The Real Book got its name to distinguish it from the Fake Book which printed only chords and lyrics of standard songs to avoid copyright issues.
The first Real Books included melody lines of jazz standards, thus infringing music copyright, and the older versions were pirated, unlicensed publications that paid no royalties. In 2004, Hal Leonard began publishing the current range of licensed editions, which pays royalties to song authors.
Jazz musicians find it convenient to work from "the book", because it is available in different editions to suit B♭, E♭, and C (concert-pitch) instruments, as well as bass clef and voice editions ("low" and "high" voice, with lyrics included). A band leader can conveniently call out page numbers, since each edition is set out identically. As well as these popular books for jazz and blues, the Hal Leonard range of Real books extend to other genres too, such as pop & rock, folk and classical.
The Real Book is an alternative to the plethora of poorly designed, illegible, inaccurate and badly edited volumes which abound on the market today. Clear and accurate, the Real Book series aims to provide a selection of music that is both easy to read and enjoyable to perform.
Arranged for C instruments, this volume contains 400 songs, including Yesterday, Somebody Loves Me, ‘Round Midnight, Have You Met Miss Jones? and many more well-known tunes.