Piano Sheet Music

Fake Book sheet music graphicMany PSR and/or Tyros owners enjoy "playing by ear." Others rely on sheet music to learn and play songs. There are many different kinds of sheet music available. If you play the piano, you may already have plenty of "piano" music available (a popular format for many song books). Piano music shows both a treble and bass clef, and what to do with your right hand and your left hand. Sometimes, you will also see chord notation. The notes played with the left and right hands often combine to produce the chord used in the song. However, piano-style music notation is not ideal for arranger keyboard players.

Fake Books

The Best Ever Fake Book Knowing chords is critical to playing an arranger keyboard. The right hand plays the melody. The left hand plays the chords (even if only the one-finger variety). So, the music notation should clearly specify what chord is needed as the melody moves along.

"Fake books" provide an excellent form of musical notation for arranger keyboards. Fake Books are collections of songs with a notated melody line, chord symbols, and complete lyrics (see sample line below). These books are the mainstay of professional musicians, and once you've learned how to use a fake book, you'll enjoy a new level of playing experience. The expression, "fake book," comes from the fact that the music generally shows the melody, chords, and lyrics, but that's all.

sample line from fake book sheet music

The musician has to "fake it" from there. In the case of an arranger keyboard, you have a lot of help. You simply play the correct "chord" and the accompaniment styles provide a lot of "faking" for you. All you have to do is to play the melody with your right hand.

For an excellent article on the origin and history of Fakebooks, see Bob Keller's article "The Joy of Fakebooks" with companion Fakebook Review.

Finding a Fake Book

You can generally find a fake book in your local music store. You'll also find them in the larger bookstores. These books, however, fill a relatively narrow market niche, so you're not likely to find a large selection of fake books in any one store. You can always order fake books from an online supplier such as Barnes & Noble or Amazon. The link(s) provided in the book description show current pricing and take you directly to a book detail page. Fake books do go out of print, so you may have to search for used books or look on eBay and you may find some used bargains. And, of course, don't forget your local library. If you've never seen a fake book, you may be able to check one out at the libary and see whether or not these books are for you.

Fake Book Listings

In this section, I have compiled a list of the major fake books on the U.S. market. Hal Leonard publishes most of them but there are also books by Sher Music and Alfred Publishing and others. There are more than 100 books listed here, so I have divided the books into several categories to help you find the kind of book that best suits you. The categories are defined below and are also shown in the navigator at the top of each page in this section.

Category Contents

In each category, you'll find a small picture of the book and a brief description of the book and some of the songs included. Book info includes the publisher, the list price, the ISBN number, the number of songs in the book and the number of pages.

Finding a Particular Song

If you follow the links to the book detail, you may, in some cases, find a complete listing of the songs found in the book. Sometimes, however, you may be more interested in a particular song and want to find a book with that song included. I have compiled an index to all the songs found in 50 of these books. That index is available in the "FB Songs" section. Since the complete index includes over 12,140 song titles, songs are sorted by title and shown on individual alphabetical pages.

This page updated on August 25, 2021.