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Singing while playing...how many of us do it, do it well, and how or why


Rick Hoffman

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The cover band I'm in needs a singer. I always practiced my vocals but never sang in lead situations. I never sang and played. But I've been in the same cover band for a few months and we have our first set rehearsed to near perfection, musically. We haven't found anyone to sing yet so I stepped up for now. A guitar player from my other band occasionally comes in and sings lead and I will sing backups. None of the guitar players sing which I think is a huge weakness.

Anyhow, I have noticed it is easier for me to sing and play now, since I know most of the songs by heart and I don't have to listen as much and I can focus on singing and phrasing. Some songs are tricky, like "Cinnamon Girl" by Neil Young, I'm harmonizing and singing in key, but I'll drop a note hear and there on the bassline.

Eventually I feel as though I will get it,its just a pain having to read lyrics, while singing directly into a mike, and consciously trying to create good tone out of my bass. Never had this much responsibility before! :freak: Plus-it feeds my ego. Oh no I sound like a guitar player now. :P

But anyway I suppose the point I'm making is I love to sing, I'm always singing inside when I'm playing...I just need to learn how to get that internalization out of me when I'm playing and singing aloud, and its weird sometimes especially when your bandmates look to you for timing.

Any exercises on this? Thanks

"The world will still be turning when you've gone." - Black Sabbath

 

Band site: www.finespunmusic.com

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Whoa, I'm in a similar situation. Thankfully after trying to step up myself, the guitar stepped on, but there's this one song where the guitar rhythm is so hard and I'm ONLY playing roots in the same rhythm as him, plus grooving, so I'm supposed to sing that. He still hasn't gotten me the lyrics he wrote... :mad: ... so I don't have a melody, but I do know that I can sing in that key.

 

Just relatin'.

In Skynyrd We Trust
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As a guitar player, I've always done it.

 

I've never understood how bass players do it, though.

 

By the way, check out "It's Impossible to Play the Bass and Sing". Great song.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Originally posted by II Cliff Burton II:

Some songs are tricky, like "Cinnamon Girl" by Neil Young, I'm harmonizing and singing in key, but I'll drop a note hear and there on the bassline.

"Cinnamon Girl" is hard for me as well, and I usually sing backup on that. Even though I know the bass part, I catch myself rehearsing the middle-8 ("Pa, send me money...") just before the song starts. I try to focus on the harmony part, which is another hurdle, and I usually skip the held note at the end of that to focus on my timing.

 

You just have to keep practicing it (and other songs) because focusing on remembering the words and singing in key (always a problem for me) just only gets easier the more you do it. That, and keep up with your singing exercises, which help expand your range and improve your projection & breathing. It don't come easy!

:thu:

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Originally posted by shniggens:

Originally posted by bpark@prorec.com:

 

By the way, check out "It's Impossible to Play the Bass and Sing". Great song.

 

Bill

Who's that by?
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jayleonhart7

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Hey guys. Great responses, I don't practice as much as I should. I have always played by feel and I have done it that way for almost 10 years with bass. Only lately have I begun a more strict regimen involving metrinomes and reading music, and learning more involved theory -right now I'm focused on melodic minors. Once I learn a scale in every key and position I'll move on to the next. I'm lucky if I get one scale nailed in a month - because I rarely practice at home unless its learning a song for a band and I usually have that nailed just after listening to it. Somehow after getting into more theory I feel like I've lost something. I don't know exactly what yet. Well not that I lost something, maybe - more like I think differently now .

Maybe if I hadn't smoked I'd have a better voice. I live my life so wrong, yet I'm trying to play the music so right, and they go hand in hand.

Well before I ramble on I will add our version of AC/DC's Highway to Hell with me on lead vocals is quite the show stopper.

Cheers

-The Rickler

"The world will still be turning when you've gone." - Black Sabbath

 

Band site: www.finespunmusic.com

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Yeah...what they said Cliff....practice....

I'm not and never have been a lead singer. I always sing back-up and harmonies. Somehow I seem to be able to pick out third part harmonies. It took lots of practice to be able to do that and play bass at the same time.

Generally I try to get the bass lines nailed first and then get the vocal parts tight. We probably do half our rehersals with just an acoustic guitar and work on the vocals.

Its also helpful to record your practice sessions. You can practice on your own, and it also is your best critic. The tape doesn't lie. If it doesn't sound right, its a lot easier to pinpoint the problems and fix them.

 

I'd like to hear "Highway to Hell" too.... :D

 

Rock on.....

 

Tommy

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can't sing, can hardly play bass

 

definetly cant sing and play bass at the same time.

 

I can't even move around too much while playing without screwing up.

 

I can only do other stuff while playing when I am playing something super easy, like letting a note ring, and even then I sometimes screw up.

:freak:

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What a lot of other people said -- practice. The more you do it, the better you get. . .No other way about it, really.

 

Never intended to sing and play myself. But that all changed with my first rehearsal with my first band sixteen years ago. . .

 

Nowdays, I think knowing my bass part well helps from the singing angle. Every once in a while, for one reason or another, I find myself singing and playing on a song I usually don't do. . .or have never done. Best I can say is just roll with it. . .Things seem to work best for me -- especially if I'm in "uncharted" territory -- if I just put the playing part on "auto pilot", so to speak, and concentrate a little extra on singing. . . Plus, you can always simplify the playing part a little, and add the more intricate stuff as you get more comfortable with the song as a whole. . .

 

Seems we have somethingin common here, too. "Highway to Hell" is probably my most requested vocal number. . .Bon Scott was THE MAN. . . But, I digress. . .

"When it comes to havin' a good time, nothing beats 'fun'. . ."

 

-- Stefan Johnson

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I never wanted to sing. I've been doing it for a year. We just couldn't find a dependable singer. I've written so many songs that the band made me start singing them. And my guitar player forgets the words to even his own songs, so i got stuck singing them too. Although I can stay on pitch, most of the time, there's absolutely nothing remarkable about my voice and quite frankly I hate the sound of it.

 

Problem two is I like to dance when I play. I have to learn to contain my movement or I'll get winded. I also realized I can't just drop out or elect to skip something as when I just sang backup. If I'm gonna drop a note, I've elected to drop the occaisional bass note and keep singing.

 

I used to skip all over the fretboard looking for intresting things to do while playing. While singing I have to concentrate more on position because you can't look down at what you're doing so much while trying to project voice. I practiced singing and playing for a long time before I tried to do it on stage. There I had to learn to do it all over again because the nervousness and energy would get the best of me. Still, some of my bass lines are just too busy to play correctly while singing. Im still working on those.

 

Around here there are a lot of really good singing bass players. When it was demanded of me i had no excuse. I study these other guys (and gals) to see how I can do it better. They make it look so easy. I know it comes from doing it till it's second nature. I figure in another year I might start to get good at it.

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I've always been able to sing and play bass simultaneously. I don't know why, it just came naturally. Maybe it's because I started so young and wasn't aware that it's supposed to be difficult? There are some twisted syncopated lines that are hard to sing against. I just play & sing them until they become second nature. Practice, practice, practice.
Later..................
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Originally posted by Cozmicslop:

I used to skip all over the fretboard looking for intresting things to do while playing. While singing I have to concentrate more on position because you can't look down at what you're doing so much while trying to project voice.

I used to be more free-wheeling when I played. Singing lead has helped me do a better job of laying down the groove. Now when I'm not singing, I concentrate a bit more on the foundation work than keeping my fingers busy. I think our drummer has appreciated the subtle change.

 

My favorite comment here (which I undoubtedly made in the other thread) is that you don't always have to simplify the bass part - sometimes you can simplify the vocal.

 

I did most of the lead work for years in my current band. Then we got a singer, but it didn't work out. I'm now doing 70% (we shifted some of the vocals to one of the guitarists), but we're auditioning a new singer at the next rehearsal. I'm really hoping he works out, and I can go back to backgrounds...

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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I sing harmony on about half of our band's songs. I sing whenever I hear a part in my head that I think will sound good. Most of the time I have no problem with this, but a new harmony I came up with recently is a completely different rhythm than my bass part. Both sound really good but it is definitely hard to do them together. When I do, either the singing or the playing gets sloppy. So I just decided to have the bass part down pat so that I don't even think about it. I totally agree with whoever said to learn them both well and then mix them together. But it definitely can be done. I think that part of it is immersing yourself in the music, so if you can put a recording of it in your car and sing along with it all the time that helps me to remember. Then no one is listening and making you nervous either. :)
"Every act of love is a work of peace, no matter how small." -Mother Teresa
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  • 1 year later...

Alrighty!

I did my first gig with a mic this Saturday! :)

For a while now I knew I might have to do some BVs. I dutifully searched for all the old threads here. Man, they were great. I had no need to post anything, I just printed everything out and devoured it.

I found it incredibly hard to sing and play at first but it was just a matter of practice, tapping my foot and getting all the metric relationships worked out. It did knock my bass out of kilter a few times and I still can't sing 'Come Together' while playing that line! :freak: I chose not to sing on that.

Sometimes my voice wanted to follow my bass and I had to practice those lines a lot. For instance, I had to sing the keyboard line on Bob Marley's 'Three Little Birds' hwile playing bass.

I do a lot of cover gigs with a quartet. The leader also gets offered a lot of duo gigs. That usually meant guitar/vocals and keyboards/vocals plus backing tracks. He really grew to hate the backing tracks and the duo gigs so now he hads turned all the duo gigs into trio gigs (guitar/vocals bass/vocals and drummers). Bad news for the keyboard player! :(

The plus points are:

1 - I get more work :D

2 - The hot drummer we have makes everything sound amazing!

3 - Some of these venues have not had a live drummer before and love having a rhythm section in their club/bar/venue. We went down an absolute storm on Saturday, called back for 2 encores, they even requested a drum solo!

 

The negative points are:-

1 - I have to sing

2 - I have to sing

etc.

 

My voice is terrible, absolutely dire - I can't hardly hold a note and I'm musical enoough to know how bad it is. Fortunately we stripped the BVs down to essentials. Also, luckily, for some reason my mic wwas really quiet - maybe it was faulty or maybe the leader mixed me down! Phew! ;)

 

I managed to get through the 'ordeal' really through positive thinking. It's not subtle music - it's 50s rock and roll, 70s glam rock and reggae tunes (all mixed in with a dash of drum n bass rhythm on the kit). If I just sang badly with gusto I thought I'd do better than singing badly tentatively. I thought I'd go for the pub singalong style!

 

Can you believe not one person in the audience complained about the bad singing or appeared to really notice? I'm sure they were all gritting their teeth really! ;)

 

I'd like to think that the playing made up for the singing!

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Is this the place to add what songs are the toughest to sing whilst playing?

 

I vote for Come Together.

Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love. Know the song.. I can play the tune sleeping, driving AND on a cell phone, but sing it too? HA! Singing I stick in more break-ups and stutters than a crack filled Hollywood tabloid.

 

As for the problem at hand... +1 for everyone. Practice both seperate then bring them together...work out the hard sections slowly build up speed.... Ta-daaahh!! SUPERSTAR!

 

Peace

Brocko

Don't have a job you don't enjoy. If you're happy in what you're doing, you'll like yourself, you'll have inner peace. ~ Johnny Carson
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Thing is, I thought my problem was singing and playing at the same time. It turns out that isn't as much a problem for mw as actually singing in tune (full-stop). I guess, like every instrument, you have to practise. I know I never gigged when I was as poor a bassist as I am a singer! For me now, it's just a question of practising singing.
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I've been singing while playing guitar since probably 1960.

 

Since I've been playing bass, (2 years) I still have to spend a lot of attention time watching that I play the right notes - it still doesn't come absolutely naturally.

 

So I can't sing & play bass at the same time. I can't split my brain & play what is effectively 2 melody lines simultaneously - one on the bass & one on the vocal. I always end up singing the bass line - very rum indeed.

 

I have an enormous respect for those who can.

 

eg Jack Bruce.

 

Geoff

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the World will know Peace": Jimi Hendrix

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=738517&content=music

The Geoff - blame Caevan!!!

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No-one has mentioned taking singing lessons.

 

Really, whether we are self-taught on the bass or not, we should have enough respect for singing that we realise to improve our singing we should take lessons?!

 

When I am done with drums, singing or guitar comes next.

 

S'OK Mr Sisk - I know that you are never finished with any instrument, especially drums ...

 

Davo

"We will make you bob your head whether you want to or not". - David Sisk
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