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Does Singing Affect Your Rhythm?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by m0ranwad, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. m0ranwad


    Jan 29, 2013
    Do you have a harder time playing, or keeping the rhythm while trying to sing along? :bassist:

    I just landed a gig with a working cover band, and they'd like me to sing backing vocals. I don't have the greatest pipes, but I agreed as there is already a lead singer and backup vocalist (so I'd simply be blending in). :ninja:

    I started on Rhythm guitar at age 15, playing for my church, and I remember back then that if I began to sing, it would almost immediately affect my sense of timing. I've yet to see if anything has changed, but I was curious to hear from others.

    How the hell did Paul McCartney do it on "I Saw Her Standing There"? We cover that song, and I can hardly keep up with just playing the tempo :spit:
  2. zfunkman


    Dec 18, 2012
    I can sing well and play straight ahead blues/ walking bass line. Other than that I have a hard time; thats mostly because I rarely sing any more. I used to sing a couple of blues songs in a band and a lot back ground vocals. I noticed the more I sang and played bass the better I got at it. So, IMHO, if you work real hard at singing and playing you will get better at it. I hated working at singing and opted to just work on playing. Therefore, I now suck at doing both. Its been a long time since my singing days. I enjoy just playing bass; sing and playing was too much work for me. I envy those who do it effortlessly.
  3. Hamlet7768

    Hamlet7768 Here to chew gum and rock. Still have gum.

    Jun 5, 2011
    I think everyone does. I know Geddy once mentioned it in an interview about rehearsing for the Clockwork Angels tour.

    The answer is the same as most questions. Practice. I find it useful to couple the singing and the bass as soon as possible so you get used to both, but then again I'm planning to sing lead, and also am one of those people who sing habitually.
  4. Yes, I have that problem. I sang lead vocals and played bass for a while several years ago and got fairly good at it by practicing the bass parts until I didn't need to think about them at all. Now, without having practiced singing and playing for a long time, I'm back to square one. It's hard bordering on impossible for me to sing and play with different rhythmic emphasis.
  5. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I just came off a tour where I had to sing quite a lot of backups with very little time to prepare. It was hard but I just had to keep at it (some of the backups involved odd time signatures and some pretty heavy syncopation). Playing and singing at the same time is difficult - especially if you're playing syncopated bass lines. For me it's a matter of learning each part separately and then slowing down any trouble areas. Don't be too critical of yourself - it takes time (there's still stuff from that tour that I struggle with). But when you are able to sing and play and feel relaxed all at the same time it's a great feeling. Stick with it!
  6. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    It's not the singing itself which effects your rhythm.

    It's the fact that singing adds a second (an usually more complex/less repetetive) rhythm that you now have to execute simultaneously along with your bass line rhythm.

    Having one of the rhythms be simple an metric make it easier, which is why walking /shuffling / rhythm guitar is easier to sing over.

    If you were required to play bass plus a complex foot rhythm on a kick drum , hi hat pedal or ankle bells the same problem would arise.

    The trick is to practice both rhythms at once, which can be done anywhere without an instrument. Sing rhyhm #1 while clapping rhythm #2, slowly at first, paying attention to where the lines sync up and where they are off-beats to each other. Then switch to singing rhythm #2 while clapping #1.
  7. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Oh lord yes, but with practice it usually comes unless it is something very off for me.

    I am currently struggling to do the singing in the outro for Slash's "Standing in the Sun". I just cannot sing and play that riff, the rhythm throws me off. My guitarist can play it and sing just fine though, he has been playing and singing much longer though.
  8. Yes, but I can’t sing - and the last time I sang in the shower (years ago) my band room mate (drummer) turned the water off. :D
  9. Twocan

    Twocan Living the Dream

    Oct 5, 2009
    I sing a lot of lead in the band I'm in. I've found that I need to know the vocal part backwards and forwards to the point that I'm not even thinking about it when I do it. That way I can still concentrate on the bass rhythm primarily.
  10. I have an original song that never fails to mess me up. Try to simplify your runs while attempting vocals and practice like it's the last thing you'll ever do. It takes a long time to get really good at doing both together. Humming while playing can also help. Before long those hums will be words/lyrics. Good Luck! :D
  11. LPStephens


    May 16, 2010
    yea, it's like rubbing your stomach while patting your head at the same time...only much harder.
  12. bearfoot


    Jan 27, 2005
    schenectady, ny
    Basically what a drummer or piano player does all the time, some heavy woodshedding will clear it up.
  13. vince a

    vince a

    Jun 13, 2006
    Modesto, CA
    Sure . . . it's like playing lead guitar riffs and singing . . . it's very difficult. That said, I just got into an acoustic band, playing bass (but plugged in), and we needed everyone to sing. I just started doing it, beginning with just the root notes, then moved up to simple bass lines like in "Mustang Sally," then on to even more lines, like "Taking Care of Business." I have totally stopped looking at my left hand . . . and am singing most every song these days, though no lead singing . . . yet! Just do it!
  14. I noticed that my chorus bass was very rooty once my b.vox came in. Practising the bass didn't make much difference for me; it was wondering what the next vocal line was that threw my bassline.

    Like Twocan, I'd play the song in the car again + again, singing along until the melody and lyric became 2nd nature. Then I could let my mind stay on the bass.

    Some people might be the opposite so it's worth finding out which.
  15. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    I don't have any conflict with singing and playing bass. My "trick" is to not pay attention to my hands and leave them on 'autopilot'. When I start watching my hands my vocal tends to stray towards the bass lines. I don't know why but it just works for me if I mentally separate my playing from my signing. Consequently my band has thrown a few tunes my way for lead vocal. I provide backup vocal on several tunes too.
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I guess I'm lucky. Not the world's greatest bassist or singer, but I can do both at the same time ;) Only on the really opposed stuff do I have any trouble singing and playing. "Vehicle" by the Ides Of March is a prime example. I finally worked it out, even though I don't sing it in my band anymore. Get the bass part perfected, then slowly work in the singing. And if you have to sacrifice anything, sacrifice the bass part, not the singing.
  17. Bassdirty


    Jul 23, 2010
    For me it depends on what it is ..if its a dificult bass line..or tricky timing wise..i have.to prartice it until muscle mem breaks in. stait fwd stuff isnt really an issue tho. it drives me nuts tho..like one of my guitarists..sings well..but ya can feel it kinda messing with him timing wise.

    i can sing a play drums with no problems though..the beat just feels natural.
    but we all know it looks silly to sing and play drums at same time. ;)
  18. PeterF

    PeterF Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2005
    North East Wisconsin
    Yup, it's simply a matter of practice. I generally am pretty bad at it. But, I love Pink Floyd's Time so much I learned both parts. Not the toughest tune by any stretch, but not the simplest either. Now I can do both parts well. (Still sound like a tool when I sing though...) Good advice all. Learn both parts really well so they are effortless.
  19. Moe Monsarrat

    Moe Monsarrat Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2006
    Austin, Tx.
    Endorsing artist:Regenerate Guitar Works Carvin, Micheal Kelly Guitars
    I play reggae bass and sing lead. I have been doing it for a very long time (43 years). People always ask me how I am able to do it and keep the bass line so constant and steady. They say "How can you do two things which are so different at the same time?" The secret is that it's NOT two things, it's all one thing. The proof is that after playing & singing a part for a while, when you are called on to only do one it's very difficult to do it without the other part. This is usually discovered in the studio (much to our surprise I might add). Another question I often get is " How do you learn the part?". Ok. I start by learning the bass line. I play it with a drum machine, with a recording or just by myself until my GF is ready to kick me out of the house. Then I start singing. Now....if I am having a hard time with a section I have a trick I use. I simply listen to the bass line and focus on which note the vocal starts on. At first it feels like a physical impossibility but once you figure out where to start singing in relationship to the bass line it becomes clear. Of course, other genres are MUCH easier. C &W, blues, rock....etc, are much easier than reggae. That's why most Jamaican players who see me are shocked to see a bassist singing the lead part. If you wish to see me doing it go to youtube and look up The Mau Mau Chaplains.
  20. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    You guys sound great! "It's all country music just from different countries" - Love it!

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