Welcome, Visitor Number

28 November 2016


I often receive emails from people who ask me whether I can help them by providing music, usually for particular tunes that have taken their fancy. More often than not, I am unable to do so.

I was also approached after a performance by a young man in the audience who said he was learning the trumpet and asked whether he could 'borrow the music for a few days' so that he could learn the tunes our jazz band had just played. Unfortunately, I could not oblige: the 'music' was in our heads and not on paper.

So, if you are learning to play a musical instrument and want eventually to be in a traditional jazz band, where can you get the music? 

Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible these days to go into a music shop and buy off the shelf a dixieland band arrangement of, say, Maple Leaf Rag, or sheet music for Steamboat Stomp.

So picking tunes up from old recordings by ear is one solution. And it is a method we occasionally resort to.

But if you hunt on the Internet, you can find some sites that will help you. In particular I recommend the site of that fine, generous, Swedish musician Lasse Collin:
If you use Lasse's materials, you will have enough to keep your band going for years. He provides clear lead sheets, giving the melody line and the chords in a simple form. That's just what you and your band need.

Another possibility is to buy buskers' books (fake books). These also provide collections of lead sheets.
Second-hand copies of these are cheaply available on Internet auctions. But be careful to buy those that contain tunes that will definitely be of use in traditional jazz. Many fake books - despite their bulk - contain very little that will be of use to you.