The real book

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'm not a jazz player, (I can sort of fake it for a little while anyway). Last week I got a call to do a pick up gig, and the first set was a "dinner" set, and the guy who hired me said it was just going to be a jazz set mostly from the Real Book. As far as I know this is a book of jazz standards, but that is all I know. Is this an actual book I can buy? Can anybody fill in the missing blanks for me? For instance how many songs are included, is it written in piano music, are there any drum charts in it, and any other pertinent information would be appreciated. Thanks, Larry
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
yes, it's a real book you can buy, and it has quite a number of songs in it, from Miles and Parker along with Rodgers and Hart, and Irving Berlin. The book writes out the heads to the songs, and if you know those heads you'll be okay. If not, you have a lot of work and a lot or faking to do. :) I would ask him for a set list, so at least you can come in and know what they are doing from the book. At least you can look at some of the tunes you may not be familiar with and you'll feel more comfortable. Bring your brushes as well. He probably just looking for a drummer to keep time. You just listen and watch. What I hate in those situations is when they look over at me to solo through the head. I hate to solo.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
It's a book. It's like the bible for jazz players. There's also a Real Book II and a Real Book III. He's talking about the first one. If you are looking to do pick up jazz gigs, you should be very familiar with most of the tunes from it.

Get a "set list" from him ahead of time. He might say, "I'm just going to call them out", meaning he's going to pick songs at random from the Real Book. This is pretty standard protocol, which is why you should know most of the tunes from this book. If he says this, ask him what songs he'll probably call for sure. That should help you prepare for at least some of the set.

The book actually says at the top of each tune what it is...Bossa, Med Swing, Ballad, etc... The leader should count off the tune. With the combination of these two things, and a level of competency in your playing of the jazz idiom and your ability to sight-read charts, you should be alright...

Let us know how it goes!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Well I already did the gig before I started this thread, so I got through it OK. I don't know if all the songs were from the Real Book or not, but there might be more gigs with this lineup in the future and I'm thinking I should get this book, any help I could get would be worth it.

I just kept jazz time on the ride, 2 and 4 on the hats, a little comping on the snare and bass when I thought it would fit, and just tried to stay out of the way most of the time, and I didn't get any piercing looks from anybody so I guess I did OK.
 

Average

Senior Member
This book has a lot of history. Back when I got my first copy it was from a guy selling them out of a van in Chicago. I was 15. I think I paid $25 and it was a photocopy. There were tons and tons of mistakes in the songs, mostly in rhythmic notation but if you knew the songs you were OK. Then they came out with the New Real Book or some such thing and it was crappy versions of crappy songs. Anyway, if you look on Demonoid.com or another torrent site there are plenty of torrents for real books. Basically it is just jazz standards.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
You should be able to get it at your local music store. A store that has instrumental rentals for the school year would be more likely to have a variety of sheet music selections.They run about $30.00 each, and is published by Hal Leonard. There may still be some mistakes or alternate version that people will use. There are different keys for various instrument B-flat, trumpet and E-flat, saxophone, instruments.You just gets yours in C. It will have no key identification meaning it is not transposed.
 

Clayton_C

Senior Member
This book has a lot of history. Back when I got my first copy it was from a guy selling them out of a van in Chicago. I was 15. I think I paid $25 and it was a photocopy. There were tons and tons of mistakes in the songs, mostly in rhythmic notation but if you knew the songs you were OK. Then they came out with the New Real Book or some such thing and it was crappy versions of crappy songs. Anyway, if you look on Demonoid.com or another torrent site there are plenty of torrents for real books. Basically it is just jazz standards.
That, actually, is not a "Real Book" but a fake book. Right? The Real Book is an actual brand-name, mostly legal copy that you can buy (I think Hal Leonard is the publisher?) on internet bookstores and that they will actually put on display in music stores. Fake books are the far more useable, much less legal pirated compilations.
 

oops

Silver Member
I thought THE Real Book was a series by Steve Swallow? Might just be a myth, but they're generally pretty accurate (they've got a couple pages in the front where they list the errors they've made throughout the book).

Here's an interesting conundrum: playing standards last night at a restaurant, our keyboard player had his computer out and was just running The Real Book on there. We stumbled across a version of Fly Me To The Moon in 3/4.

Is that just a mistake in the writing/transcription, or can you point me towards a recorded version in 3?
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
I thought THE Real Book was a series by Steve Swallow? Might just be a myth, but they're generally pretty accurate (they've got a couple pages in the front where they list the errors they've made throughout the book).

Here's an interesting conundrum: playing standards last night at a restaurant, our keyboard player had his computer out and was just running The Real Book on there. We stumbled across a version of Fly Me To The Moon in 3/4.

Is that just a mistake in the writing/transcription, or can you point me towards a recorded version in 3?
No mistake, it was originally a waltz. There's a great version of it on Roy Hayne's Out of the Afternoon album. Snap, Crackle, Pop!
 

oops

Silver Member
No mistake, it was originally a waltz. There's a great version of it on Roy Hayne's Out of the Afternoon album. Snap, Crackle, Pop!
Ah cool.

We only noticed halfway through, so we played the head in 4, soloed over a double time 3 feel, and went head out in 3.
 

BebopRob

Junior Member
So when playing from the Real Book (I use the Hal Leonard version, 6th edition). you just play the head, then theres like solos for however many choruses then back to the head to finish or whatever?

Basically, to put it in simpler terms, if I'm auditioning for music schools soon and give a piece from the Real book to the provided trio, what happens? Will they deliberate how long to solo for and so on?

Any advice would be much appreciated! :)

Cheers,
Rob
 

oops

Silver Member
So when playing from the Real Book (I use the Hal Leonard version, 6th edition). you just play the head, then theres like solos for however many choruses then back to the head to finish or whatever?

Basically, to put it in simpler terms, if I'm auditioning for music schools soon and give a piece from the Real book to the provided trio, what happens? Will they deliberate how long to solo for and so on?

Any advice would be much appreciated! :)

Cheers,
Rob
Depends on who's auditioning you i guess, and also on the tune.

If it's a standard 32 bar form you'd probably only do a chorus each for solos as you don't want it to drag on. If it's a shorter form, or faster tune (Solar, Impressions, any 12 bar blues for example) you might take a couple of choruses.

In any case for an audition I'd limit how long anyone else in your band solos for, and make sure you get a chance to show off your skills. There's nothing worse than being cut off before you even start your solo.
 

BrewBillfold

Silver Member
Well I already did the gig before I started this thread, so I got through it OK. I don't know if all the songs were from the Real Book or not, but there might be more gigs with this lineup in the future and I'm thinking I should get this book, any help I could get would be worth it.
I've gigged as much on bass and keyboards as I have on drums, and I've done not only a lot of jazz gigs, but a LOT of "society" gigs--those are Real Book central. On most gigs I've done recently, Real Book II tunes tend to be used at least 25-30% of the time, so you should know tunes from both. I haven't run into many people who call tunes from Real Book III yet, as too many cats don't have it--including me.

As a drummer, I don't think it's necessary for you to actually BUY a Real Book. What would be far more invaluable is to go through the table of contents of at least the first two books (you can find this here: http://www.hickeys.com/pages/realbook.htm) and if you do not mind downloading stuff at least for research purposes, download multiple versions of each one of those tunes--look for jazz artists you recognize if you can find them--put them on your MP3 player (or just use your computer), and listen to them over and over until you get to know the tunes. It's important that you check out at least a few versions of each, as there are so many different ways to approach them. If you're adamantly against downloading anything, you can find versions of most of those tunes on youtube, but it's better if you can listen to the music while you're doing other things--at a day job in headphones, walking, in your car, etc.

Without having the Real Book, and until you learn the tunes, you're not going to immediately know the style of the tune or the rhythm of the melody in the head, but lots of guys call out the tunes in different styles anyway ("'Giant Steps' as a samba" for example), lots of guys play the heads a bit differently anyway, and I've never met a bandleader who would think it's out of line to call out the style after he calls out the tune anyway. A lot of guys don't know all the tunes in the book even if they have the book, and some of the tunes with more unusual structures, like Pat Metheny's "Unquity Road" (I think misprinted as "Uniquity Road" in most Real Books), are not going to be called by a bandleader if some of the players on the gig are unfamiliar with them--there is just not enough information in the Real Book for the tune to work well if you don't already know what it sounds like. (By the way, re "'Giant Steps' as a samba"; it's important to at least know the basic Latin grooves--what differentiates a samba from a rhumba, bossa, etc.)

The other advantage of downloading and studying the tunes is that you get to hear a lot of great drummers already playing those songs. You can steal a lot of those ideas, and if you do something on a Real Book gig just like Elvin Jones, say--or at least referencing something like that, and you're playing with real, knowledgeable jazz players, that will put you in their good graces even more and probably lead to more gigs.
 

BrewBillfold

Silver Member
Depends on who's auditioning you i guess, and also on the tune.

If it's a standard 32 bar form you'd probably only do a chorus each for solos as you don't want it to drag on. If it's a shorter form, or faster tune (Solar, Impressions, any 12 bar blues for example) you might take a couple of choruses.

In any case for an audition I'd limit how long anyone else in your band solos for, and make sure you get a chance to show off your skills. There's nothing worse than being cut off before you even start your solo.
In my experience, it's usually "solo until you're done" . . . if the solo is cooking and the guy has a lot of ideas for it, he'll blow over the form again (and again) until he's done. It might be a bit difficult when you first start playing jazz to tell when someone is done, but after a short while, with experienced players, it's generally as easy to tell this as it is to tell when someone is done talking in a conversation--leaving an opening for you to start instead. Solos tend to have beginnings, milddles and ends just like stories, and you can easily tell when someone is wrapping it up. The toughest thing can be not getting lost in the form, either as a drummer, or when the drummer is soloing (and sometimes drummers get lost themselves during their solos), or as someone playing an instrument of "definite pitch", especially if the chords are not changing a lot. As a drummer soloing, it helps to be familiar with the head enough that you can plainly return to the end of the head at the end of your solo, as a big cue to everyone (1) just where you are in the form, and (2) that you're wrapping it up . . . difficulties with this is why some bandleaders prefer to stick to trading 4s when it comes to the drum solo.
 

BrewBillfold

Silver Member
That, actually, is not a "Real Book" but a fake book. Right? The Real Book is an actual brand-name, mostly legal copy that you can buy (I think Hal Leonard is the publisher?) on internet bookstores and that they will actually put on display in music stores. Fake books are the far more useable, much less legal pirated compilations.
The Real Book is a fake book. "Fake books" are books with simplified transcriptions of popular tunes, giving you the basic melody (the head) and the chord changes, so you can "fake" the tune on a gig. "Real Book" was named that as a pun--it was the "real book" rather than just a "fake book". Part of the impetus behind it was that the fake books that most guys were using on society gigs prior to the Real Book had mostly OLD, "unhip" songs--stuff like "Tea for Two", "Bill Bailey", "Alexander's Ragtime Band", etc.

The Real Book, like all (or at least almost all) fake books at that time (the early 70s) wasn't legal. The first one I bought--in the late 70s, I got "under the counter" at a music store. You had to know from other players what store to go to. It is legal NOW, however, as are tons of other fake books. They got the clearances they needed, changed some tunes where there was a problem, etc.
 
Reviving this thread because I'm in a similar situation as the OP:

I feel like I'm being stupid, but I still don't understand the Real Book. Maybe it will help to have a specific example.

http://www.4shared.com/web/preview/doc/lPg5cw6n

That's the Real Book entry for "All of Me", if you can't get to it.

I've been playing for less than a decade and play no other instruments, so I see that and I go "guh?!". I see what look like two chunks of 16 bars with repeat markers. Logically that means a 64-bar song, which is way too short. So obviously something is played more often than is strictly written.

But as a drummer, how the heck do you know the progression?

I realize that the 'best' answer is you listen and play what's right ... but if you're doing that, what use is the Real Book? Can the Real Book give me any structural tips? Do I need to be able to recognize keys by ear for it to work? Or am I on my own?
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
Reviving this thread because I'm in a similar situation as the OP:

I feel like I'm being stupid, but I still don't understand the Real Book. Maybe it will help to have a specific example.

http://www.4shared.com/web/preview/doc/lPg5cw6n

That's the Real Book entry for "All of Me", if you can't get to it.

I've been playing for less than a decade and play no other instruments, so I see that and I go "guh?!". I see what look like two chunks of 16 bars with repeat markers. Logically that means a 64-bar song, which is way too short. So obviously something is played more often than is strictly written.

But as a drummer, how the heck do you know the progression?

I realize that the 'best' answer is you listen and play what's right ... but if you're doing that, what use is the Real Book? Can the Real Book give me any structural tips? Do I need to be able to recognize keys by ear for it to work? Or am I on my own?
as a drummer you use these lead sheets to find the form and recognize the changes

be it AABA , ABACA, 12 bar blues, whatever

for example

Billies Bounce - 12 bar blues

So What - AABA 32 bar form

to keep up on a jazz gig , if you do not know the melody you will at least need to know the form

I find that knowing the melody helps me much more because once you know the melody 9 times out of 10 you know the form

there are exceptions to the rule, such as Joshua
where the form changes under the solos from the original form
very difficult tune

I suggest for the long run knowing as many melodies as possible
nothing better than knowing the tune

but in a pinch , if you don't know the tune, the Real Book can be an invaluable tool on a gig
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Right.

The 'Real Book' (or any fake book) simply gives a lead sheet. A lead sheet is the basic outline of the melody and harmony and is probably the minimum information you need to be able to play a specific song. If a sax player saw that, they would know what the basic melody is and be able to improvise around it. Likewise, if a pianist or a bass player saw that, they would know the underlying harmonic structure and between the three of them, would be able to play that song and improvise around the harmony. It also depends on the structure of the piece. It could very well be a piece that you play through straight as a band and then solo around individually with backing - that is very common.

It is challenging to play drums when your lead sheet has no drum markings. If I were playing that, I would be analysing the harmony and working out where the cadences are and what the basic structure of the piece is. If you know that, you know roughly where to alter your dynamics and roughly where the moments of tension and release are - that requires a working knowledge of harmony. Not too difficult to learn.

The third and hardest element is working out your comping. You already have the basic melody and as a result, you know roughly what the lead instrument (saxophone, trumpet, etc) is going to be playing rhythmically. Every second bar of a four-bar phrase, there's a set of straight triplets - you can work out that they're a motif in the piece and that they may need to be accentuated. In the final section, those are no longer there, the melody becomes more sparse, so you can ape that by playing fewer left-hand notes.

It's not that difficult but it requires a working knowledge of harmony and Jazz and how Jazz basically works. I'm not an expert but I've played from sheets like this in the past. The ears are absolutely vital - don't get too hung up on the lead sheet. Use both and you'll be just fine.
 

dmacc

Platinum Member
as a drummer you use these lead sheets to find the form and recognize the changes

be it AABA , ABCA, 12 bar blues, whatever

for example

Billies Bounce - 12 bar blues

So What - AABA

to keep up on a jazz gig , if you do not know the melody you will at least need to know the form

I find that knowing the melody helps me much more because once you know the melody 9 times out of 10 you know the form

there are exceptions to the rule, such as Joshua
where the form changes under the solos from the original form
very difficult tune

I suggest for the long run knowing as many melodies as possible
nothing better than knowing the tune

but in a pinch , if you don't know the tune, the Real Book can be an invaluable tool on a gig
Not much else to say other than what's here....

Pick one up and you'll have an incredible source for learning.

Pick out a song like Blue Suede Shoes, Oleo or Rhythm-A-Ning, go listen to the song someplace (even on YT) then recreate the melody on your drums. Follow the form as written then begin to improvise over it. An immense source of musical development.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
It's a beautiful thing to have a Real Book. I recently attended a jazz night at my local drum shop where students and local musicians are invited to play with the shop owner's trio. I brought in the Real Book sheet for Autumn Leaves, handed it to the guys and off we went.
 
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