I mostly play original music these days, so when I’m back in town between tours and get called to do a standards jazz gig, I find myself at times struggling to remember the changes to some of the more obscure tunes. What if I could get a quick glance at a chart to refresh my memory on that particular spot in the tune? What if I could have all the charts to all the most important standards with me at all times?
With the advent of the iPhone I realized that I have a digital screen with me at all times, so I thought that if I uploaded the pdf version of the Real Book to my iPhone I could put it on the music stand and use it as an eReader while playing. I soon realized that the iPhone screen is just too small to read music. In any case, I didn’t really need to see the melody – just the changes. That’s when I realized I had to build my own app to read chord charts on the iPhone.
iOS 2.0 which included the App Store had just been released, so in the spring of 2008 I set out to learn programming in Objective-C. By December, the first version of iReal Book was ready and it’s available today in the App Store. It comes with the chord charts for 500 of the most popular jazz standards and each one can be transposed to any key signature.