Jazz musicians will be familiar with “fake books” — collections of directions on how to play songs that provide basic harmonic and sometimes melodic information to assist in replicating the chord structure of pop songs and standards.
Rebranded for copyright reasons, this is the app formerly known as “iReal Book.” It’s a “fake book” in app form for Mac OS X and iOS that includes lots of popular songs and the ability to create, export, print, and share chord sheets as well as play them back with a mock three-piece accompaniment, in a number of musical styles: Jazz Medium Swing, Bossa Nova and Rock, with other styles available as in-app purchases.
Unfortunately, the newest version sees music-making (and music education) back-seated once again, by fear of legal wrath. Copyright claims mean you won’t be able to buy iReal b with any actual songs included. However, these can be downloaded easily enough in the iReal b forums.
iReal b’s isn’t designed to be flashy, but readable and functional. Even on the iPhone’s 3.5-inch display, the app can be an adequate sheet music substitution for home practicing, and on the iPad, it’s gig-ready.
The transcription feature took a bit of getting used to, but once you figure it out, it’s fairly straightforward to use thanks to scrolling wheels for chord selection and accessing other notation symbols. Transcribing a basic jazz standard took us a couple minutes. We appreciated the option to play the transcription back with piano/guitar, bass and drums (fully mixable with optional reverb), for instant audio feedback.
If getting the chords down to a new song — or learning a new song on the go — is your goal, iReal b will suit your needs, and we found it a great tool for building jam tracks for practicing improvisation.
- Easily transcribe, save and share lead sheets.
- Playlisting function allows grouping of songs and setlists.
- Create and edit songs from blank templates or common song forms.
- Fifty chop-building exercises included with additional chord sheets can be downloaded from within the app.
- Available in-app purchase of additional styles.
- Compatible with iRig and other 1/4-inch guitar-to-iPhone connectors.
- In-song transposition to any key.
- Global transposition to concert keys (Eb, Bb, F and G) and number system notation.
- Tempo control
IReal b costs $8 in the iTunes App Store, and works with iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad) version 3.1 or later.