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Singing and playing bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by IAMERICCOCHRANE, Jan 27, 2003.

  1. I want to learn how to sing and play at the same time but i dont know where to start. Are there any exercises I can learn to help get me to my goal. And I heard that its harder to play bass and sing than it is on Guitar. Is this true?
  2. bass_man86


    Apr 29, 2002
    Virginia Beach
    Yes, it is more difficult to sing and play bass than to sing and play guitar, reason being that you are doing both the treble clef the bass clef at the same time like when you are playing a piano. The most difficult thing about learning to play a piano is coordinating the left and right hand because they are doing two totally different things.

    If you look at most singing bass players, Sting being a prime example, they will keep their bass lines simple while they are singing. I suggest doing the same thing at least at first. With regular practice you will be able to make your lines more ambitious, until then, simplify!
  3. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks! In Memoriam

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH
  4. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Yeah that a tough thing to do....especially to keep your control of your voice....what I do is I learn the song's bass parts like the back of my hand(or however I'll be performing them) then I learn the lyrics 100% to the point where I can play any riff and know what lyric goes a long with it...then with some stumbling I put 2 and 2 together...I've been doing it for 3 years now, so I'm getting better, but I've still got a long way to go.
  5. I just learned to do it also (started about a month ago). I figured out to do as Robot says. Basically there are no shortcuts, just alot of practice. Start with simple songs, and build up (learn both parts seperately and well). The last one I learned was rearranged by limp biskit, it's really fun now.
  6. Ahh, hard work. I think ill leave the singing to the singer or guitarist (drummer perhaps?).
  7. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Yeah...all bassists are fundamental slackers :D
  8. Slackers? Not so! I plan to take over the lead vocals position in the future (and after,.... the WORLD!- nah, the world's too messed up, I don't want it)
  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I think what the 1st response here didnt quite get agross is that the rhythm of the bass very rarely flows with the vocal melody, especially if you're doing backing vocals.

    where as strumming guitar and singing tends to go hand in hand - the vocal melody of a song is often written around the guitar or piano part, so is more natural.

    i decided to learn b/vs forone of me bands recently. i went to the singers house and tried out.. my voice could reach the notes, but i have a very limited range and.. more importantly... my basslines tend to be fairly involved... not neccessarily complex, but involved and i refuse to compromise on basslines for the sake of b/vs!

    in the end i tried at home for a few weeks, then gave up. my voice is pretty crap anyway, and i just didnt have the urge to really do it... i'm not a front man, i'm a bassist and i like it here :)
  10. greywolf

    greywolf Guest

    Dec 20, 2002
    Wichita, KS, US
    Just like Howard said, I was really amazed after singing and playing guitar for years. It was just natural to accompany singing with the guitar. Then I picked up bass, and couldn't sing. the rythm of the bass line is often at odds with the vocal, which frequently comes in off the beat that you're emphasizing with the bass.

    Finally getting back to where I can sing a simple part over a simple bass line, but it's a totally different feeling. Or I get my hands into the groove, then sing with my mind detached from my hands. Eventually that will work for stronger bass lines too. Just gotta work at it (there's that 4-letter word again) ;-)
  11. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Yep it's harder to sing and play bass than guitar. But if you stick at it, it'll start to feel more natural. I've got it down-pat now.

    To start with, try singing songs where you know the bass line so well you can play it with our eyes closed and without thinking about it.
  12. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    What Im doing now that Im starting to do back up is just learn the songs well.

    I play the bass parts without even thinking baout them, and just focus on the singing. My bass parts arent hard but they arent just roots either.

    Here's an example of a song that I do alot of back for. Check out how the bass, guitars, drums, and vocals all lock in on each other in a way that makes losing eachother hard.


    I find that by making the bassline really lock in with the rest of the song and by minimizzing syncopation and other rhythmic difficulties, I can make it easier on myself.

    Really I think the best thing you can do is just not think about what you play, and focus on the vocals. Of course be sure you learn the song good enough that the bass practically plays itself first.

  13. It depends what your playing, crappying punk stuff like blink is easy cos most of the time when he's singing (term used loosely) he's hitting straight 8th root notes.

    You could try the les claypool approach; play as fast as you can and sing quicker. eg tommy the cat.

    The one who amazes me is mark king. sweet lines yet melodic singing wich is completely different to the bass line rythmically. but he use to sing as a drummer so what can u expect.
  14. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    :eek: forgive him Lord he knows not what he says!!!!

    You are right of course... but just couldn't bring myself to simplify my bass parts once I'm happy with them. I'm not Mr Mega-Complex bass-dude, not at all, but you know, once you ge "the right line", you've got the right line!
  15. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Yeah, Mark King rules. He has a good voice too, and impeccable timing/clarity with his basslines...sometimes his lines are so perfect and clear that it sounds like it was artificially created with a computer quantizer.
  16. Mud Flaps

    Mud Flaps

    Feb 3, 2003
    Norton, MA
    First of all, just like anything else, if you practice singing and playing at the same time, you will eventually become good at it. Some bassists are natural vocalists/bassists. These are people who learned to play bass while not looking at the fretboard.

    My second point: What about Les

    His bass lines are harder more complicated than almost all bass lines in music (save Jaco, Victor, PNUT, etc.), and HE SINGS. Note: You are not Les Claypool. But still this should provide inspiration.

    Bassists can be equally as good vocalists as guitarists. True, bassists play in both clefs and have an instrument that utilizes more arm movement, but mostly...

    Bassists don't sing because stereotypes say they can't! Defy this!
  17. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay

    If I found the right bassline and it makes singing impossible, screw singing!

  18. Jack Bruce
    Geddy Lee
    Paul McCartney
    Felix Papalardi
    Will Lee
    Nathan East
    A couple of hairband guys (Winger, I think)
    Tom Araya
    Willie Dixon
    Michael Anthony
    John Lodge
    Greg Lake
    and as you said... Les Claypool
    And Many others

    It's harder to sing and play bass than any other standard rock instrument, that's why fewer people do it. Your statement would be more true about drummers, and there are some notable exceptions there as well. And the exceptions eventually step out in front of the band.
  19. I saw a clip from a video where Geddy Lee was playing bass with his left hand, playing keyboard with his right, and singing at the same time. It was amazingly humbling and inspiring at the same time.
  20. FuturePrimitive

    FuturePrimitive Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2000
    Rochester, NY
    That's it? Must not have been able to see his feet. He was probably hitting bass pedals too! :eek: :eek:

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