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Bass/vocals- front man advice?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Tricia, May 13, 2010.

  1. Tricia


    May 13, 2010
    I'm lead singer and bassist of a 3 piece original rock band. It's hard to sing the melodies I want while playing the bass lines I want.
    I'm getting better with practice, but if anyone has tips or tricks to share, that would be great.
  2. Practice the basslines and the vocals separately well enough that you can do either without thinking about the notes. Then combine them slowly. Just hammering away at both at the same time isn't as helpful IME.
  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    if you have to let one or the other go, let the bass playing go. better to play a simplified bass part than sing a simplified vocal. but just keep plugging away...learn the bass line backward and forward first, then learn the vocal backward and forward. then work on combining them. about all you can do.
  4. Good point Jimmy. Most people wont notice a simple bass line, but they will sure notice if you drop the vocals. Heck, most people don't notice bass lines at all ;)
  5. Tricia


    May 13, 2010
    Thanks for the advice. I will try that, getting the bass down first. the vocals are way easier for me, because I've been singing longer.
  6. jay tay

    jay tay

    Aug 12, 2009
    Manchester UK
    The same advice as these guys, practice, practice, practice!!! I find it helps to really work on the bass line, just keep playing it over and over, and over. When I've mastered that I usually find that I start singing the vocals in my head. Once I start doing that It becomes a lot easier to then start performing both at the same time.
  7. you very seldom see melody being sung by the same person providing melodic single note instrument work.
    When the lead guitar sings he accompanies himself with chord work. When he does his instrumental solo, he stops singing.

    I would think it's the same way with singing and laying down a bass line - they pay me to not sing - so I've never tried. Takes a pretty good musician to do both at the same time. :bassist:
  8. ++

    I find that it helps to compare the rhythms of the melody and the bassline. Work out which bass notes come between which words of the vocal part. But yeah, as people have said, practice the bassline so you've got it properly down. It's hard to improvise on your instrument when you're singing :)
  9. Eminentbass


    Jun 7, 2006
    South Africa
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown Amps and Sandberg Basses.
    I mostly sing backing but if I'm dealing with a syncopated bass line I'll practice it very slowly and figure out where the parts overlap or where the spaces between the bass and melody are. It's probably over-analytical on my part but I'll visualize the two as separate lines of music and join them together. It's how I imagine a pianist getting both hands to function simultaneously because even though they're separate units, they form one stream of music. Like I said, I tend to analyse too much but it's not as complicated as it sounds :)

    And as the others mentioned, get comfortable with each part alone before trying to join the two, especially knowing the lyrics because you'll have to recall them without thinking.

    The thing I find hardest is detaching my ear from the bassline. It needs to be an almost automated process and you've got to just play through and not get distracted from the vocal if you play a wrong note on the bass. That's when I tend to forget lyrics.
  10. I do do some of what Eminent bass does. Starting with getting the bass line down like the back of my hand first, I then work on trouble spots by identifying where the vocal and bass follow the same rhythm, and where I have to fit the vocals in between notes
  11. BritPicker


    Apr 20, 2009
  12. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    It can be annoying sometimes.
    Twice as much work as singing with a guitar that seems like it was built for it.
    I haven't really found a tip other than working on it again and again.
  13. Tricia


    May 13, 2010
    ok great! Thanks for all these replies!! I think I'm doing what you explained, Eminentbass. :) as I practice at home, I get mad at myself for missing words, but I do notice that some words fit between bass notes . I guess I was hoping for some trick to make it all easy, but now I see I'm on the right track, memorizing the bass parts for each song first.

    I always thought bass players could naturally jam out bass lines instantly. lol maybe one day?
  14. Eminentbass


    Jun 7, 2006
    South Africa
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown Amps and Sandberg Basses.
    Unfortunately there's no trick :) It does get easier the more you do it though. It's just about going really slowly with the problem phrases and repeating them. I often need to understand what I'm doing or visualize it in terms of sheet music because the subdivisions of beats might form a constant rhythmic flow and it helps to see which part is happening on a specific count. It's like with a pianist, who is looking at left and right hand notations individually but counting for both simultaneously and seeing which hand is placed in between or on the same beat. I'm often astounded when I can see guys playing and carrying on a conversation which has no rhythmic link to the music at all.
  15. what seems to work for me is to forget about the vox while at practice when writing new songs. get the bass down..then work the vox out later. ill record the band playing the song w a single mic in the room then record the final vox later on..nothing polished just scratch tracks..this way i have both the vox and bass memorized...then ill work on tying it all together. alot of the time ill have to simplify a bass line to make it work, but at the end of the day use your best judgement on what to cut..do whatever is best for the song/live performance. -joep
  16. kommando84


    Oct 10, 2007
    I find that slowing the tempo down quite a bit helps me when I'm training my fingers and voice to work as one unit. Playing the line and singing simultaneously makes both parts part of your subconscious memory and allows you to not have to think fully about either one. You can add speed later once you have the parts down.

    Still, I would say singing and playing guitar rather than bass is still ten times easier for some reason...
  17. ^ ^ ^ This is what works for me. After doing it for a LONG time it becomes second nature.
  18. Tricia


    May 13, 2010
    Thanks everyone for the good advice.:cool:
    I will check out those links ....
  19. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA

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