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Help - singing and playing at the same time?!?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by sublimebpp, Jul 23, 2000.

  1. sublimebpp


    Mar 20, 2000
    Hey, I just needed to ask everyone for some help about singing and playing at the same time. When I try to sing when I play I end up either screwing up my bass part, or forgetting to sing. I think the problem is that I try to concentrate on one of the other too much and it doesnt even out. Also I have ADD. Does anyone have any tips or advice for my problem? Any help is greatly appreciated, thanks a lot everyone. Bye!!:0)

    Nick Wayser
    AOL - sublimebpp
  2. nanook


    Feb 9, 2000
    It is a hard thing to do. There are very few who can do justice to both. Sting sings good but plays for chit.

    I'm no McCartney fan but he is one of the few who can do both well at the same time. There are others, so it is not impossible.

    Thank goodness I can't sing.
  3. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks! In Memoriam

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH
    Singing and playing is just like everything else, it just takes practice. Practice each of them separately and then try them together. When I have a really hard tune(one where the syncopations in each part are very different) I practice the bass part while "singing" the vocal part in my head. Then I practice singing the vocal while "playing" the bass part in my head. There are also a couple of other threads on this topic a bit further down the forum, both of them have quite a few replies, so if my advice doesn't work for you, try checking them out.

    Chris A. rolleyes.

    "I have all my own teeth!"--Jenn Scott Poulin

  4. Licketysplit


    Mar 15, 2000
    Try simplifying the line to match the vocals. Also BassPlayer did a cover story on singing and playing not to long ago, it helped a lot. McCartney's on the cover. And Lastly-
  5. I remember in a Les Claypool interview he's talking about how he practices singing and playing at the same time (and he's doing some pretty complex stuff sometimes while he's also singing). He said that he practices the bass part until he can play it without thinking about it, like he can watch tv or concentrate on something else and keep playing the bass part. Like someone mentioned above, you could also try humming or just thinking the lyrics in your head while you're playing at first. I guess, you pretty much just have to practice both parts to death, and then put them together (slowly at first) and then bring it up to the speed you need to. If you have to do it a lot, I'm sure it would get easier over time. Good luck.
  6. I've been in an interesting position lately, a gig that requires i play 30 some different songs every week of which 2 i sing. Since the whle band get the material for the upcoming show 1 week in advance, and then does a rehersal the afternoon of the show, i usually do 1 and sometimes 2 songs i've never done before every week with naturally varying results. I'm alot more of a player then a singer anyhow, but i know how to "sell" a song and don't do songs a vocally can't do. I have alot of charisma and learned a long time ago that in show biz "cheese" will take you a long, long ways. I don't tend to simplify the bass lines when i sing, but my playing does tend to go on "auto pilot" while singing, so i guess it does drop off a little, but not much cuz i'm hard on myself and do listen closely to the board tapes when available.
    It is hard to sing and play a song you've never done before and not let the audience know it. I hate when someone says "folks, i haven't done this song before" To me, that's just somehow unprofessional. I guess it's the never let em see ys sweat mentality i have. There have been a few times when i've forgotten the words or made a mistake on a new song and when that happens, the wole thing tends to go to pot to me, i tend to lose both for a second. A LONG second. I do practice the songs some during the week, but to me it's always alot different, esp singing, on stage with the band cuz i sing so much louder there than i do in my apartment. It surprises me what songs come off as hard to play and sing. Somethings with a really fast and busy run are strangely easier to play and sing then a sparse bass song at times. Other times it's exactly the opposite. Just depends on the "cadence" of the song i guess. There's been a few times that i was really struggling to play and sing one and felt like i really pulled something off when it was over. Plus i emcee the show, so there isn't much time to think about it afterwards. lol Another thing about singing and playing on new songs for me is on songs i've been doing for years, i learn some little vocal licks that sound "cool" and cover the fact that i'm really not a singer's singer. On the new ones, i just have to kinda lay it out there, alot of times the 3rd time thru the chours at the show i'll hear something in my head to try on vocals and try it and see if it flies or not and if i like it, try to remember it the next time the song comes around. Guess i've babbled enough here huh? Trent


    Keep it country!
  7. Scok


    Apr 20, 2000
    I got a hold of an 8 trk and miced up may band as we jamed. Then I just put the 8 trk through a PA, turned off the bass and vocals and did them myself.

    It alowed me to play live with my band any time I wanted and could practice until my hearts content (with no bitching!). I practiced everyday until I could do it, then practiced more. Now I can make up vocal lines on the spot to new tunes. It's all a mater of co-ordination, like learning to move your hand and feet in opposing directions on drums.

    I really recommend doing this to anyone who wants to sing and play, it speeds up the procces alot!

    Good Luck
  8. BilboBassMan


    Jan 27, 2013
    This is a common problem. It's not easy to play the bass and sing at the same time. Obviously learning both parts inside and out are necessary, but as one who has been singing in bands for years I have a few other tips that may help you. When you practice the vocal and bass part together, do it with no amplification on your bass at first. Bass players tend to want to gravitate to singing towards the bass notes/lines so eliminate the bass sound and just get your fingers used to going to the right notes without focusing on the sound of these notes, while focusing on your singing. I've been doing this for years to learn more difficult parts quickly and it really works for me. The other thing is to practice singing scales and arpaggios over counterpoint bass lines and altering the rythmns of both so you start developing some independence. This goes back to my days at Berklee where we all did tons of solfage and this kind of stuff. It's a great way to practice if you have the time and will also help your bass playing by developing your ear. Hope these tips help!

  9. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    It's hardest when it's a really fun bass part, because you need to be able to not think about it, and even if you know it well enough, if it's a groove you really get into, it's hard to let it go and just do it automatically. It takes a lot of practice in any case.
  10. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    That is really great advice thank you.
  11. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    How dare you sir?
  12. SactoBass

    SactoBass A retired civil engineer who likes all-tube amps! Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Sacramento CA
    Wow! 12.5 years between posts 8 and 9. I wonder if that's a record?

    Anyway, here is another tip. If a particular music passage is giving you trouble, break it down to where you match a certain word, or syllable of a word, with a particular note on your bass. Then keep practicing that and pounding it into your head. It will eventually stick.

    I was in a YES tribute band about ten years ago, and that method helped me alot when learning Chris Squire's contrapuntal vocal harmonies while playing the bass parts. It took lots and lots of practice. But I finally nailed it.
  13. thomphoto


    Nov 21, 2010
    Geese, I thought I was the only one with this problem. I went from rhythm guitar and singing recently to bass, and I find that it's really hard.
  14. Play Less Cool

    Play Less Cool

    Jan 22, 2013
    try and start with singing the backup vocals on some songs because they generally tend to be easier. either being a few notes or just short phrases. try 'otherside' by the chili peppers - one of the easiest basslines ever and some awesome but easy backing vocals in the chorus by JFru. and then you can start working on the verses because the bassline is just one note and a slide to another note (it is the first song i learnt to sing and play on :) )

    but you will have to listen to the song a few times beforehand to memorize the lyrics aswell as the ins and outs of the bass line so you dont have to focus on either but you can focus on both.

    you can also try whistling along to the vocals or guitar part when playing a bass line. i found that easier but only by a little bit. but if you whistle to a guitar solo while playing, that would be better because it is something that changes often and your brain puts the bass playing in autodrive
  15. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    i am going thru this right now
    it seems anytime musicians hear me sing, they want to sing lead a lot of the time; i wish i could just play...
    it is harder to play bass and sing than it is to play guitar and sing-totally different creatures.
    just another reason why bassists are the most important persons in a band;)

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