Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Singing Notes

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by jackmurray, Dec 2, 2005.


  1. When I've been trying to work out songs lately, I've been singing the notes as well as finding them on my bass.

    Also, of lately, my ear has become much better. Could the singing be helping this or is it just co-incidence?
     
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Wow, I raised you right, Jack! Yes, singing is a huge help. if you can sing it, you can play it.
     
  3. Then it looks like I'm on my way to fame and fortune! I'll put in a good word for you when I'm at the top, Jimmy. Don't worry, I won't forget my roots.... or my 5ths. Oh man! Why am I playing bass when I could be a stand-up comedian?
     
  4. AGCurry

    AGCurry

    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    Yes, this will help your ear a great deal.

    Ever heard Slam Stewart? He was an upright bassist in a duo called "Slim [Gailliard] and Slam". He would sing along with all his [bowed] soloes. Great stuff.
     
  5. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    UK
    tis not a coincidence...

    I always recommend this... it's the best way of firming up the connection between the notes you hear in your head and the ones your fingers choose... essential for the journey from finger-wiggler to musician :)
     
  6. My problem is that I'm a crap singer, and I'm getting better at pitching, but I'm often singing out of key. Will this get better with practice or am I doomed to be laughed at when I attempt to do backing-vocals?
     
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    It gets better with practice. People used to tell me I was a crap singer when I started. And now I sing at least 1/3 of the time in every band I'm in.

    But you have to analyze your singing to improve it. Record yourself and pinpoint where you're going off pitch, how much you're going off-pitch, and what you need to do to get on pitch. I still struggle with pitch in my singing, and I have perfect pitch. It's a weird thing going on in my head where I think what's coming out sounds good in my head but doesn't sound good once it hits the mic, so I had to re-learn how to listen to what's coming out of my head. It ain't easy if you're not a natural singer, but it can be learned.
     
  8. AGCurry

    AGCurry

    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    Well, for heaven's sake, don't sing on mic!

    Really, for the sake of playing alone, it doesn't matter whether you're singing on pitch or not - it only matters that the pitch in your head matches the one you're playing on the bass.
     
  9. Right, that all makes sense. There's a gilr I know who has perfect pitch, but she can't sing perfectly in key. I never understood that before now.

    I want to eventually work on my singing, but my goal at first is just to get perfect pitch. That would be so awsome. I'm going to go and sing now...

    Here's the exercise I'm doing. I'll play a note, lets say an Open A, and then I'll try and sing the D. Then I'll check it up on the bass. Will this help my relative picth or am I wasting my time? I'm finding this pretty easy, is there anything harder I could do?
     
  10. ladros2

    ladros2

    Jun 2, 2005
    Ireland

    Your goal at first is just to get perfect pitch? That's hardly a short term goal, or an easy one. You'll be hard pressed to get that in any small amount of years.
     
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    It will definitely help your relative pitch. You may want to start mixing up notes, though, like play an A and try to sing an F# or a G. Or play an F# and sing a C. But start off easy and use simple intervals at first, like A/C#, C/G, you know, 3rds and 5ths.

    Unfortunately, if you weren't born with perfect pitch, you won't be able to have it, but you can develop your relative pitch to a point where it's just as good as perfect pitch with practice.
     
  12. Aren't all people born with perfect pitch so that they can identify their mothers voice or soemthing, but then it goes away?

    Damn, I want perfect pitch. Is there maybe a way that you could have one pitch in your head (maybe you could find the lowest note you could sing) and then you could work out everything relative to that?
     
  13. I don't know about that... I don't have perfect pitch, but I can identify my mother's voice.
     
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Absolutely! That's called relative pitch, and in the real world, it's every bit as useful as perfect pitch. Perfect pitch really isn't that big a deal.

    Don't know about this mother's voice stuff, but the accepted version of perfect pitch is to be able to tell the pitch of a note without having to hear a reference pitch. Like if you hit an A on the piano, I can instantly tell it's an A without having to locate it on the piano. it might save me about 3 seconds searching. Once you develop your relative pitch and learn all your intervals, it accomplishes pretty much the same thing.
     
  15. ladros2

    ladros2

    Jun 2, 2005
    Ireland
    Anyone can learn perfect pitch, it just takes longer the later you leave it. Those who are "born" with it were just nurtured as a child. Maybe they started young or just had a musical family.
     
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    John Entwhistle had perfect pitch but said that it was a "curse" as he could hear when (inevitably) the guitars went slightly out of tune at a gig and it really bugged him , but he just had to carry on!! ;)
     
  17. Ok, maybe I made the mothers voice thing up. I thought I read it somewhere; but then again, I can't read, so it seems unlikely.

    It would be a curse I think. Yngwie Malsteem has really perfect pitch and always complains when other guitarists (Satch, mainly) bend out-of-tune.

    Relative pitch would be fine, I just want perfect pitch as a cool party trick. My mates girlfreind has it, and he always plays a note and gets her to guess it, but I guess after you hear the first note, it's all relative after that.

    What's having perfect pitch like? Whenever you listen does it register on your mind that the note playing is an A# or do you just know what note it is if you listen hard?
     
  18. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    Ynwgie says everyone plays out of tune. Kinda annoying, ne?

    Your ear will improve VASTLY with singing. I took a vocals class this year for kicks, and while I'm certainly no singer, it has improved my ear vastly. Started transcribing a Ray Brown solo on DB last week (haven't had time to practice for a couple days :() and I'm now completely comfortable not using an electronic tuner*. Probably one of my happiest realizations about my ear recently happened in October when I found out I could tune to "So What" and have it be within a couple cents of a perfect D!

    * Note: From May 04 up until a few weeks ago, I was completely anal about using an electronic tuner EVERY time I played.
     
  19. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Yngwie is right, though. Everyone DOES play out of tune a little. Just by nature of the way musical instruments work.

    Jack, having perfect pitch is fun. As for your questions, when I hear an A#, my mind automatically picks up that it's an A# without having to listen hard or go through any conversions. And no, once you hear the first note, it's not all relative after that. People with perfect pitch don't have to do those types of conversions.

    As for being driven out of my mind when something goes out of tune, it can be irritating, but I've gotten so used to the fact that nothing is ever in perfect tune that it doesn't bug me anymore. If it's way off it's irritating, but if it's just a cent or two off, I really don't care all that much. Usually the only time being slightly out bugs me is when I haven't had a whole lot of sleep.