The Real Book

I listened to the 99% Invisible podcast about The Real Book this morning and thought back to my first copy.

My first year in college I had a jazz class, and I needed to get a copy of The Real Book, a book of sheet music for jazz standards. The book that was illegal at the time, but there was no legal alternative, and I had no scruples about copyright back then.

When a legal version came out later I replaced my original book with the one in the photo below.

The New Real Book Legal

The podcast refers to “When Hal Leonard finally published the legal version of the Real Book in 2004 …” but my book says “Copyright 1988 Sher Music Co.” Maybe Hal Leonard published a version in 2004, but there was a version that came out years earlier.

The podcast also says “Hal Leonard actually hired a copyist to mimic the old Real Book’s iconic script and turn it into a digital font.” But my 1988 version looks not unlike the original. Maybe my version used a kind of typesetting common in jazz, but the Hal Leonard version looks even more like the original handwritten sheet music.

2 thoughts on “The Real Book

  1. Chuck Sher’s series did come out in the 80’s, and the music calligraphy was top notch – much more appealing than the original ‘illegal’ Real Book. It contained some of the same songs, some different. There were several more CS books that followed, w mostly standards and some pop. The Hal Leonard book did a good nostalgic job of replicating the original’s look, and contains song corrections to the 70’s book (which was supposedly done by Berkeley students). I own and use all of them, although there are some song duplications.

Comments are closed.