explanation for WHY this seemingly wacko chord progression actually works. Here's the answer:

IT'S SERIES OF DESCENDING CHROMATIC MINOR TRIADS!

As every Jazz musician knows, a chromatically descending chord progression is simply a circular progression with a couple of tritone substitutions thrown in here and there.

 

Take a look at the following analysis of the first 9 bars of "Just Friends":

| Cmaj7/G | % | Cm/G  | % |

| Bm/G    | % | Bbm/G | % |

| Am/G | ...


Here we have a major quality chord ( IV ) that changes to a minor with the same name ( ivm ) which signals the beginning of a chromatic descending progression that takes us straight into the Bridge section:

IV major  >  iv minor  >  iii minor  >  biii minor  >  ii minor

C major  >   C minor  >  B minor  >   Bb minor  >  A minor

In the case of VB, the Bridge progression resolves normally as any ii-V7-I would ( Am > D7 > G ). In the RB "enhancement", the RB substitutes a circular progression "borrowed" from the last Bridge ( B > E ) to lead up into the A7.

 

Compare the following variations:

VBA1.1    = | Cmaj7   | % | F7   | %  |

VBA1.2    = | Cmaj7   | % | Cm6  | %  |

RBA1      = | Cmaj7   | % | Cm7  | F7 |

SevenA1.1 = | Cmaj7/G | % | Cm/G | %  |

 

VBA2.1    = | Gmaj7 | % | Eb7  | %    |

VBA2.2    = | Gmaj7 | % | Bbm6  | %   |

RBA2      = | Gmaj7 | % | Bbm7  | Eb7 |

SevenA2.1 = | Bm/G  | % | Bbm/G | %   |

 

VBBa.1     = | Am7  | D7   | G     | %     |

RBBa.1     = | Am7  | D7   | Bm7   | Em7   |

SevenBa1.1 = | Am/G | D7/A | Bm7/B | Em7/B |

 

So what do these descending minor triads have to do with the progression?

Everything!

 

Bars 1 & 2:
Everyone agrees that bars 1 & 2 are Cmaj7.


Bars 3 & 4:
Cm contains the essential components of:

Cm6 ( VBA1.2 / Bars 3 & 4 ),

Cm7 ( RBA1 / Bar 3 ), and the

F dominant chord [F9] ( VBA1.1 & RBA1 / Bar 4 ).


Bars 5 & 6:
Bm/G is the same as Gmaj7.


Bars 7 & 8:

Bbm contains the essential components of:

Bbm6 ( VBA2.2 / Bars 7 & 8 ),

Bbm7 ( RBA2 / Bar 7 ), and the

Eb dominant chord [Eb9] ( VBA2.2 & RBA2 / Bar 8 ).

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Compare the following variations:

VBA1.1    = | Cmaj7   | % | F7   | %  |

VBA1.2    = | Cmaj7   | % | Cm6  | %  |

RBA1      = | Cmaj7   | % | Cm7  | F7 |

SevenA1.1 = | Cmaj7/G | % | Cm/G | %  |

SevenA1.2 = | Cmaj7   | % | Cm   | F9 |

 

VBA2.1    = | Gmaj7 | % | Eb7   | %   |

VBA2.2    = | Gmaj7 | % | Bbm6  | %   |

RBA1.2    = | Gmaj7 | % | Bbm7  | Eb7 |

SevenA2.1 = | Bm/G  | % | Bbm/G | %   |

SevenA2.2 = | Gmaj7 | % | Bbm6  | Eb9 |

 

VBBa.1     = | Am7  | D7   | G     | %     |

RBBa.1     = | Am7  | D7   | Bm7   | Em7   |

SevenBa1.1 = | Am/G | D7/A | Bm7/B | Em7/B |

SevenBa1.2 = | Am7  | D7   | Bm7   | Em7   |

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Our only unresolved issues in the above analysis of the first 9 measures of "Just Friends" is whether to use a Cm7 or a Cm6 in bar 3 and whether to use a Bbm7 or a Bbm6 in bar 7.

The minor 7th has a smoother and more vanilla sound, whereas the minor 6th has more bite due to its tritone.

Take your pick, depending on the mood that you want to set. The tendency remains the same, only the color of the chord is affected.

 

7



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