Is it possible to sing AND groove?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Earthday, Feb 12, 2006.

  1. Earthday


    Sep 22, 2005
    New Hampshire
    I've just been getting into singing + playing, and I've got the basic technique down, just letting muscle memory take over my bass playing so I can sing, but I dont like how I can't feel the groove this way. Is there something I can do to work on this, or is it just something that's more or less impossible.
  2. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    It's definitely possible, ever hear richard bona? He'll play an improvised walking bassline then solo over it with his vocals. Or he'll play a groove and then sing a melody over it. etc..etc. he does some incredible stuff with bass+vocals.

    I have been practicing singing and playing a lot lately and I have reached a similar nexus where I can play the song and sing it at the same time, but then to really make it shine, I want to be able to keep up the singing half while being able to step around on the groove. It is tricky, for sure, but it is not impossible, practice and practice is really all I can say.

    Try experimenting with different things every time you practice it, if you're worried your muscle memory is just going to take over.

    I think there are 2 approaches to singing+playing. One is to memorize both parts and kinda glue them together. The other is to have both techniques down solidly that you can operate them independently from each other.

    Try singing different lyrics over the bass part, or try just holding up a conversation. This will help separate your singing from your playing, and it will teach you how to pay attention to both at the same time. You can also try singing a melody line while you solo on the bass. Start with something simple but gradually work towards more complicated ones.
  3. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    Agreed. I do just that sometimes on purpose. It is an exercise for sure.

    Also, try and force yourself to listen to the others while you sing and play. That way, you learn to groove with them. The more you do that, the easier it becomes...and it won't happen overnight either.

    Hope this helps,

  4. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    It's possible for some. It's really tough. It makes you really appreciate a guy like Sting who sings his ass off and plays really syncopated bass lines. I think very few can do it well. Usually you hear the groove factor suffer when the bass player sings but guys like Sting and Bona do it. It think they have two brains.
  5. Diggler


    Mar 3, 2005
    Western PA
    I do it all the time; some are tougher than others. Practice is what it's all about though. When you're singing in the car, tap the beat of the notes out with the proper fingers of your left hand on the steering wheel, like you're playing it. You can separate it after a while pretty easily. You can keep your bass on beat pretty easily with a big kick drum sound behind you.

    Some of the tougher cover songs that I sing and play at the same time: Welcome to the Jungle, Your Mama Don't Dance, My Sharona, Turning Japanese.
  6. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Mark King and Larry Graham are pretty good at it. Paulie too.

    I sing very few leads but plenty of backups. I put my instrument on auto pilot and concentrate on singing. I trust my playing ability way more than my singing.
  7. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    One of the most amazing things I've seen is Geddy Lee sing and play bass at the same time -- he's able to play a complicated part that is radically different from what he's singing.

    Sting's pretty good at it, too, and while his bass lines aren't as complicated, they still groove pretty well.
  8. mksolid


    Jan 4, 2005
    There's a local band around here called Mother Nature's Sons that features a lead singer bassist who plays bass much like a lead guitar style the whole time he's singing.
  9. ignignok


    Dec 25, 2005
    Claypool is great at it as well.
  10. I can certainly play and sing at the same time, but it's mostly strict timing practice, so I have trouble with when improving. I can improv on either my playing or my singing a bit, but I cannot improvise on both.
  11. EricTheEZ1


    Nov 23, 2004
    Clawson, MI
    Check and Mate.

    Here's a little Larry Graham for you. Pure groove and an incredibly soulful voice. One of, if not THE, first slapper and always incredible.
  12. morf

    morf Banned

    Feb 17, 2006
    With time, once you keep at it and get used to it, itll come naturally :)
  13. Bass_Machine


    Oct 29, 2004
    How about Oteils solos, where he plays and sings in unison? I find that pretty impressive.:smug: