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never been more humiliated...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by tuBass, Apr 10, 2003.

  1. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    I got a call from my church's music minister a couple of nights ago. He has to go out of town this weekend, and the guy who usually serves as his backup won't be in town either. SO he asked me if I wouldn't mind running the music this weekend. I told him I would take care of it, including running practice on Wednesday night. I had our sound guy record the practice on minidisc so I could listen to it and get ideas on what to improve before sunday morning's early practice. What I heard on the disc made me not know whether to laugh or cry.

    I suck at singing, not just a little, but a lot. I can sing the bass parts to some songs OK, but honestly thought my intonation and tone quality were at least passible, but that isn't what the tape reveiled. It sucked every way a person can suck, and now I am really worried about Sunday morning, not just for me, for fear about what would happen if a visitor chooses to take this week to check out our little church.
    On the recording, the mix stunk, way too much of me, and not enough of the two girls singing (both altos, we'll have a soprano there on sunday) I'm hoping that turning me down will help a little bit, and I now know which bnotes I should never try to go above. I told my wife that if I try to sing too high or start forcing my voice, she should take out a crossbow and shoot me right there in front of everybody. Not in the head, just in the arm or leg.

    Anybody have any tips for a lost cause like me? I could post a short clip if anybody wants to hear part of the practice, but I would only do it if you have a background in vocals and thought you could give me some tips.

    Thanks for any suggestions, My singing is a little better when I don't try to play at the same time, but not by much. If anything, the bass may actually help keep me on pitch.

  2. what about getting someone else to sing? or play bass?

    the mixing maybe bad, becuase it was recorded before it was actually mixed. Why would your soundguy want to have 90% and 10%% everyone else?!

    I found this on our band's DVD that got recorded for us, I'm not sure if it was recorded before being mixed, but the mixing and sound quality was not very good!

    So maybe your not as near bad as it seems. :)

    g'luck :bassist:
  3. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    If this is the first time you've heard your singing on tape, don't be surprised! It always sucks the first time you hear yourself back. You do get used to it, and you do get better, believe me.
  4. bizzaro


    Aug 21, 2000
    If you really want to sing...............how about voice lessons!!?? It won't help you for this Sunday but if you want to learn to sing find a teacher.
  5. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    it sounds as though even if what you say is true, you're being incredibly hard on yourself. anytime there's a bad mix it can be like putting the worst we've got under a microscope - recordings have a way of either bringing out the best of a performance or really accentuating the bad. i've recorded bass parts that I know were godlike :eek: and in an early mix sounded like I shouldn't be allowed to hold a bass. when the mix is right things fall a lot more into place.

    as moley said also, hearing yourself (even if not for the first time) can take some getting used to.

    when you do your performance i'm sure NOBODY is going to hold you to the standards that you're holding yourself to. people will most likely be getting into the spirit of the whole thing and that's IMO a lot more important than whether you're completely on key or giving a classicly worthy performance.

    if i were in your shoes and as panicked as you sound i might choose to lower myself in the mix, turn up the reverb, or use my favorite cure all - a good dose of chorus.

    in the future if I wanted to continue singing I'd probably record myself more to get a more accurate picture, take some lessons, and practice as much as possibly. you may have just had a REALLY bad rehearsal.

    oh yeah - even if you are terrible, there's lots of terrible singers out there that completely pull it off. sing terribly with confidence!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  6. You could try this warm up exercize, take your bass and find a comfortable note to sing. Now sing and play a major scale up to the fifth and down again, then move up a half step*. Repeat this until you can't go any higher then do it again but move down, just play the 8th to the fourth and up again. Try it with minor scales too. This way you have a point of reference so you know if you're not singing in key and it's a good exercize.

    Just remember that your pastor wouldn't have asked you if he didn't think you could do it. :)

    *If you're not sure what to sing, try "La" or "Viva viva viva viva vo", it works for us in my choir.
  7. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Do songs that the congregation and, particularly, the other singers know really well. Often you can get the song moving and then pretty much let it take it's course (just giving an indication of what's coming next - repeat the chorus, move to the next song etc). Unlike a gig, most people are probably not there just because of the quality of the music... as soon as they participate they'll find your voice far less distracting.

    I never used to think I could sing but I've been happily leading worship at my church on a regular basis for several years now. I'm still not sure I could join a band as a vocalist but I can certainly get the job done... :oops: (singing smilie)

  8. tuBass,

    Intonation in singing revolves around two factors:

    1. Breath control - most people don't realize that it doesn't take a lot of breath to sing a note. Since they don't understand this, they end up using their breath before the end of a phrase - thus losing intonation.

    2. The other main killer of intonation is the failure to sing vowels all the way through. All the consonants stop or hinder the passage of air through the mouth, but vowels don't. People lose intonation trying to sing consonants or not holding the vowels all the way through. That's the extent of my knowledge on the subject.

    My other advice is that its church. Singing can be a form of worship no matter how good or bad it is - in other words - don't sweat what other folks think.
  9. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA

    Here's a practical way to get instantly better.

    Minimize your basslines, I mean MINIMIZE THEM TO THE MAX, I'm talking ROOTS ONLY when you're singing. This will allow you to concentrate on your singing more than your bass playing. Also, if you were planning on using your fretless this week, forget it. Even for someone with years of experience on a fretless the simultaneous intonations of your vocal chords and the fretless bass is very difficult to maintain (Sting is aweomse at this, but very few can pull it off). Use your Yamaha BBG5S fretted this week and leave the Cort custom fretless at home.

    Doing both together well takes years of practice (really). Don't expect to be good right away.
  10. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    If you're that concerned about it, have the soundperson keep your vocal mike down in the mix. People will be able to hear that you're singing, just not the details. If they are familiar with the tunes, they're minds will fill in the blanks.

    A vocal mic that is too hot makes even an excellent singer sound bad, IMO, and running vocals too loud is a common problem with live church music.
  11. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    Thanks for all the great suggestions, I will answer some of the comments and questions.

    Microbass, THe mindisc is post mixer, I don't know why the mix is so bad on the recording, but I will encourage the sound guy to bring me down. I think he was thinking since I am the song "leader" this week I should be the biggest voice, but there will be much more talented people singing on sunday.
    As for letting somebody else play bass, I could do that, but I'm using the bass to help me stay on pitch, and If I didn't have the bass I wouldn't have a music stand in front of me, which is where I keep all of my notes on the order of worship. Plus I just feel more comfortable with it. I can't explain why, but I'd feel naked without it.

    Bizzaro, voice lessons are something that I hope to be able to do very soon, if I can find a good teacher that I can afford. My wife and I are expecting in the next month, so things like that may have to be put off a little.

    Joe Nerve, Thanks for the comments and support, a little chorus and reverb sounds like a great idea. I'll talk to our sound guy and tell him I need some help.

    Gunnar, thank for the exercise, I'll try it.

    Wulf, Fortunatly we are doing old standards that most people could do in their sleep, excpt for one brand new song that the head pastor requested yesterday. He wants it done right before the message becuase it fits what he is talking about, and he is going to use the lyrics as part of his sermon. It's "ancient words", as done on the latest MW smith worship album.

    Machaut, I'm a little foggy on the term breath support as it applies to singing. I can tell you that when I try to support like I do when I play tuba, my tone gets worse and forced. Is there some way you can elaborate on that subject for me?

    Philbiker, thanks for the tips. Don't worry, my fretless isn't leaving the house all week! ;) In addition to playing simple bass lines, today I worked on singing harmony closer to the bass line instead of focusing totally on melody. There will be a lead soprano and an entire congregation to take the melody.

    Eric, I'm praying your right. I'm temped to turn my mike down ALL the way and just move my mouth enthusiastically.

    Thanks again for all the tips, please keep them coming!

    I'm temped to run in a small sound clip just you can see what I'm talking about. Maybe next week we can do a before and after compairison.
  12. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    I think you may be worrying too much. I get plenty of "desk recordings" sent to me because I often fill in for other bass players. I've never ever heard one that sounded any good. And I've often thought "whoa that's pretty bad singing" only to turn up at the gig and find that the singing not bad at all.

    Desk tapes tend to act like a microscope. A big part of it is the variation in volume. When you take something that was mixed to sound good at 100dB and listen to it at 50dB, it accentuates things that wouldn't normally be noticable.

    Your sound man has to mix it so it sounds good live. If he mixed it to make a killer recording, it wouldn't sound any good to the crowd. Remember that any decent live recording you've ever heard was done via a completely seperate mixing desk which is usually outside in a truck where the recording engineers a can't hear the live mix.

    Sing like you normally do. You'll be fine.
  13. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    OK, here's the update.

    I really appreciate all of the suggestions and tips, and things actually went very well today.

    After Wednesday night, I realized that the main problem is not the quality of the quality of my voice, but my range. I sing in a very deep bass voice, and don't have any real high range. If I dsing melody in a tenor range, my voice loses any quality it may have, and it sound goofy to sing melody in my natural range. Oh well, so I can't sing melody, I guess I can live with that.

    I worked really hard on singing a harmony that I could do while playing a bass line, and I had two singers show up for Sunday morning practice that weren't there on Wednesday. One male one female, but both good enough that I felt comfortable in letting them lead the melody while I took care of the details of the service.

    I turns out that despite all my work on the low harmonies, I was turned so low in the mix that I can hardly be heard on the tape, that's not a bad thing, but now I feel that even if I was turned up a little, It would have been fine.

    I had several compliments after the service on how much people enjoyed the music today, and went to lunch with both of our pastors and their families.

    Thank you to my TB family for helping me through a big moment in my life. I tell you, if 3 years ago you had told me I would be playing bass in a worship band and leading a church in music, I would have told you I was crazy! It's pretty incredible how much somebodies life can change in a short time.

  14. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Hey, Brad Roberts sings melody quite well with his deep baritone. Glad things went well!
  15. This is the perfect opportunity for me to enlist your help, guys. On my band's demo, the singing isn't good. The screaming/growling (metal band) is A class stuff, but the singing isn't. It varies from passable to absolutely terrible, sometimes within the same song. Can I ask you to listen to the second and third tracks on on demo, and tell me roughly what the problem is. I'm no vocal expert, but I just have a feeling our singer could get there if he did a few exercises every day. I personally think he has potential, but lacks good technique.

    The songs with singing in are Just An Ego and the first half of Source Of All Conspiracy. The site is http://www.ophidianmusic.tk

    Thanks in advance for any help,

  16. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    First off, I really hope you don't take offense to this reply, but remember you asked. Ok, the singers problem? Honestly sounds like he may be tone deaf to me. Just out of key, that's all there is to it. Maybe go to a pro tools studio with pitch shifting capabilities? We have often joked about singing a song in monotone, and putting the notes where we want them, just to see how it turns out lol.

    On a side note, your bass sounds to be tuned a bit flat, and the second note of the progression feels very unnatural.....but it's your original song.

    If I pissed you off, and you'd like to critique my bands work....feel free, I know there are a few things I don't like myself about it.

  17. Thanks for the reply on the singing. As for the bass thing, we were perfectly in tune to each other on the song, I just wanted that tension there for the resolution later on. I wrote it originally without the passing tones, and it sounded too happy and natural, so I added in a couple notes to make it grind along more. I assume you're talking about Just An Ego.