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Pocket Changes

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by gerry grable, Apr 18, 2018.


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  1. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    i have several fake books, old ones. I never bothered with the Real books, but I do have the iPro on my phone and think it is great.
    But my favorite is still the little blue 400 plus page Pocket Changes. I used to carry two during my casual gigging days. The piano players always loved having one. No melodys, but who needed them? It was a given that everyone knew the tunes and even the lyrics in many cases. Now I keep a copy near my lounge chair for quick reference, bridges and tags. There's there's something comforting in holding something in your hand that is clear, concise and doesn't blink.
     
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    That book was created by Mike Tracy (my department chair here at the U) and Glenn Fisher, a local keyboard player who passed a few years back. People like to criticize the changes in this book, but I really like the way it lays out the music in the way that it actually sounds… Four bars per line whenever possible. I also like the way that it tries to simplify records to their most basic functions without giving too much specific information. Tends to make people use their creative side when choosing color tones more than looking at more specific versions of the harmonies.
     
  3. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I think groove doctor mentioned me because we are working on a new fakebook. It's the same concept as the Real Book, but legal under a creative commons license that allows for free copying, sharing, and live performance. I am a proponent of 4 bars per stave. I remember when a beginning band I was grooming was trying to learn Solar by Miles Davis. They kept screwing it up, even though it is a simple song. I then mentioned it was because the number of bars per stave was irregular, and then they nailed it.

    Why have no melody thought? Is this for a gig where everything is straight improvisation? Or is it meant to provide an alternate view of standards without paying print copyright? I guess I don't get the purpose, and how you map the songs in this fake book to the standard to which it applies.
     
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Chord changes are not under copyright, while melodies are. Mike and Glenn wanted to create a small book with reasonable changes that people could take to gigs that would serve as a memory aid for changes of standard tunes. It became so popular that they ended up publishing a second volume, which comes with a green cover. It's the precursor to the iRealB app that everyone carries around on their phones these days.
     
  5. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    First, my thanks to Mike and Glenn. I never knew who compiled the book but it was was an invaluable tool for many of us gigging musicians, particularly bassists, guitarists, and pianists. I heard there were Eb and Bb versions for horn players but I never saw one. In my experience they were expected to know the standard melodies in the original keys. I never saw the green book, or I would have bought one.
    In those days we rarely had charts or any music on gigs which were quickly thrown together, even set working groups often relied only on "head arrangements." So, since every pianist and guitarist had their own sets of changes there were often clashes. The job of the bassist (who also had his own set of changes) was to have "big ears" and follow along. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't, so Pocket Changes provided a common point of reference to work from.
    The first Pocket Changes didn't even have the titles of the tunes at the top of the pages. Instead there were dashes for letters: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ for Blue Moon. A similar system was used by the Berklee Press Publications Bass Method (1959), with clue names like Ar-u-al for Laura or Beachcomber's Lament for I Cover the Waterfront in their chord reading examples. As Chris mentioned above, they didn't know at that time that titles and chord changes can't be copyrighted only melodies.
     
    Seanto and Chris Fitzgerald like this.
  6. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    We didn't need the melodies since we had learned them and the lyrics from our vinyl recordings and the radio.
    I don't know what you mean by "mapping." The tunes were in alphabetical order and written in the same manner as those in the iPro phone app.
    As for being for gigs for straight improvisation-- yes and no. They were "by ear" gigs. They sometimes were commercial with straight melodies, and sometimes jazz gigs with much improvisation.
    As for "purpose." I don't get the purpose of a fake book on anything but improvisational/by ear gigs. Why would you need one on a gig with written charts?
    Of course they are invaluable as study material at home or with rehearsal bands.
    P.S.
    On page 306 of my ancient Pocket Changes, Solar is written in three four bar lines, very easy to read.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2018
  7. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    The question I guess I'm not stating is -- do the actual names of the songs tappear at the top of each chart? Now that everyone knows chord changes aren't copyrightable, does Pocket Changes Volume 1 have "Blue Bossa" written at the top of the changes to Blue Bossa so it's easy to know which set of changes correspond to which set of chord changes?

    Sounds like pocket changes is simply iRealB but in print.
     
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Actually, since PC came out in the 80s, the better way to put it would be that iRealB is really just PC on your phone.

    Yes, the titles are above the tunes in PC.
     
    Randy Ward likes this.
  9. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I just bought the pocket changes and it arrived today. Love the book. I can see carrying it in my bass case for those times you need to throw a chart at a piano player or a guitarist to get through the changes. Or if they call something. I just spent over and hour going through it and seeing if it had all my favorites in there. It had most of them, but was missing Blue Monk, but threw in Feels So Good, Spooky, which is in our repertoire now. Didnt have Green Dolphin Street, and the changes to Footprints were more complex and nothing I remembered seeing recently. Glad Summertime was in it! And in DM too -- the Aebersold key, and Watermelon Man as well. Changes to St. Thomas were a bit different than what i'm used to seeing also.
     
  10. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I just finished a rehearsal where I had to sight read West Coast Blues from pocket changes. It went well for a while, and then I found the Real Book changes were different than the Pocket Changes version. It didn't sound right, so I had to go back to the drawing board using the Real Book version. The real book is such a major thing in jazz musicianship, that I think there is a case for the changes to line up when they are correct. Now I don't trust the Pocket Changes in a pinch...

    The other weakness of the book is that the spiral spine is plastic. The tip of it broke off somehow, so the whole thing starts coming apart at the top -- I wish they had made it with a metal spiral. The concept is great, but these two things are concerns to me.
     
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Well, to be fair, Fake books of all stripes are all to be taken with a grain of salt since there is seldom a universally "correct" or even agreed upon version of the changes to many standards. All changes from fake books are meant to be interpreted in real time by musicians who understand the tune from more than a literal angle IMO.

    I've also never had a problem with the plastic binding. It resembles the binding on the Chuck Sher New Real Book series books I have. But to each his own!
     
    Sam Sherry likes this.
  12. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Well, to be fair, if a Fake Book claims to be based upon a specific artist's recording, (as is the case of the Real Book Fifth Edition), one would hope it would be compatible with a Very Low-Sodium diet. (smiley face here.)
    Very often knowing the "literal angle" of a tune, (as a starting point for study and performance), enables the player to eventually hear, understand and interpret "..the tune from more than a literal angle..."
    IME/IMO.
    Thanks.
     
  13. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I agree, that it needs to be taken with a grain of salt, let's just hope everyone's taking the same thing with the same grain of salt when performing on the fly.

    I'm glad you said IMO because you were on the verge of an absolute statement it seems-- because there is almost ALWAYS an exception it seems - given human diversity (IMO).

    And if you read the write-up for possible consumers is says:

    "This little gem (6" x 4.5") is PERFECT for any and ALL rhythm section players. It has chord progressions only (no melodies) for over 400 standard-type songs, written with large chord symbols that are easy to read in dim lit clubs, and has a large spiral binding that allows easy, flat opening on your music stand. If you play piano, bass or guitar, you MUST get this book. This is NOT some book that "might" help you - this is a proven and handy tool that is used by all kinds of musicians (like US!) on every single jazz gig they play."

    https://www.amazon.com/Pocket-Chang...qid=1536902695&sr=8-1&keywords=pocket+changes

    For me, I use fake books to get me through a rehearsal, a gig, without a lot of fuss given the many competing demands on my time. There are musicians on the musical landscape who have the time to learn every tune that might be thrown at me, but that's not me..

    I did a show a while ago as a sideman, and all I had to learn were 1.5 hours of tunes, a few of which I already knew, and we did the show over and over again. What a breath of fresh air that was! I envy these guys that do a tour of 100 venues doing the same 1.5 hours of music so they can perfect it. And be free of the constant stress of learning mountains of tunes all the time, along with FT jobs and other projects.

    So when you've gotta learn a buzillion tunes all the time for different situations like I do, I wanna be sure I nail it right away. So, I guess it it means comparing the Real Book changes to the Pocket changes when I have notice of what I'm expected to play. This is to make sure they are consistent enough to get through the situation. And always having the Real Book handy, which kind of defeats the purpose of Pocket Changes when doing stuff on the fly.

    I still remember when we had a gig arranged with a top vocalist in our region a few years ago. She told us the tunes she wanted us to prepare and we did the gig with no rehearsal. I guess the tunes she told us to prepare went well on stage. Cuz at the end of her performance she threw a Real Book tune at us none of us knew by memory. Thank goodness were were all working from the same chart as the only thing I knew was that it was a swing tune.

    The other thing I noticed is that unless I'm missing one, the the Major 7th symbol doesn't seem to appear anywhere in the book I could find. I noticed when looking at the changes to Little Sunflower. Perhaps it wasn't in the authors' character set in whatever software they used.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    The PC book was written with minimal color information on chord qualities with the understanding that comping instruments would supply their color of choice.

    I get that it's nice when people are reading and are looking at the same changes, especially on the fly. I remember coming up as a player and carrying that book out to gigs as a piano player and then at some point setting it only in the periphery of vision to encourage me to look away once I had gotten through a few choruses so that i would start responding more to what was happening in sound around me than what was on the page. This allowed me to internalize tunes and to focus more on catching reharms, pedals, and helping the soloists build their solos. I don't think any fake book was ever supposed to be more than a basic starting point to get people playing a tune to the point where they can actually begin playing the song instead of the changes. This book does a decent job of that, but it has its flaws like any other.
     
    Sam Sherry likes this.
  15. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    yet another alternative -- the mini changes version:

    upload_2018-9-15_0-0-13.
     

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