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Playing and singing?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by 0scar, Mar 25, 2005.

  1. 0scar


    Jul 11, 2003
    Hey everyone, I want to learn how to sing and play at the same time. I'd say I'm very advanced at bass, but I've never really attempted to sing, well at least like a "singer" of the band, you know. I've tried playing something while singing, but it just seems really hard and I mess up my playing or my singing. Am I doomed, or do I just need a lot more practice? Anyone else been in this situation and can now do both things simultaniously?
  2. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    i can't even listen to someone talking to me let alone try to sing when i am playing. must a male thing, you know ... i can only focus on one thing at a time ;)
  3. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    If you were very advanced at bass, you wouldn't need our advice at anything. ;)

    Uhm, it's a matter of learning each part seperate very very well until you can do them both thoughtlessly, then combining. A drum beat/metronome helps a lot.
  4. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    There must be at least a thousand threads about this. Please do a search. :)
  5. Wolf


    Jan 30, 2004
    I'm strugling with this too. Singing over straight-eighth rock'n'roll "chugga-chugga" lines is a piece of cake, but when things start happening rythmically, I mess up.

    I found that the best way (for me) to approach singing over syncopated bass lines is to write things down. That way I can see how the two parts fit together, and narrow it down to those specific syncopations which are giving me trouble.
    Then I can repeat them - slowly - while keeping taps on the subdivisions. Eventually I broaden the subdivisions, and up the tempo.

    Same method applies to tapping, and any other form of multi-part playing. Good luck!
  6. At the cost of pointing out the most commen answer, practice both a lot, or simplify what your playing, anouther thing I've noticed, I tend to sing and play beter in a band enviorment where my ears can latch onto the guitars or keys so I can just play the parts on bass without it interfering with my singing. I have the advantage/disadvantage of singing baritone/bass. Its usefull for harmony's but with me I sometimes try to sing my bass line rather then the melody I wrote for the vocals.

    Another thing that is incredibly importent for singers, having big ears. I cannot stress enough how importent it is to know when your singing off key. In my former band in CT, I was the only competent singer they had, but they didnt want a deep voiced singer..... 2 singers we went through that I all hated their vocals, but they were desperated for one... I can hear when I am offkey and adjust to the sound..... At least they found a singer who has a very good tenor voice now. I'm busy with my own band in OH.

    Sorry for the rant... Its just one of the things that frustrated me in that band...
  7. xshawnxearthx


    Aug 23, 2004
    new jersey
    over the years i have gotten better and better at this. mainly because my singer likes to challenge me with back up parts that do not go with the music. at first, all the back up changes went with the line iw as playing. now, with out new stuff, most of it goes against it. plus, i am singing a lot more back ups, so it gets easier with time. i wouldnt say im an advanced player, but for everyone it takes time.
  8. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    I can do anything while playing bass. I can chat, sing (not well), dance, play kazoo, chat on a cell phone. The only thing I can't do is tie my shoes. It just takes practice. The key is being confortable with the instrument. Now you claim to be "Very advanced". That may or may not be the case, you can always be advanced but still never really be comfortable with the bass. You just have to keep your bass playing in the back of your mind so you're not focusing too much on it. Then allow your mind to flow freely. The first step to singing is talking. If you are confortable talking, then work on signing along with your basslines (with no words), then work on indipendent pitch, and then put words to it. It's all about comfort.
  9. I find that it is much harder to sing while playing bass then guitar. For whatever reason. Rhythm guitar especially is leaps and bounds easier. That was probably totally random, but i am just saying that i think it is alot harder to play/sing bass then guitar.
  10. some people just cant do it. bb king never could sing and play at the same time. i sing in my band though, and i find that you just have to work on each part seperately and then put them together. its like learning a hard part on a tapping solo, you learn the left hand then the right hand, then put them together. just dont get frustrated and quit. its worth it when you get it right
  11. basste


    Oct 8, 2003
    i learn very well the bass part. Then very well the song. And i play with focusin' on the song, playing the bass line without thinking of it. :)
  12. dejavoodoo


    Mar 29, 2005
    New Mexico
    You don't see that many bassist lead vocals do you? I do the lead vocals in our band, but I couldn't always sing and play...I guess it either comes or it doesn't, but if you want to do it you have to practice it. Try playing a simpler part and then changing it when you 'get it'. Maybe start with a tune with a simple rhythm. Work at it!
  13. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    To sing and play well at the same time requires lots of practice.

    The most important advice I can give you is that, if a particular section is difficult, simplify the bass line as needed so that you can sing your absolute best at all times.
  14. Justin V

    Justin V

    Dec 27, 2000
    Alameda, CA
    My band I believe has pretty much decided to bring in a buddy of ours to play bass at least in live situations while I take lead vocals and maybe rythm guitar now and then. What I find is that I do MUCH better at one when I'm NOT doing the other. Wehn recording it's not really a problem, but in a live situation, it gets somewhat dicey. I've found that playing simpler parts while singing makes it easier.

    Has anyone else noticed that at least on older Rush albums, Geddy's parts get a lot simpler when he has to sing and get more complicated almost as soon as he drops out?
  15. Winemule

    Winemule Guest

    Feb 27, 2005
    For strategies regarding bass playing and singing, check out Sting, especially the first three Police albums. He is very clever at phrasing between bass lines. The other guy, much as it pains me to say it, who is very good at singing and playing, is Sir Paul McCartney. I don't care for his music, but the man can sing and lay down a line at the same time.
  16. jetforcex


    Sep 23, 2003
    Also check out John Wetton (preferably 72-74 King Crimson). So talented.

    Try singing along with your bass playing. NOT singing words, but singing the notes as you play them. Then, very simple like, occasionally deviate the note you're singing from the note you're playing, all while maintaining the same, parallel rhythm of playing and singing. Keep practicing further and further deviations of the notes you're singing from the notes you're playing. Once that becomes workable, start mixing up the rhythms of your singing against your playing. Incidentally this is going to give you some amazing ear training with respect to relative pitch. Eventually you'll be able to put words into your singing in place of the bare notes. Tada.
  17. beaumcrunner


    Dec 24, 2004
    ROGER WATERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  18. All_¥our_Bass


    Dec 26, 2004
    My hat's off to him, one of my idols
  19. MMFender


    Sep 26, 2003
    I got the same exact problem.
    i am mainly a singer but i can also play flashy bass riffs (slapping - two hand popping - tapping )
    I mostly have to play a simple groove in order to sing at the same time.
    But i want to be able to play complicated stuff why singing.
    i wonder how Mark King does this ?
    Are there different ways to practice this ?
  20. I've been following this thread with interest because I was just recently (last 2 years) able to combine playing bass and singing. I have been able to play rhythm guitar and sing for a long time, but bass seemed much harder.

    I'm convinced that the reason it was so difficult to do the two together is that many of us listen to the bass line as we are playing it. Of course, you need to listen while you are learning or improving the bass line, but once you have it down, bass playing is mostly a mechanical process, with your ears telling you only when something is wrong (wrong note, out of tune, etc).

    Singing, on the other hand, *requires* you to listen to every note in your voice as you are singing it. There is very little mechanical reference to the note you are singing. Remember Ashlee Simpson at the Rose Bowl? She obviously couldn't hear herself, so sang horribly out of tune.

    So, what you need to do is reduce the amount of 'ear' that is paying attention to the bassline and let your fingers do the walking. Of course, as you are singing, you still listen to how the bass blends with your voice, and how both blend with the rest of the band.

    So to me, it's a matter of letting your fingers play the bass and paying most of your aural attention to your voice.