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What is a "Fake Book"?


Mike Gug

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Typically a fake book contains lead sheets and lyrics for a whole bunch of songs that are considered "standards."

 

A lead sheet has only the melody notated along with chord symbols. They usually do not include the bass clef staff.

 

The idea is that with the lyrics, melody line and chords you should be able to "fake" your way through the song.

 

Very handy for sing-a-longs and lounge gigs.

Mudcat's music on Soundclick

 

"Work hard. Rock hard. Eat hard. Sleep hard. Grow big. Wear glasses if you need 'em."-The Webb Wilder Credo-

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The ultimate fake book was called "the real book" The thing is all those songs are copyright to someone, but the real book had "transcriptions" which were unlicensed. You had to buy the book on the street corner. Mine is like 700 pages and cost $20. I don't think you get them anymore, but I haven't strolled past Berklee in early September lately.
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there are a couple of online sources that have all of the real books in PDF format. i keep them all on a disc and only print off what i actually use.

 

if you don't play jazz they are useless, but if you do play jazz they are priceless.

 

do a search for "real book" on the top right of the forum and you'll get where they are posted online.

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Some other points to make about the Real Books:

 

  • There are three volumes, in C, Bb and Eb, plus a vocalist's
  • The vocal book is the only one with lyrics
  • They are rife with errata
     

I agree with FunkJazz about their utlity for jazz players, though I wouldn't quite say they are useless for non-jazzers -- you can always use them for reading exercises :)

 

There are also the "New Real Books," published by Chuck Sher Music. They are legal books, they are exquisitely produced compared to the original Real Books. They are overall more trustworthy than the original Real Books (accuracy, etc.) Trouble is, most jazz players just keep using the original Real Books... so you really do need 'em.

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It use to be totally "eye spy" to get one. Due to the illegal use of some of the transciptions. Which is funny because it was the standard book for jazz comping at University's.

 

I went to SIU and the guy who sold them would come through every four months or so. He drove a van and his name was "Jim Shoe", he also sold hash.

 

Good ol' Jim Shoe.

overheard street personality on Venice Beach "Man, that Bullshit is Bulllshhittt...."
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I've been taking some jazz style lessons the last few months. My instructor recently had me buy a Warner Bros. Real Jazz Book. There's also a "Standard" book, though I think there's a lot of common songs between the two books. Tons of songs, but most are from the "golden age of music" (my instructor's words), and I'm just not familiar with them to be able to fake without having heard them. I'm not saying they're not good songs -- just that they're mostly foreign to my ears. We've worked through one song aleady with my objective being to "find the line" based upon the chord symbols, and play it. To do that, you have to have some familiarity with inversions and such. Anyway, the book cost around $40.

 

Rick

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Sorry for double posting. Doesn't let me delete.

 

Originally posted by RDuke:

I've been taking some jazz style lessons the last few months. My instructor recently had me buy a Warner Bros. Real Jazz Book. There's also a "Standard" book, though I think there's a lot of common songs between the two books. Tons of songs, but most are from the "golden age of music" (my instructor's words), and I'm just not familiar with them to be able to fake without having heard them. I'm not saying they're not good songs -- just that they're mostly foreign to my ears. We've worked through one song aleady with my objective being to "find the line" based upon the chord symbols, and play it. To do that, you have to have some familiarity with inversions and such. Anyway, the book cost around $40.

 

Rick

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  • 2 weeks later...
Originally posted by Compact Diss:

... Has he told you to buy The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine yet?

Sorry, been away for a week.

 

He hasn't mentioned the Levine book. We have been working through Jazz Method by Ronny Lee, which I think has been around a long time. Supplementing that book with several jazz tunes. I'm also working on sight-reading, which I've never done before. Actually, my instructor has several books out himself. He says they're too complicated for me right now as they require finger-style and sight-reading ability.

 

Rick

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