For the uninitiated, the Real Book provides jazz charts, including chord progressions, lyrics, and harmonies for gigging musicians playing in bars and clubs. It's something of a badge of honor, like a construction worker's tool belt or the chemist's model kit and beat up copy of March's 3rd Edition.
It's also technically illegal.
|Hand-drawn charts from The Real Book|
I'm amused how often organic chemistry and jazz dovetail together. Something about the overlap between formalized education - scales and chords for the musician, periodic trends and name reactions for the chemist - and free, artistic improvisation jives with both fields. Both have subdivisions, leading lights, and roguish subcultures.
So, I have to ask: Where's the O-Chem Real Book?
You could say that PiHKAL, the "how-to" book scribed by the Shulgins, might be our version. But even that tome has a publisher, typeface, and a copyright! I'm curious about even more clandestine collections of notes, like a longer version of those clipped-together, ragged notebook pages of hand-drawn structures everyone prepares before final exams. Does anyone still have those, and do you use them to inform your lab work? Do any chemistry professors prepare photocopied books that you collect from University Press just before the semester starts?
|Real Book Cover|
*Coda: Although I own a copy of the book, I don't condone theft, especially of intellectual property. Songs count. When I need actual sheet music for a group or performance, I always purchase it directly from the composer or ASCAP-approved music shop.