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auditioning singers - bass part question

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by leanne, Jan 14, 2005.

  1. leanne


    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    When auditioning singers with only guitar and bass, playing cover tunes, is it important to play a bass part close to what's on the recording?

    I don't want to throw off the singer or anything, but I don't really have enough time to learn all the recorded bass parts of all the tunes for a bunch of upcoming auditions. The guitarist already knows most of these tunes, so he's okay, but is it bad for me to just use chord charts for the songs I don't get to? I do try to make sure I know riffs and parts that I think are really important for the song, but for the most part, I guess I do it for the sake of the guitarist.

    What would an auditioning singer expect from the bass player?
  2. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    The main thing would be to play in time (so you don't rush the singer, or make him/her struggle to phrase things correctly).

    Also, if there are key bass lines that lead from intro to verse, or verse to bridge, or verse to chorus, make sure you know them as it helps the singer identify when to come in on certain parts.

    Also, because you are auditioning a singer...make sure you are aware of dynamics and keep it kind of low during vocal parts (dynamics are always a good thing anyway, but especially during an audition for a singer). You want to hear the singer...not you.

    Other than that, it may not be that critical to know the songs exactly as they were originally played.
  3. Mel Monihan

    Mel Monihan

    Mar 30, 2004
    Good advise from SUNDOGUE
    James Jamerson once told his son "you will never be me, and I will never be you" so play like you.Most people don't know the basslines "exactly" as they are on records.Some of those bass players were the best of their time anyway.If you capture the feel of the tune and make the singers comfortable, you should be able to take liberties here and there without freaking them out.I'm not certain that I play the same bassline exactly the same everytime I play it. (luckily I'm the singer in my band, so I forgive myself).Music is supposed to be a creative outlet and fun.Some great basslines have come out of mistakes in the recording studio.Maybe you will come up with a bassline that will inspire others.Good luck.
  4. craigers2


    Sep 26, 2001
    my band was recently audtioning singers, and we tried to make it as easy as possible for them and us. when people first called about auditioning, we gave the singers a list of songs that the band already knew, and told them to pick 5 of them to run through. this way, we didn't waste a lot of time and energy learning new songs just to audition singers.

    we also recorded all of the auditions because it was a 2 week process of getting a new singer.
  5. Three Things:
    1. Learn your parts and play them to the best of your ability. you would hate to lose the best singer because they don't want to play with a lousy bass player. I have auditioned for groups that I ended up not wanting to be in after I played with them.
    2. Have them sing accapela. It is the best way to really hear how well they can sing.
    3. record the auditions, Tape tells the truth.
  6. I personally believe a bass player should learn the bass line reasonably close to the original. You don't have to be Jamerson, but you should be able to play the bass line to "My Girl" more or less correctly, as an example, or "Dock Of The Bay" or "Brown Eyed Girl"...Even if it occassionally isn't exactly note for note, the song structure should be the same, when auditioning singers. (For example, the bass solo to "Brown Eyed Girl" needs to be in the right spot in the song and end properly, so the singer can come back in.)

    In the situation I'm in, we were at a point where we discussed looking for a singer. My advice to them, and to others: pick a dozen or so songs and get tight on them together as a band PRIOR to auditioning the singer. Try to have some variety: since we were a classic rock/ modern country/party, I suggested a few old 60's staples, a few 70's classic rock, a few 80's ("867-5309"), a few modern country ("Fast As You"), and a couple of party tunes ("Brickhouse"). Give the list to the audioning singer a few days in advance, let them pick three or four or five they feel comfortable with. Send them MP3's (of the originals) if necessary. Then you as a band will be tight, and the singer has had enough time to prepare. And have words for them already typed up, just to help the singer out too.

    Remember, you're not just auditioning a singer, the singer is auditioning you as well.

    Have the audition place set up in advance, if possible, to make a good impression, and to make the singer feel comfortable. Their mic should be ready to go, easily adjustable, with a decent enough PA to hear them. Tape recording them, as previously suggested, is a great idea.
  7. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    I think keeping the guts of the tune intact is a must for a singer's audition. But at the same time putting a little flavor or personal flare in the tune could also create an environment where the singer may be able to feed off of it. It may let you know what this singer is capable of doing with your style or what else may evolve from a little improvisation. He/She may feed off of your playing and it may become magical, or could be a train wreck! I would say do the first tune straight forward. Then put a little pizzaz in the other tunes after that to see if you can coax out any magic.