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singing+bass playing = impossible

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by clammit l82, May 31, 2001.

  1. for all those singing bassists out there...i gotta ask u, is there any key to being able to sing and play at the same time. i find it absolutly impossible. at first i thought if i just practiced a song enough it would come so naturaly that i wouldn't have to even think about what i was playing, so i could sing at the same time. that didnt work. i cant even keep a steady beat playing one note and sing at the same time. how the hell do u do it!!
  2. i can sing and play at the same time. depends what i'm playing. if its punk, yeah i can sing and play. anything else, depends how much moving around i have to think about what i'm doing. i cannot pull off claypool stuff while singing, which he manages to do some how.
  3. it's all practice, it really is. the first time i tried it, like with "chick magnet" i couldn't do it, and i thought "i bet this is one of those things that you're born with." but i kept at it and bingo, now i can do it.

    same thing with "heart and soul." i don't play piano, i just mess around a bit, and that song kicked my ass until i practiced enough. what i did was simplify the bass rhythm, just playing half notes, while concentrating on the melody. eventually i added all the bass in. try that.
  4. Monkey


    Mar 8, 2000
    Ohio, USA
    It took me a long time to sing and play, but all of a sudden it just clicked. I still have to practice difficult parts, but I find I can sing and play fairly easy bass parts even without practicing much. I found that playing and singing were almost like learning to drive a stick shift. At first, I could only concentrate on steering or shifting, but not both, but then something clicks and you can split your attention somewhat between the two.

    I am rather proud of the fact that I play and sing reggae: I don't know of many reggae bassists who sing. Reggae bass parts are not technically difficult, but they are usually totally different than the vocal line. Reggae bass is also the main melody, and it is the loudest instrument in the band, so it must be solid. I have to practice playing and singing reggae, though.

    Keep working at it, and don't worry; the "click" is coming!
  5. I sing lead an a few songs and backup on almost all the other songs. If it is a no brainer bass line or a fast song I have no problem singing lead. For some reason I have no problem singing harmony on any song no matter what the bass line is doing. Been playing 32 years and I have not figured out why the harmony comes easier to me than the lead. Best to leave well enough aloneI guess. I think singing and playing bass at the same time is sorta like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time.
  6. anon5458975


    Apr 5, 2001
    It sure seems impossible for me, I've never been able to pull it off. What really blows my mind are those people who can be jamming out on a song while holding a conversation with someone on the side. I always botch whatever I'm playing when I try to do that.

    I'm really not much of a vocalist anyway so it's probably better that I can't do both. :)
  7. The best guitarist I've ever seen in my life plays in a local band here in Edmonton and I go and watch them play often. He just got a wireless system so he'll walk all around the bar while he's playing, go order a drink and have a conversation with someone all without ever missing a note, and this is HARD guitar too, full of artificial harmonics and arpeggios and ****. I don't even play guitar but I'm in awe of this guy, he's doesn't think he's the best guitar player in the world but I've heard him say "Could Hendrix do THIS?" a couple times.
  8. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    I found it extremely difficult to do both at the same time. I can (and do) sing backups, if it isn't too hard to sing, play and control my stomp effects at the same time. Sometimes though, I feel like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.
  9. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    I am covering back ups and probably some leads coming up in my current group. Some of the back ups are harder than the leads (Back in Love Again). Some of the stuff that seems hard is easy (Lyin-ass Bitch).

    It depends on how different the rythmn is between the Bass and Vocals. The notes don't make much of a difference unless the vocals are hard.
  10. 5156246


    Sep 6, 2000
    I sang and played the bass simultaneously but only during easy bass lines.

    It is really really difficult to sing a melody which differs quite much to a rhythmically sophisticticated bass line.
    You will be able to play and sing them at the same time sometime, but that is hard work and a lot of practice.

    I for myself would never be able e.g. to sing and play bass at the same time like Mark King could do.

    But on the other hand I think that guys who play bass only can concentrade quite much better on their melody than others.
  11. Acacia


    Apr 26, 2000
    Austin, TX
    in my drumming years, i could sing and play with no effort, even while slinging the double bass drums.

    then i started playing bass a year ago. singing just didn't work because i was concentrating so hard on the bass. now that i am more comfortable on the bass, i have been able to sing (in key ;)) and play at the same time.
  12. In most kinds of music where you play fingerstyle and your bass sounds solid, (obviously not punk), your bass is like your voice, cause most of the time you only play one key at a time, just like singing, so can´t concentrate on producing a different melody out of your vocals..

    a tip I use some times, is to jam on the bass, playing anything and sing the same melody as the bass at the same time.. first, just marking the time with just a few notes.. later, you start puttin in some more dinamic stuff ...after a while, you just start singing along with the bass as if they were both one single instrument.. u hu...

    I ´ve played bass for three years only (but non-stop) and sang for the last 2.. I can say that playing a bass firmly and singing correctly at the same time is possible as long as you don´t put in too many left hand stuff... many movements and that...
  13. bumpcity


    May 12, 2001
    but, there is no substitute for hard work. Practice, practice, practice. If your band sticks around for a while you will be able to keep doing it, week after week. Don't be afraid or embarassed. Im proud of the fact that I can now sing (albeit not so well) backup on some of my bands tunes. Last week I got my first fretless, and I went for it on a tune that I sing some important parts on. Life's too short not to just go for it. I do it because I love music, and I don't want to ever think "man I could have done" whatever thing it is down the road. And I am SURE I was either out of tune on the bass or in my singing, or more likely, BOTH, but its no great loss.

    At first, I was embarrased that I was going to sound bad, but even the greats don't always pull it off...sometimes I wonder about all the great "live" albums, and wonder how much of it has been fixed in the studio after the fact. I know a lot of bands have done this. I am sometimes astounded by some of the live Rush albums and wonder about it, but I HAVE seen them live, and Geddy nailed it every time I saw him... The great drummers do the same amazing coordination act with their limbs, as do the piano greats, and the organ guys like Jimmy Smith, Chester Thompson who play the bass line with their FEET while they do it. There's only one way out, that's to go through...so keep it up!

    My method is this: I found it helped when I would first try to hear the vocal part in my head when I played a tune, and then gradually start singing it, away from the mic at first, and then when I felt comfortable enough, just moving toward the mic. Maybe this will work for you too. But it took me a long time before I could make the plunge, so don't get discouraged. Eventually, you will find that you can even play more intricate bass lines while you sing...not Donna Lee or anything...but I am sure even that could happen if you practiced enough. What you get out is in direct proportion to what you put in.

    My ultimate goal would be to be able to sing what I am playing when I solo a la` Oteil Burbridge (He got it from other people before him, George Benson, etc., but he's the first bass player I have ever seen doing that). But I have a lot of scales to memorize before I get to THAT stage. To me that is the mark of really being able to play what you hear in your head. And I think that only comes when you do it, every night in front of people, Oteil says he doesn't practice apart from playing with his various bands, but I don't have the great fortune of having so many gigs as that...but I digress. Hope the little method I used helps you too.
  14. I'm in a band right now that is going through some internal turmoil, and the end result is I might have to take over on the lead vocals. I've sang lead before in a couple other bands I've been in and found that most of the road blocks were psychological and put there by myself. If a piano player can play independently with his left and right hands, it seems to me that a bassist should be able to sing a melody that is independent and often syncopates against the bass line without and problem. It's all about practice, but anyone who says they can't sing and play at the same time are really creating the biggest hurdle for themselves.;)
  15. semo77

    semo77 Guest

    Jun 1, 2001
    St. Louis
    It sounds funny but learn an Alice in Chains Song,,,the Harmony parts then the bass part,,,slowly put them together,,,it made my vocals better,,,I mostly sing backup,but I have a vocalizer that adds harmony to what I am singing,,,i.e. Michael Anthony of Van Halen,,,it sounds like there are 3 or 4 people singing backup bu he is the only one.
  16. Gia


    Feb 28, 2001
    Even if I could sing while playing I wouldnt.
    Ever heard a cat being strangled underwater ?
    That's me.
  17. Mark Gollihur

    Mark Gollihur Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 19, 2000
    Mullica Hill, NJ
    Owner/President, Gollihur Music LLC
    It just takes practice.

    I know this sounds like bragging (well, in a way, it sort of is) but in my previous band I had a couple of tunes where I was singing, hammering on bass with my left hand, and playing chords or melody lines on a keyboard with my right hand.

    It took a LOT of practice, especially the song in 11/4 with the contrapuntal bass/keyboard lines. :eek:


    The songs were "Open Book" and "A Little More Love" - and no cracks about the music being "dated" - this stuff was from like 7 years ago. :)
  18. Ya know guys & gals, i've been playing bass and singing for many years, and i don't think just saying "practice" is the answer for everyone. For some people, playing bass(or maybe even any instrument) IS impossible. I think bass is one of the harder instruments to sing and play at the same time with. Some people just never get it. I do think you should practice alot before just giving up on it however. If you really do want to it, you'll find a way.
    The gig i have now is a challenge because i usually sing at least one song new song to me every week. Plus the other few i do i might have done once or twice a few months ago. Totally different show each week. It takes me a few times thru to get 'comfortable" with a song vocally, or playing wise for that reason. I try to not let the playing slip when singing, but it does maybe go on autopilot just a little bit naturally. I'm not a great singer, but i am a strong entertainer with a good delivery and timing. I try hard to make playing and singing look easy even when it isn't. I don't find it any easier of harder to sing harmony or lead when playing. I'm not a good natural harmony singer, have to practice my part quite a bit. It surprised me what songs are hard to sing a play with. Sometimes a song with an easy bassline really kicks my butt singing with it the first few times i do it. I guess it's the cadence of the song or something. My ex-girlfriend used to say when i practiced at home "how do you do that and sing at the same time" on some of the busier bass songs i sang on. I told her "very carefully dear". lol Trent
  19. Justin V

    Justin V

    Dec 27, 2000
    Alameda, CA
    I've been singing and playing ever since I got my bass (about 8 months ago). The trick...pick easy songs. Most MGB and Nirvana songs are beyond easy enough. Burton era Metallica though, that's another story.
  20. can anyone here sing the vocal and play the odd-time signature bassline to Sting's "love is stronger than justice"?

    I do backing vocals, and sometimes lead vocals (the most difficult one so far being House of Pain's "Jump Around"- I might have to do Crazytown's "Butterfly" as well- (tricky with Flea's bassline), due to 2 different singers, one of which can't do the rap stuff....)

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