Since the topic of singing comes up again and again, I wrote this to help out the aspiring vocalists on TB. A Bassists Guide to Singing Sing? Im a bass player, why should I sing? If that is the case, theres no need to fret. You can do it. Maybe youre not forced into singing. You just want to expand your musical abilities by picking up some vocal skills. In either case, singing improves your value as a musician, and it will improve your overall musical abilities. Im not writing this because I am a great singer, because I am not. Singing did not come easily to me. I wasnt endowed with natural talent. But because of this, I really had to learn to sing. I had to take a deep look into how to sing, and how to improve. Because of this ordeal to my self esteem, I have a better understanding of how to sing than those who sing naturally. I still have room to improve, but I can sing in pitch and get compliments now and then from someone other than my mom. How a sound is made Youve probably heard it hundreds of times how the voice is an instrument. Thats because it is. Lets take a look at the voice as an instrument by comparing to our favorite instrument the bass. The vocal chords are like the strings on your bass. Like strings, when they vibrate they make sound. The breath is like your plucking fingers. When you pluck the bass string, it will vibrate, thus making a sound. Your chest, nasal cavities, and mouth are the tone woods on the bass. The woods in the body and neck resonate to enhance the sound of a vibrating string. In much the same way as the type of wood affects the sound of the bass, various parts of your body also affect the sound of your voice. The lips, tongue, palette, etc. are the fretting hand. The fretting hand controls what note you play, while the various doodads in your mouth determine what words or sounds you make. Elements of Singing I look at singing as 5 parts. 1) Vocal quality The timbre and tonal characteristics of your voice. This is what separates Barry White and Axle Rose. They can both hit the same note, but each will sound different. It is the thing that will make you unique as a singer. Some say this is something that youre born with, others say it can be developed. I say, it can be developed but only to a limited degree. Youre pretty much stuck with what you got and have to learn to make the most of it. If you only have one bass, youre going to have to learn to pick in different places to affect the tone coming out of the amp. 2) Range This is the highest note you can scream, and the lowest note you can growl. All of us are born with a limited range, but you can extend it through training. You dont have to have an amazing range to be able to sing effectively. But, you do have to know the limitations of your range and how to work within them. 3) Pitch The notes that you sing. This is the most important aspect of singing. If you dont hit the notes, then no matter what your range or vocal quality it will sound bad. If you dont think pitch is important, next time you jam with your band, play ½ step lower than what the rest of them play. Even if you dont have amazing range or great vocal quality, you can still hit a pitch. In your most limited capabilities, you can still do the most important thing right. 4) Articulation The words you say and the sounds you make. Sometimes you dont care if people can understand your lyrics, but you should at least try to make the tone it makes articulate. However if you do, this is a crucial aspect of your singing. In the same way you can slop the notes of a bass together, you can also slop the words of a song to some Hamburglar robble robble. The problem is that neither sound good. A phrase in music or lyric should be understood and clear. Otherwise, its just some jumbled mumbled noise, on bass or voice. 5) Rhythm The timing of your singing. A singer who is off time, is as bad if not worse than a drummer who is off time. A singer who doesnt come in at the right time, or cannot time their phrases in sync with the band will throw the whole band off and confuse listeners. As a performer, its crucial to come in at the right time, cut out at the right time, and sing along to the beat. The singer has to follow the beat as much as the bass player does.