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Singing bassists

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by BMGecko, May 28, 2003.


  1. BMGecko

    BMGecko

    Sep 5, 2002
    Albuquerque, NM
    I want to get info from bass players that do vocals with their bands or their personal music. I have recently started playing more funk style lines and I noticed a strange thing happen... The other night I heard a Roy Orbison song I love (In Dreams) and I started singing along, harmonizing with it! I believe that my funk playing (which I'm getting happy with!) has opened my ears up somehow.
    But to the actual question...

    Are the bassist-vocalists out there generally singing lead or backup vocals, what kinds of music do you play, and how long has it taken to learn to sing as you play?
     
  2. MattyN

    MattyN

    May 26, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    i made the transition from guitar to bass about 2 years back and i've had a much harder time singing since (perhaps a blessing in disguise :rolleyes: ). however, i do manage to sing backups and lead on one tune.

    it really depends on the bassline. if the bassline is similar to the vocal part its much easier for me... and sometimes i'll really simplify what i'm doing on bass in order to sing.

    btw - in a recent rehearsal i tried to sing and play bass on Erykah Badu's "Tyrone"... fogetaboutit. :spit:
     
  3. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Well, there are leads and harmony vocals. Lots of bassists do harmony and get no credit for it, and it's not easy.

    But for lead vocals and playing bass at the same time I've never seen anyone more impressive than Mark King from Level 42 (remember them?) He used to do extremely syncopated lines and sing great leads on top.

    That's hard, folks.

    I find I can sing leads and play the DB or the EB, long as the song's not hairy rythmically (and people arent' running from the sound of my voice.) You've got lots of threads of brain activity going on: singing in tune, remembering lyrics, playing in tune, doing everything in time. Usually the lyric-remembering drops out if there are too many threads going on.

    A drummer friend of mine speaks of "untying knots" when dealing with the polyrythm thing. Ya just gotta practice, practice, practice: soon you can untie the knot.

    (Excuse the sudden inability to spell "riddim". I'm in a deadly dull training class and sneaking this post in. Better than sleeping....)
     
  4. There are a couple of jazz bassists, Jay Leonhardt and Jim Ferguson specifically, who sing "lead" vocals and scat while playing walking bass lines. Both are excellent bass players and pretty good vocalists, too, kinda in the Mose Allison mode.
     
  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    For some very odd and unexplainable reason, I have an easier time playing DB and singing than I do playing EBG and singing.

    It just seems more natural to me for some reason.

    Chas
     
  6. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Listen to Peter Cetera with the OLD Chicago. Those tracks were recorded basically live, due to the technology in those days. Peter played nice, contrapuntal rock and funk lines while singing his little counter-tenor butt off. And he did it live as well. I know how hard this is from my early lounge-band and wedding-band misadventures. Also, give a listen to Kristen Korb for a more modern straight-ahead jazz angle. BTW, I saw/heard Jay Leonhardt at ISB and he was amazing! Great bass playing, hilarious lyrics, good singing, and a super stage presence. Jay brought down the house, which was comprised of, as he put it, "the greatest captive audience in the world".
     
  7. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Yeah, Cetera's another one. Too bad he used his talent for evil instead of good....

    Bassists that have total independence for lead vocals and bass lines, well, they make me sick! It's a good thing the audience thinks they're guitar players....
     
  8. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Regarding JAZZ-LIMBS' comments above, I found it much easier to sing playing DB compared to EB, too. Something about it being acoustic and vibrating through the hands and body, I think.

    Still, if it's really syncopated, it's a bitch.
     
  9. Can't discuss singing bass players without mentioning Slam Stewart and Major Holley...
     
  10. i sing and play electric, but like most of the other people here said it's generally easy to play and sing if the bass line either follows the vocals, or is in a pattern similar to the rythmn of the vocals, i play a lot of punk, ska, and emo, i can sing punk and emo and play because the bass lines are generally simple and rythmically similar to the vocal line, ska is different, most of the bass lines are like those found in reggae, they're very hard to play and sing the vocal line which comes on the off beat
     
  11. Slam Stewart would play arco and sing an octave higher than the bass notes, as he was a tenor. Major Holley, who was a bass singer, played arco solo's and did vocal scatting in unison with the bass notes. Jay Leonhart has developed the unique approach of playing bass solo's either in arco or pizzicato, while vocally scatting exactly a major tenth interval from the bass notes. He said this was a very difficult mind set to do in the beginning, but he mastered it and it sounds really natural, cool, hip, and interesting.
     
  12. Tom Araya - Slayer. His singing is really not easy