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Discussion Starter #1
I've been working with play-along CDs and doing improvising, along with working with a lot of the books recommended in this forum, like Levine's Jazz Theory book, Coker's Patterns for Jazz, and a few others. I'm still a bit of a beginner, but I want to start to learn some tunes that I can actually really work on that will challenge me a bit. The tunes in the play-alongs are easy - although the improvising is definitely a challenge. Are the Real Books to advanced for me at this point? I have the Charlie Parker Omnibook, but I'm not ready for that yet.
 

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Real Books are about as simple as can be. They're really just the Cliff's Notes, ya know!?
 

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Real books are great but make sure you have a friend hwo plays piano guitar or bass, because u need the accompinament
 

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JrSax said:
Real books are great but make sure you have a friend hwo plays piano guitar or bass, because u need the accompinament
That's nice, but not necessary, IMHO: you can use the real books to learn/practice standards. There is some material that may challenge you (that's good!) and a lot you can probably play right away. This, of course, assumes that you can read.:D
 

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My real books in combination with Band in a Box has given me a ton of material to work with. Sometimes I just flip through until I find a tune that interests me then search for the BIAB file (there are tons available) and voila I have a backing track along with the melody and changes (just make sure to check that BIAB is in the same key).

edit: I am definitely still a card-carrying member of the "beginner" ranks.
 

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They're just melodies and chords. Most melodies shouldn't be too hard and as far as improvising, some will probably be on your level and some will be above it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
hgiles said:
Real Books are about as simple as can be. They're really just the Cliff's Notes, ya know!?
So why are they so popular even with advanced players who can read more complex music? In a way isn't it harder (for beginners/intermediates) to work out of a real book since they require you to fill in the blanks so to speak as opposed to learning a complete tune - I mean completely transcribed from an artist's version? Know what I mean?
 

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I have two Eb real books but I can't read them. I suck at reading, but when I use my ability to read without seeing, know without knowing, not trippin and just carefully reading the music, then I feel like I can flow with it anyway. I bought the Charlie Parker Omni book and could read it but it was a little hard so it will need some work. It's fine, though. I'm going to practice.
 

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NU2SAX said:
So why are they so popular even with advanced players who can read more complex music? In a way isn't it harder (for beginners/intermediates) to work out of a real book since they require you to fill in the blanks so to speak as opposed to learning a complete tune - I mean completely transcribed from an artist's version? Know what I mean?
I'm not quite sure what you mean?

The melodies are written out fully and the changes are clear, really no different than the charts you get with an aebersold book. The only difference is that there are a lot more tunes and you have to supply your own backing.

They're popular with advanced players because they can form the basis for the repertoire for jam sessions etc (that's my own interpretation, there may be other reasons).

Why not just pick up a real/fake book and try it out, they're not all that expensive and you'll want it sooner or later anyway.
 

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cleger said:
I'm not quite sure what you mean?

The melodies are written out fully and the changes are clear, really no different than the charts you get with an aebersold book. The only difference is that there are a lot more tunes and you have to supply your own backing.

They're popular with advanced players because they can form the basis for the repertoire for jam sessions etc (that's my own interpretation, there may be other reasons).

Why not just pick up a real/fake book and try it out, they're not all that expensive and you'll want it sooner or later anyway.
They're also aids to memory: oh, yeah, THAT's how the bridge to that tune resolves, THAT's how the turnaround works. Reference books.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Makes sense. I'll pick up one of the real books, and if I think I'm not ready for it I'll hold off. Either that or push myself a bit more. Since I do read, getting the notes of the melody is easy. Getting the changes and improvising with/over the changes is hard. Fast tunes like most of Charlie Parker, Art Pepper, and the like are still beyond me right now. I'm looking to learn a few standards and acquire a few good licks to enjoy playing for fun and creativity to offset all of the time I spend practicing scales, chords, long tones, and reading/memorizing all of the stuff I need to know to improvise well. From time to time it gets frustrating when
I feel that I can't really play one tune well.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
When does one go from beginner to intermediate? I still consider myself a beginner even though I played piano when I was younger, and have been on sax more than a year. In other words, what arsenal of knowledge should I have before really venturing into more serious learning of tunes, and improvisation?

I'm very careful about learning things the right way first, so I happily go through the steps of memorizing and practicing, and I've spent countless hours just working on embouchure and tone.

I do have a teacher, so I can ask him to work with me on tunes from the real books. He's got me working with play-along CDs and improvising. We haven't gotten deeply into the chords and changes yet, but I have been memorizing and practicing my scales, ii-V-I chords, and reading theory books along with
an hour or two a day on the horn.
 

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NU2SAX said:
So why are they so popular even with advanced players who can read more complex music? In a way isn't it harder (for beginners/intermediates) to work out of a real book since they require you to fill in the blanks so to speak as opposed to learning a complete tune - I mean completely transcribed from an artist's version? Know what I mean?
But that's what most jazz is, melody and chords. You fill in the rest. The bass player makes up the bass lines, the piano and drums make up their own accompaniment (within the structure) and the soloist makes up their own melodies. There's no one universal set of piano voicings or ride patterns or anything and most tunes don't have a universal arrangement. That's part of what makes jazz what it is. Some tunes may have standard intros or grooves that are always played, but many are open to interpretation. That's why Real Books have mostly a minimalistic approach.

The Sher "New Real Books" tend to have more arrangements than the Hal Leonard ones do.
 

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NU2SAX said:
When does one go from beginner to intermediate? I still consider myself a beginner even though I played piano when I was younger, and have been on sax more than a year. In other words, what arsenal of knowledge should I have before really venturing into more serious learning of tunes, and improvisation?
Speaking as a fellow beginner and non-expert, what harm can it do??

I don't know about you, but I cannot learn anything using the traditional pedantic method of learning the basics first and moving on only when I have mastered them. I have to be able to jump around and understand the end result I am going after before I go back and fill in the gaps. This leads to some ugly things early on, but in the end I will get there.

On the other hand I am an old fart who will never be a professional musician so my goals will probably differ from a young student's.
 

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NU2SAX said:
So why are they so popular even with advanced players who can read more complex music? In a way isn't it harder (for beginners/intermediates) to work out of a real book since they require you to fill in the blanks so to speak as opposed to learning a complete tune - I mean completely transcribed from an artist's version? Know what I mean?
Pros have already studied the novel (jazz language). Real Books really are the Cliff's Notes. Pros don't want to play it as if transcribed from the artist's version. That's not what this kind of music is about.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
cleger said:
Speaking as a fellow beginner and non-expert, what harm can it do??

I don't know about you, but I cannot learn anything using the traditional pedantic method of learning the basics first and moving on only when I have mastered them. I have to be able to jump around and understand the end result I am going after before I go back and fill in the gaps. This leads to some ugly things early on, but in the end I will get there.

On the other hand I am an old fart who will never be a professional musician so my goals will probably differ from a young student's.

Same here Cleger! I'm 43, and am not looking to be a star. Like you I jump to the end result, working on tunes and improv, even though it often sounds bad. But sometimes it sounds pretty good, and it helps me to get faster at getting around the horn. But too, the more I learn the scales and chords, the more a have to put into an improv, so doing them both together on a daily basis, well, they feed into each other. Also, a lot af weakness, like squeaks and chirps come out more often when I do scales or Klose exercises, so I take that opportunity to really work on embouchure.

Overall, I want to have fun with my horn. Every now and then it feels like a chore I have to do, so I just sit down and jam and see what I come up with or even put it down until I can get back to the "have fun" attitude.
 

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NU2SAX: You might want to check out a couple of books from Sher Publications (the publisher of The New Real Book and Levine's Jazz Theory Book). They recently put out one called The Real Easy Book (and a vol. 2). It's a fake book (melody and chord changes), but the tune selection is geared toward less experienced improvisors (fewer chords to deal with, etc.)

AND, each tune includes an extra page of stuff that includes: suggested piano and guitar chord voicings, suggested bass lines, and improv ideas. So if you're playing these tunes with a less experienced rhythm section, they get a little direction.
 

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I've been playing for 4.5 months (still very much a beginner!) and my teacher sprang some of these on me a couple of weeks back.

A bit of a shock but I'm now working my way through Gary Moore's "Still Got The Blues", Clapton's Unplugged version of "Layla" (a real pain in that key, but I'm getting there!) and last night we had a huge laugh with "Mustang Sally" (if you see what I mean)! :cool:

Give 'em a go. There'll be some that you can try straight away and others that you can look at in a while. If you want backing then pick up a midi and mute the lead parts.

Have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks for the advice all. I'll take a look at several of the books, and figure out which one might be best to start with.

I do have another question though. A lot of the play-along books have you play the melody, with backing and a lead instrument, and then just backing where you're to improvise. Does the improvisation mean that you should play the changes but depart from the set melody, or would you tend to go into an improvisation incorporating the melody.

I've looked at a few pages of a couple of the Real books on line, and it appears that you improvise WITH the melody.

In other words, it seems that there are different types of improvisation. Playing the melody and then pure improvisation, and improvisation over/with the melody.

I'm not sure if the question is clear, but I think you'll know what I'm getting at.
 
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