Real Book- Where to start?
Hey I pulled out my dads old real book the other day and have been playing some of the pieces in it.
How do most people work through the book. Do you go alphabetical order or are there some specific pieces I should learn first?
It is a whole lot easier to play songs you can hum the tune to. So find a song you have heard before - one you would like to play and start there.
Honestly, the Real Book is such an expansive resource and there are so many ways to interpret the material on its pages (those leadsheets serve more as a rough outline than a factual representation for many of those tunes), I don't know if there is one place to really start. My suggestion is to let your tastes be your guide. Track down the recordings being referenced by the transcriptions (this, you can do alphabetically), and if you like something you hear, try learning it from the Real Book and explore the head's possibilities (i.e. improvise). The other option is to join a jazz band or or something along the lines of the situation described in this recent thread. Bands that read charts are good, because you're forced to play something passably, regardless of your personal feelings toward the music, and you can also learn from the other players.
Whatever path you take, it would help immensely to learn the history and language of jazz. Are you aware of the effect World War 2 had on the direction of jazz? The answer to that question is fascinating, and outlines some rather significant developments in popular and classical music worldwide ever since then. When you learn the history and culture, start listening to and playing the music, you'll make all sorts of connections and draw your own path through the Real Book.
The Real Book was put togrther to facilitate jazz jams. Someone calls a tune, you flip to that page and off you go. Remember what Miles said "Don't play whats there play whats not there". Meaning its an outline of the tune and you improvise.
Awesome! Ill look up the history of jazz. And I made a playlist to listen to/play with of some songs I liked.
Thanks for the help
Try going to some jazz jams and see what tunes come up the most. If you plan on gigging you'll be up on what's the most popular.
There's also a great book that explains how many of the Standards in the Real Book were written along with their particular backstory, and a list of the top half dozen to dozen recordings of each song. It's in The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire by Ted Gioia.
Most of these "best of the best" recordings are available on a Spotify playlist.
I find that listening to these "best of the best" recordings helps get into the songs and learn them. Otherwise (unless you're a killer reader) it's a little hard to know how they sound simply by looking at the charts.
Here's some tunes that people tend to start out with and are often played at jams sessions in my area:
Green Dolphin Street
Song For My Father
Freddie the Freeloader
Take the A Train
All the responses have really helped. Thanks
what is this thing called love
if i were a bell
thats a few...
start with donna lee (melody and walking) and most else will seem much easier ^^
Keep in mind that there are many errors in the Real Book. There are incorrect chords due to dropping a bass note and augmented chords that are really b13 chords, etc. My copy has a lot of corrections I or an instructor have written in over the years.
I always start with a song I have heard before, or heard of, and learn the chords (yes, on bass), how to walk the bass line, how to play the melody, and then how to improvise over the changes.
Not to mention **** that's just in the wrong key, like STOMPING AT THE SAVOY, EQUINOX etc.
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