One music book to rule them all

ipad 2 music book I love music books. If I could play a tenth of the music in all the music books I have lying around I’d be some kind of piano hero. I had a piano tuner ask if I was a teacher. Nope. I just like the books. There’s a part of my brain that thinks that owning a book is like knowing a thing. That part of my brain is wrong.

Among the books I have are a number of fake books, hundreds of lead sheets for jazz standards in crappy cirlux bindings. Fake books are kind of a necessary evil, and there are a few universal truths about them: the tune the bandleader just called will not be in the one that’s in your hand, and when you find the tune that’s been called, the guy next to you will lean over and start pointing out the chords that are wrong and suggesting some substitutions that he came up with. And if you are at a workshop, the shop leader will see your fake book and shake his head and say disparagingly, “You guys and your fake books. You gotta learn the tunes man, in every key.”

Because fake books are so cumbersome and ugly I decided, one day, to disassemble one and pull out just the charts I need for a wedding gig I was playing. Why I didn’t just scan the pages and print a copy remains a mystery to this day. The fake book never recovered, and if you’ve ever tried to put 500 pages back into cirlux binding by hand you know why. Now every day I go looking through that stack of charts more essential pages go missing, and the order strays further and further from any recognizable alphabet.

If you know where to look, you can now find pretty much every fake book ever printed in PDF format, which means if you have an iPad you could conceivably cram them all in there and be done with it. As proof of concept, and in order to deftly sidestep any tiresome discussions of copyright issues, I have downloaded Yuval Shay-El’s transcription of Monk’s Just a Gigolo in PDF format, transferred it to iBooks via Dropbox, and viola. Still a lot easier than actually learning it, but an important first step. Dodocase optional but recommended. Next on the shopping list: iKlip microphone stand adaptor and AirTurn BT-105 bluetooth handsfree page turner.