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Why use fake books?

The ins and outs of “fake books” and how to use them

Picture this: you’re sitting around a campfire with your friends and your guitar. Someone calls out a request. You don’t know the song, but you have a handy little tool that will at least get you through the basics so those around the campfire can sing along. Even better, it has the lyrics to help you all. A fake book has just made you a hero.

What is a Fake Book?

There are many different types of fake books; most have the melody line, chords, and lyrics written in a simple form. They are great for musicians who simply want to play the chords and sing along (or just play the melody). They are called “fake books” because the underlying arrangement is not notated (bass line, counter melody, etc.) so the musician has to “fake” the background parts his/herself – or leave it out altogether.

Guitar fake books typically have the lyrics, simple notation (usually the melody line), and the tablature — and nothing more. They often have the entire song on one page and contain multiple songs within a certain genre. Piano fake books are similar, minus the tablature.

Fake Books are Fun and Functional

If you are a new player, there is nothing more motivating than to be able to play the entire song right away. While it may not be complex, it is enough to make you feel excitement toward your progress. While scales and practice are very important, it is also a great feeling to be able to show off a song the people will recognize. This will lead to learning more songs, and having the confidence to move into more complex play.

Whether you are into country or 1970s classic rock, there are different fake books for every genre. Fake books are fabulous for playing music from many different styles. Most professionals who are in lounges or places where sing-alongs are mandatory depend on fake books. They may barely know a song, but a fake book can help them, well, fake their way through it.

Fake books are a fantastic way to expand your repertoire without anyone knowing that you may have never heard a particular song before.

Super (and cheaper) Sight Reading Practice

I you want to learn how to sight read music – a wonderful skill to have on any instrument – then you have to play a LOT of music on sight. Once you have done it, you have done it, which means that the second time you play it, it is no longer sight reading. So, you need a lot more music, which we all know can be expensive.

Most fake books have 100–1000 songs in them and cost anywhere from $20–$50. Have you looked at the price of one set of sheet music lately? Comparatively, you will be getting songs at pennies on the dollar. Plus, you are adding to your request list!

Good for the Novice and the Expert

From Broadway show tunes to current pop hits, a fake book will bring you up to speed and make you the hero on request night. Because fake books give only the bare-bones of a song, they are good for the novice to pick up a song quickly and learned just enough to feel confident to move to a higher step. For the expert, fake books offer just enough for them to get the basic melody while giving them plenty of room to fill in other areas. As you can see, there are many uses for these books. Those that do not like them only have not given them the chance.

Phone Glenn Sutton at: 619-306-3664.

Services include:

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