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Singing and Playing

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by paniak17, May 3, 2004.

  1. How can i get better at multitasking like this, I can sing and play stuff like the "Star Spangled Banner", but thats because my voice is matched with the sound, but when I play a Bass Line it ussually doesnt sound like what the people are hearing, so my question is how can I learn Sing and Play easily.
  2. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    I can barely sing and play anything other than roots, not that it matters because I am a bad singer, but practice helps.

    If you can play a line without thinking then you are half way there. For example, the other day I was talking to a friend in Washington on the phone and the entire time I was just noodling and talking simultaneously. I could do both subconsiously, but when I realized that I was doing it, I couldn't anymore. Knowing the line and the vocals exactly is the key.

    Hope that helps
  3. Very true abark, I struggle with this alllll the time! The only way i can do it is if i know the song inside and out and have played it a million times while trying to sing. I get messed up a lot more with rhythm than with the pitch though... especailly when the bassline is on a differant syncapation than the vocals. It's also a challenge for me since I'm singing harmony... 2 things that arent' the melody. All I can say is practice practice freaking practice alll the time.
    To go off what abark said too, it seems a lot easier if I'm not concentrating real hard on singing... cause as soon as I do, i lose my groove on the bass. Somethign that's helped me quite a bit is trying to sing while i play my acoustic... i woudlnt' have though it would transfer very well, and it actually doesn't but it's helped me ;)
    This is a little off topic, but when I get a mic stuck in front of me, it gets 10x harder to sing and play at the same time... maybe it's nerves, maybe i'm just micaphobic. who knows.
  4. haha
  5. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    There is a reason why a lot of musicans don't play and sing. You have to know the bassline like the back of your hand first off, I mean when you can have a conversation and play the tune then you got it (till it becomes subconcious) then you can try the vocals. Maybe just play roots at first then add the passing notes later. Start off with backups, shoot add backups that are not there for practicing.
  6. Time and Confidence.

    I just do backups as best I can. It's not easy.
  7. Edwcdc

    Edwcdc I call shotgun!

    Jul 21, 2003
    Columbia MD USA
    I sing lead on about 2 or 3 songs a set and backup on anything that needs it. I have been doing this for a long time so it is mostly not too hard for me. I always start out learning the bass line real well and just learning the vocal part by itself. This usually goes pretty smooth but every now and then I get that part that is so hard to sing and play. If I find myself cheating the bassline, I go back and work harder. For some reason, I have trouble with Sunday Bloody Sunday. I really have to concentrate to not cheat the bassline and play something easier. The vocal is not too hard and the bassline is easy but for somereason the two of them together make me have to think.
  8. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I think it's harder to sing and play bass than it is to sing and play guitar. For some reason basslines are usually just slightly off from the vocal line rhythmically, which can be quite a strain on the noggin. Try playing Message in a Bottle and sing at the same time. Easy bass line, easy melody. Put the two together: pain! Suffering! Agony!

    Try slowing it WAY down, and analyze the rhythms in relation to each other. Then slowly bring it up to speed. After alot of practice, it should come pretty naturally.

    My crowning achievement: playing a tapping bass line in 17/8 that I wrote and singing at the same time. Still can't play Message in a Bottle, though.
  9. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    I sing and play quite a bit so I think that I'm decent at it.

    One problem I have is that I glance down at my fretting hand too often - I feel that a good singer should look out at the audience as much as possible.

    And no matter how hard I try, it is difficult to play and sing on certain passages of some tunes (Gimme Three Steps has parts that are tough for me).

    I have found that simplifying the bass part at these times is a wise thing to do. I dislike doing that, of course, but I feel that it's better to sacrifice the bass line a bit so that your vocal quality is as good as possible.

    Bassists who can also sing well (while playing, that is) are worth a lot to a band.
  10. josh_m


    May 5, 2004
    Davie, Fl
    Everyone has stressed knowing the line well, which I agree with, but there is also a great deal of cooridination involved. I can play and talk or play and sing even parts that I don't know that well because I can have multiple thought processes.
  11. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    They only way to sing and play at the same time is to just do it until you get it right.

    Over and over again if required.

    Sometimes, learing the bass line first until it is second nature is a good method. Or the other way around, but ultimately, you just have to jump in there!

    It is kind of like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time.....
  12. BigRed


    Apr 1, 2004
    Palestine, TX
    It's tough. I can sign BGVs when I play, but when I sing lead, my bass lines get really square. I can either groove and not sing, or sing and play a really simple bass line. I'd rather not have to sing lead, but it's not an option sometimes.

    Just keep trying (sucking) until you get it right. That's what I keep telling myself... :bawl:
  13. I don't like the microphone in front of me either, a microphone on a stand that is. I've found, though, that a headset mic doesn't bother me. Mine has a mic boom that does not extend to the front of my face, but follows my cheek and stops short of my mouth.

    Also, I started simultaneously singing and playing a year after I started the bass. Those pieces that I learned on the bass before adding the vocal, are difficult to sing with. The pieces that I have learned since, playing and singing at the same time, are much easier. For me, knowing the bass line well first hasn't helped the vocals. I need to learn them together.
  14. something that makes it easier to sing and play:

    when i learn a new song, i always sing it while i'm learning to play it. even if i'm not going to be the singer or it's out of my range. that way, the muscle-memory (or whatever you'd call it) is established to always associate the two things together. it's more difficult to learn this way, but it helps immeasureably. plus you can fill in on vocals if needed.

    i found that any song that i learned this way, i rarely have a hard time singing. and songs that i learned to play first, then tried singing, it is always a little more difficult to do both.

    edit: uhh duh! i just read the previous post completely.;)
  15. RolandMHall

    RolandMHall Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    I do the same thing. Also for me, when I first learn a song, I don't even pick up a bass. I play "airbass!" Seriously, I try to learn how to attack the song from the beginning. I try to figure out where the changes are, verses, bridges, etc. That way, I'm concentrating more on the song's structure than actually playing it. As I do my "air thing" I start learning the backup vocals. The correct pitch, etc. When it's time to pick up the bass, I now have a complete understanding of the song's structure, i.e. how the song starts, how the song changes, etc. It's much easier to learn a song when you have a clear understanding of it's structure. Too many times, people want to play without first listening. Listen to the song first. Become familiar with all of it's elements. Get your MIND comfortable with the bassline. Once you can get to the point where you can "sing" the bassline, then it's time to start learning it. The same rule applies for the vocals. It's just as hard to play and sing without a bass as it is with one. Don't believe me, try it.
  16. I wouldn't be able to handle a headset mic. I like being able to pull back when I can hear that I'm off. The band I'm in now is the first band that's had a "lead singer" and 2 backup singers. The keyboardist is probably a better singer than our singer... It's great doing 3 part harmonies, I eff up all the time.

    Bass is a lot less forgiving when it comes to singing and playing at the same time. I always think of McCartney singing Til There Was You at the Royal Variety Performance.
  17. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003

    I need to get some harmonies together by next week when I meet with the band leader. The band does three part harmony. The email I received in response to all my questions was to put something together that "sounds good." I'm listening and listening to the material and its difficult to pick out from the multi-harmonies what would work best here.

    There are a lot of good ideas here on this thread about playing bass and singing that I will follow. I've done more lead singing than harmonies, so this is a stretch.

    Does anyone have any comments on what sounds good? What would sound good singing with one person in this situation? I find it easiest to sing a third up, and, being female, that might work with the other two guys rangewise when we all get together.