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Playing and singing back-ups..help??

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by SacOnBass, Feb 11, 2005.

  1. Well, I have the bass part and vocal part down seperately but as soon as I try and put them together I start messing up. Im brand new to this sooo I dont know if its an experience thing or what. It's usually the bass parts where I mess up when the two come together. I think due to the fact that I so worried about the back-up vocal part.

    Im would realy like to hear some of your suggestions on solving this issue. Practice techniques, mental preperation etc......Thanks again Guys

  2. Just plugging away at it helps. After that, I'd take a look at the trouble spots, the places you always mess up. Chances are, you're a little unsure on either the bass rhythm or the vocal rhythm there, and you need to see exactly how they fit together. Slow down when you're trying to get the pattern. Then just do it a little more. When you mess up, don't stop, keep counting and recover as soon as possible.
  3. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Yep, it is. At least that's been my experience. :)

    Some people are gifted enough to be able to do that kind of thing "on the fly", but for most people it takes a bit of work.

    I look at it kind of like drumming, where all your limbs can be doing way different things, all at the same time. Me, I can't drum worth beans. And it turns out, I'm a left handed drummer anyway (go figure, with everything else I'm left-brained). :D

    It just takes practice. There's usually a "groove" there, to be found. And, some "coordination of the limbs" is needed.

    You're right, I usually end up concentrating on the vocals too, especially when I'm first learning a song. But eventually the two parts will merge into a coherent whole.

    It can be a really exciting experience when that first happens. :)

    Hang in there, and the best of luck and success with your endeavors. :):):)
  4. I know your problem 'cause I've been trying it myself. I'm new to bass as well. But I think it has somehing to do with how coplicated the bassline is. I found out that I could sing the choruses and the verses of Otherside by Red Hot, but when it came to the c-part, I could concentrate on both. And it's something about the rythm as well, like nonsqtr said, a bit like drums...
  5. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Playing and singing is hard, that's why bands always get mad at me for not doing it. Singing just isn't fun for me.Time and practice I believe are the only solutions.
  6. jvbjr


    Jan 8, 2005
    Start very simple, even if it requires you singing nursery rhymes and singing the same note you are playing.

    Any Police song has an easy bass part.

    Row row row your boat, gently down the stream....
  7. bUCKET__


    Feb 12, 2005
    I have a bit of trouble doing this too, I find I can't hold a note singing while I'm playing bass, instead my voice just changes... but who wants to sing when you could play bass instead? :p
  8. I've been singing and playing for quite a while, and what I found early on was that I could play some quite complex stuff on a guitar, but when it came to bass it was a different story.
    What I beleive was the cause of this was because I was usually playing with a pick on guitar and fingerstyle on bass.

    However, that may or may not be useful, so on with the practice techniques...

    If you have to begin just singing a note from the chords your playing bass over. You can hold one note for the whole chord or try for some scales and appegios. Practice harmonies, even if that's only harmonising with what you're playing on bass. Then you should practice singing what the singer sings the whole song through, with and without your bass. This means you'll know it all back to front. You shouldn't have to go into fills or different sections thinking about it, it should be really comfortable.

    Once you're comfortable it will become easy... Then you can keep working on it till odd time grooves and impro scatting is comfortable. There's no end to what you can do when you just get used to it... I heard van halen used to practice 'eruption' while he was watching the tv, not even really thinking about what he was playing... he just got comfortable with it. :bassist: keep perservering, it's very worth it.
  9. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004
    I have had alot of trouble with playing and singing. For me, the pitch is not as difficult as the syncopation between vocals and the bassline. The is not as much of an issue in less syncopated songs, but for R&B dance covers, it takes some work.

    My time-consuming method for working out these parts is as follows:

    1) Memorize the bassline
    2) Memorize the vocals
    3) Write out the rhythm of the vocal and bass parts, with the vocal part stacked directly above the bassline. It is important to make sure that you are lining up the parts evenly so that a vocal entrance on the "and" of 2 comes directly between the bass notes on 2 and 3.
    4) Tap out the 2 parts together on your knees (LH: bass, RH: vocals)
    5) Practice playing and singing the parts together slowly.
    6) Continue practicing until both parts can be performed at speed.

    After doing all of this, I can sing the part while playing the bassline without dragging or rushing, but it still sounds stiff. Most lead vocal parts and many background parts lay back against the beat. IME it takes a long time before the vocals sound fluid, which is one reason why I don't sing lead on many songs (aside from my "sound of wind blowing across a hollow log" voice).
  10. This might not help, but I've found that the easiest way for me to hit the backup vocals is to "quit thinking". It helps if you know the bass part, and especially if it's an easy bass line where you pretty much stay on the root notes. Then when my singing part comes up I just sort of quit thinking about what my hands are doing and just stare off and sing. I know it sounds funny, but it works.
  11. jedwards


    Feb 1, 2005
    I used to have the same problem - finally figured out the problem was my breathing. Make sure when you are singing to breathe correctly - for backups you can even come off weak and no one will notice. I was straining too much when singing. I found it much easier to focus on learning the vocal to the point I did'nt need to think about when to breathe at all - then adding the bass part was simple. Utilizing this method, I was able to sing lead (vocal stylist, not a real singer) in a few bands while playing even complex bass parts, unfortunately I could never remember the words.... Still have'nt figured that part out. Luckily for anyone who may ever hear me by chance, I no longer sing...
  12. Commreman

    Commreman Faith, Family, Fitness, and Frets Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    New Jersey
    I do all the high harmony in my bands, and even some of the leads. It takes time and practice. I practice my harmony parts and breathing techniques when I'm stuck in traffic, believe it or not. IN a live band situation, just use your ears - listen and adjust on the fly. Close your eyes when executing both parts. You'll be suprised how quickly it will come together, and how much better it will sound. Do your best to internalize your parts. Practice both on your own until it is second nature. Bassists who can sing are in high demand, so keep at it and stick with it.
  13. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    Learn the lyrics inside and out. Learn the song inside and out. Play the song while humming it. Then put it all together.
  14. E.O.M.


    Dec 7, 2001
    Grand Rapids, MI
    I play bass and also sing lead occasionally. I've found that what helps me to do this is to look at it from the song's perspective, instead of the bass part and the vocals part. Visualizing the big picture somehow makes it much easier for me.
  15. jayzarecki


    Feb 23, 2005
    san diego, CA
    LOL, ok try and sing message ina bottle-for soem reason that one is a pain in the ass, and brown eyed girl