As I know so many people covered Jazz standards. Are scores on real book copyrighted or everybody can cover them? Or how can one check if a piece is copyrighted or not?
I did some research online but could not find a solid answer.
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“The Real Book” is now published by Hal Leonard and yes, the songs in the book are all copyrighted and published. That wasn’t always the case, early editions of The Real Book were bootlegged, the songs were transcribed and books were printed and sold without paying royalties to the publishers and composers of the songs in it.
If you plan on recording songs that are copyrighted and published and releasing them then you do have to license the songs and play royalties. The rates vary based on the type of release and number of copies you plan on manufacturing. The Harry Fox agency has handled licensing music for years but I’m sure there are several other companies that do this as well. If you want to find out about the copyright of a specific song you can use this website for example, I’m sure there are many others: https://www.easysonglicensing.com/pages/help/resources/search-songs.aspx This site also offers licensing services like Harry Fox does. I don’t endorse or recommend this site, I just found it in a search.
Performing copyrighted and published music live is generally not pursued for royalties by publishers and composers unless it is a very high profile act. There are some venues that pay blanket usage rates to ASCAP and/or BMI for the purpose of being able to perform cover songs in their venues. For the most part if you want to play tunes out of The Real Book on a gig there’s not much to worry about.
You can learn jazz songs then turn it into your own easy becuase jazz songs are based on functional harmony So there are 3 blueprints for a progression Tonic/ subdominant/ tonic ]. Tonic/ Dominant/ tonic ] Subdominant/ Dominant/ tonic ].
You can swap out any chord in the same function with another .
All songs are built from the same building blocks
( this means you can learn how make your own as well as understanding why a certain song is that way )
You can take a jazz standard transform it into original with no fear of copyright violation ( while at same time keeping the level of meaning the same playing same way over it ) If you look at 150 standards your going see the same 3 things happen in all songs [ tonic/ subdominant/tonic ] [ tonic / Dominant/ tonic ] [ subdominant/ dominant/ tonic] There many different chords in each of those groups