Classical Fake Books explained
Classical fake books is a new way of helping classical singers read the piano accompaniment for a piece they are trying to learn or teach.
When I say ‘new’, reading chord symbols and lead sheets is a skill many jazz pop and rock musicians take for granted. Much of the sheet music produced for these styles of music contains chord charts for guitarists and pianists, and may or may not have a fully written out transcription of the song or piece in question. It is expected that there will be improvisation within the harmonic structure given, and it is this quality which gives these types of music their special qualities.
Classical music is very much a writing process – attempting to put down on paper what the final piece should sound like in detail, to be reproduced faithfully by the performer. A successful classical musician needs to read music to a high level to be successful. However, it is one thing to be a singer, or a string player and to be able to read and play a monophonic line, than to be a skilled pianist, able to reproduce a full accompaniment of an orchestral reduction, often at sight. These classical fake books are a way to to help singers who find it hard to read piano music to whatever degree.
Classical fake books are for those musicians who are skilled in their field, and want to teach, but lack advanced piano skills to support their teaching. Or they might want to learn a piece and find out how the harmony progresses, but find reading piano music slows them down.
It is also good to remember that music in the Baroque period and before often relied on musicians filling in an accompaniment based on chord indications. This was particularly for continuo players, where the figured bass was used. I like to think of these classical fake books I have produced as being continuo versions of classical pieces.