John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" and some questions

One of my all time favorite pieces of music is John Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things,” so I decided to see if I could find out how to play his part in that song. Using this video…

…as my source material, I came up with a tab of the melody part (from 0:16-0:29 in the video). I haven’t typed out the tab yet (it’s just scratched on some paper), but I first have a couple questions. One, does it start in B minor? From about 0:16-0:23, all the notes he plays (as far as I can tell) are in the B minor scale. (From what I can tell he starts an the 14th fret of the D string, then 16th fret of the G string, etc.) Two, does he switch to E minor at about 0:24? It looks like he goes to the 12th fret of the D string, then 14th fret of the G string, then 12th fret of the G string, all of which are in the E minor scale, right?

At 0:25, it looks like he plays the 15th fret of the A string with his pinky, then plays a variation of a minor scale starting on the 14th fret of the A string…? I’m guessing that what I’m calling a “variation” is a mode (Phrygian)…? Also, what’s going on with that single note on the 15th fret of the A string? It sounds awesome, but also feels a little out of place (in a good way).

I know this is just a very short snippet of the song, but it’s slow going for me.

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Looking back at my post, I may have answered at least one of my questions. At 0:24 he switches to A minor, right? It’s only four notes, but they’re all in the A minor scale (including that pinky on the 15th fret of the A string). Am I on the right track here?

Great that you are trying to work out the score/harmonies from listening and looking at the notes he’s playing. However, that is hard work…

The song (which, by the way, was composed by Richard Rodgers (John Coltrane’s version is just one of many, though a blistering one)) is so well known and used a lot in jazz circles, you can easily find the sheet music on the web. The tune is in E minor, which “belongs” to the G major scale. What the guy plays at 0:25 is indeed the B phrygian scale (note for note), which is the G major scale starting from B.

As mentioned, you can get the chord progression and the melody as sheet music from various sources on the net - so, no need to figure out from watching someone else play it! Good exercise, though :smile:


And, by the way, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the Coltrane version was heavily re-harmonized, i.e., using more and different chords than the original version by Rodgers.

Ha, what do you know? Here is what I found almost right away: