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Posted By: Sebs Lead sheets - 09/12/20 05:58 PM
I purchased 'real pop book' volume 1 as my first set of lead sheets as my teacher says we will be working on them soon. I'm amazed that you can use that to either play as accompaniment or play piano solo from it. I know I have a long ways to go but I'm very excited that I'm working towards being able to use these and play pop music.

1. When you use a lead sheet do you always know the song well or somewhat? Such as you've heard it a bunch and have an idea what it feels and sounds like?
2. If you never heard the song can you still successfully play with lead sheets whether piano solo or as accompaniment?

Thanks in advance for the support!
Posted By: Eric399 Re: Lead sheets - 09/12/20 06:28 PM
I'm a classical pianist and play pop and jazz just for fun, so I don't have as much experience. But for me, it helps very much if I know the song or if I listen to different interpretations.
So question #2: I would rather know the song before!
Posted By: Nahum Re: Lead sheets - 09/12/20 06:33 PM
Sebs , an iron rule: you make yourself from u-tube or i-net a selection of several performances of the same song or piece; do not regret this time - this is part of the training; the lyrics are also obligatory.
Posted By: Sebs Re: Lead sheets - 09/12/20 08:30 PM
Originally Posted by Eric399
I'm a classical pianist and play pop and jazz just for fun, so I don't have as much experience. But for me, it helps very much if I know the song or if I listen to different interpretations.
So question #2: I would rather know the song before!

I was thinking that but wondering if a well rounded pop player can get enough information from a lead sheet and improvise it to make it sound good even if never hearing the song in the lead sheet. Although, I imagine they could play it well but may sound far from the original sound and mood of the song?

Originally Posted by Nahum
Sebs , an iron rule: you make yourself from u-tube or i-net a selection of several performances of the same song or piece; do not regret this time - this is part of the training; the lyrics are also obligatory.

This sounds fun and easy. Just watch tons of people performing pop songs I like and someday would want to play?
Posted By: EB5AGV Re: Lead sheets - 09/12/20 10:03 PM
Frequently I use even less information, just songbooks for guitar or ukelele. They have just the lyrics and the chords. Of course, I need to know the song. Then I play on right hand the melody by ear (sometimes I play before the first chords to get the proper tone) and I try to add some embellishments to both left and right hands. This is very funny and provides for hours of playing
Posted By: rogerzell Re: Lead sheets - 09/12/20 10:37 PM
Hi folks--

EB5AVG--my old dad has some of those from the 1940s--they were illegal then! They were commonly known as "fake books", and they were quite small, 5" by 7" or so, and thin. No melody included, so you had to know the tune, or be playing with someone who did. I don't know how The Real Book and others ever got the rights to print their thousands of songs.

SEBS--But to lead sheets--yes, it's always helpful (and makes things easier) to know in a general sense how others play it, but in a sort of sense you don't absolutely need to. However, this can lead to interesting or funny situations, as when I learned "Darn that Dream" without ever having heard it, and played it perky. Some knowledgeable person clued me in that a much slower tempo was the norm. I was a bit abashed, but still play it perky.

Anyway, I once had many such books, but found too many sheets to be untrustworthy (don't ask me which ones, I forget). But still, most of them were useful, and occasionally enlightening.

In any case, why not ask your teacher these questions?
Posted By: jjo Re: Lead sheets - 09/12/20 10:51 PM
It is always preferable to have heard the tune (and multiple interpretations). That said:
1. I often roam through fake books playing tunes I don't know. If a tune intrigues me, then I listen to recorded versions to get the right feel for the tune.
2. I've also been on gigs or at jam sessions where a tune is called that I don't know. If I'm just comping the chords under a horn player it's no problem. I get the groove from the bass and drums right away. If I have to play the melody, I can still get by because the drum and/or bass player called the tune and sets the tempo and feel. But it's less than optimal.
Posted By: Sebs Re: Lead sheets - 09/12/20 10:53 PM
Originally Posted by rogerzell
Hi folks--

EB5AVG--my old dad has some of those from the 1940s--they were illegal then! They were commonly known as "fake books", and they were quite small, 5" by 7" or so, and thin. No melody included, so you had to know the tune, or be playing with someone who did. I don't know how The Real Book and others ever got the rights to print their thousands of songs.

SEBS--But to lead sheets--yes, it's always helpful (and makes things easier) to know in a general sense how others play it, but in a sort of sense you don't absolutely need to. However, this can lead to interesting or funny situations, as when I learned "Darn that Dream" without ever having heard it, and played it perky. Some knowledgeable person clued me in that a much slower tempo was the norm. I was a bit abashed, but still play it perky.

Anyway, I once had many such books, but found too many sheets to be untrustworthy (don't ask me which ones, I forget). But still, most of them were useful, and occasionally enlightening.

In any case, why not ask your teacher these questions?

Thanks! I do plan to ask at my lesson I just like to also have discussions here and hear from multiple members too.
Posted By: Simon_b Re: Lead sheets - 09/13/20 08:00 AM
Hi Sebs

Basically you've got your answers already.

However I'd add the following.

1. If you know the song then reading the lead sheet is going going be easier than if you don't, as you'll already have a feel for the harmony, rhythm and melody of the song/tune. Most pop songs aren't too difficult to read; but there are always exceptions. If you want to play a Steely Dan song, knowing the song will be a lot more beneficial!

2. Yes you can, but see 1. above. Additionally the very nature of lead sheets means that your LH part has to be created on the spot. But you will develop ways of doing that instantly, based on the chord symbols provided.

So what I'm saying is, in short, it depends a) how good your reading is and b) how quick you are at creating an arrangement from the chords.

Of course if you're not doing this in a gig situation (for the moment) you really don't need to worry.

Cheers
Posted By: Greener Re: Lead sheets - 09/13/20 09:19 PM
The lead sheet is a great way to get at the melody and harmony quickly. But that's about all.

In solo piano having an appropriate rhythm can make or break your arrangement, so you want to have a good sense of how the tune goes in order to build a suitable accompaniment and also so the tune is recognizable. The time signature gives only a clue.

As lead sheets are big with ear players, it should only be a guide for the melody and harmony and you already know the rest.
Posted By: dmd Re: Lead sheets - 09/14/20 07:54 PM
Originally Posted by Sebs
Originally Posted by Nahum
Sebs , an iron rule: you make yourself from u-tube or i-net a selection of several performances of the same song or piece; do not regret this time - this is part of the training; the lyrics are also obligatory.

This sounds fun and easy. Just watch tons of people performing pop songs I like and someday would want to play?

Sebs ... I think Nahum was indicating to watch several performances of THE SONG YOU ARE PRESENTLY ATTEMPTING TO LEARN .... not watch tons of people performing pop songs that you would want to learn someday.

That way you get several renditions of the same song which will help develop your rendition.
Posted By: MarkL Re: Lead sheets - 09/20/20 06:43 PM
Originally Posted by rogerzell
I don't know how The Real Book and others ever got the rights to print their thousands of songs.
The Real Book started in the 70s at Berklee, my teacher was a student there in the decade after it was put together and had some of the teachers who guided the effort to have students transcribe the songs and put it together. While it's true it started out not having any rights, Hal Leonard bought the "brand" about 10 or 20 years ago and everything is now licensed and royalties are paid to the artists. He also added lots of books to the series and fixed some of the mistakes that had been around forever.
Posted By: Nahum Re: Lead sheets - 09/21/20 05:29 AM
Originally Posted by MarkL
The Real Book started in the 70s at Berklee,

The Real Book is the semi-legal heir to the completely illegal Fake Book, which was created in the 1940s. I saw 2 versions of the early 60's edition: one dedicated to vocal standards, the other exclusively bebop; and it’s a pity that it was no longer published. There is a lot of music that today's jazz students do not know at all!
New York musicians claimed the FB publisher was in jail for this.
Posted By: trilll Re: Lead sheets - 09/21/20 10:03 PM
Some leadsheet books have the melody lines in music notation - aka, Fake Books - along with the chord names. others have just the lyrics and chords plus headings like verse, chorus, repeat, bridge - aka guitar or ukulele style.

if it's Fake Book style, you don't necessarily need to know the song, just good sight reading skills and you can practice with the singer immediately.

if it's the latter, you do need to hear it first, and that's where youtube comes in handy. listening gives you an idea about the phrasing and rhythm, something you can't get from chords and lyrics alone.

a fun exercise for you - see if you can create a lead sheet based on a really simple song and play from it. do maybe just the verse or the chorus. it's a great learning tool.
Posted By: Farmerjones Re: Lead sheets - 09/22/20 12:13 AM
If one gets the oportunity to comp a vocalist, it's worth mentioning, the vocalist determines the key, not ness. the fake/real book. Be prepared to transcribe. A good tool to have in the bag anyway.
Posted By: Nahum Re: Lead sheets - 09/23/20 10:44 AM
Originally Posted by Farmerjones
If one gets the oportunity to comp a vocalist, it's worth mentioning, the vocalist determines the key, not ness. the fake/real book. Be prepared to transcribe.

It's not absolute. If the singer is comfortable singing How Insensitive in F # minor, and only one pianist is accompanying, then it is advisable to mutually agree to a more "pianistic" key - Fm or Gm, which will surely provide the best accompaniment.
Posted By: jjo Re: Lead sheets - 09/23/20 10:06 PM
I cannot transpose on the fly (without IRealPro), but I remember a concert in New York with the great singer Tierney Sutton and Shelly Berg on piano. They had dozens of tunes on the tables of the guests who could call our requests. They had no music. In one tune, Tierney sang a few notes and then said to Berg, let's take that up a step. Shelly Berg didn't skip a beat and continued playing the tune a step higher. Amazing!
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