Singing/Playing simultaneously

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by NioeZero, Sep 13, 2001.

  1. NioeZero


    Sep 2, 2001
    Does anyone else here sing lead vocals and play bass? I'd like to take over lead vocals from my band's current singer, but I play relatively complex basslines, and I don't know how to get my brain to process both sets of information at the same time.

    I've been playing bass for about 6 years, but never while singing. I can sing pretty decent on my own, but while playing bass, I tend to get tongue-tied, or my hands lose track of what they were doing.

    Any tips? Exercises? Advice?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. MrFortuneCookie

    MrFortuneCookie Guest

    Aug 23, 2000
    New York, NY
    I would have to say that there are two things you could try. one being, on your own time, try to play bass and sing songs until you get it down, like simple songs, and then build your way up. or, the quicker way would be that you would have to focus yourself on the singing and not really pay attention to the notes you play and let your hands take care of that part. Bass and vocals usually don't go hand in hand for these things like guitars do. Hope that helps at all
  3. I can play rediculously fast if I dont think about the playing part (Ive played some of the tougher OpIvy songs and sang), but if you think about what your playing, youre gonna get lost, unless the song is slow or repetitive.
  4. ILikeToJam

    ILikeToJam Guest

    Sep 22, 2001
    Avon, NY
    i've had the same problem for a while. my advice is to get the song down pat on bass first and then slowly build up the vocals. i've been doing that for quite some time now and even though i'm not perfect, it's greatly improved my ability to sing & play simultaniously.
  5. melvin

    melvin Guest

    Apr 28, 2001
    Often during jazz band I have to start telling the guitarist the rythem (knows the chords not the rythem) in an area of a song, I usually have the bassline down really good so I dont need to focus on that, playing it is habitual, so its easy to talk.

    So Id say get your lines down good so you dont need to think about what your playing, it just comes on its own.
  6. eViL cAkE

    eViL cAkE Guest

    Sep 6, 2001
    Just East of Dallas
    I've always wanted to be able to sing and play at the same time. Just think; having control over both the melody and the bass line...oh the power!


    I still basically suck at it, but I'm trying to gain independants by writing most of my songs on piano rather than bass. I'm thinking that maybe if I think of my bass and my voice as two parts of the same instrument, it might all come together someday. On piano I always think composite rhythms to coordinated my left and right hands. But then I'm using two like parts of the body. But, when I try to sing and play bass at the same time, I can sometimes sing notes on "la" or "da" syllables, (or what have you) but have enormous difficulties with diction, or actually saying words for some reason. It just takes too much concentration for me.

    Oh well...thought I'd just join the support group.

    eViL cAkE

  7. Oysterman

    Oysterman Guest

    Mar 30, 2000
    I can't do that (hell, I can't even sing properly!), but here's what I've heard that the famous Geddy Lee does:

    * Practice the bass line until you can play it in your sleep.
    * Practice the vocals until they flow as by reflex.
    * Try to play and sing at the same time, small pieces of the song at a time. Build it up slowly.
  8. martininpv

    martininpv Guest

    Oct 1, 2001
    Pflugerville, TX
    As with anything, practice is the key.

    Get the bass line down until it is automatic. If the bass line is very complex while you need to sing, perhaps it can be simplified while still giving the general effect. Sometimes we, as bass players, over-play a song (because it is fun).

    You want to be able to concentrate on your vocals.
  9. Chris J

    Chris J Inactive

    The other day me and my friend (Who plays drums) were playing Lacquer Head by Primus during our lunch break at school. Don't ask he how but I managed to play it well AND sing along. We were both singing/yelling the lyrics. Everyone thought it was great. Keep on sniffing till your brain goes pop!
    Don't ask me how I pulled that off. Maybe the energy of our friends, maybe it was the result of practising. Beats me. But it sure was fun!
  10. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    When I first started playing, I had to do the lead vocals as well as the basslines. I was a pretty good bassist and a pretty good singer, but when I had to do both at the same time, I sucked. I decided (or had it decided for me) that I would forget about doing the lead vocals and just concentrate on playing bass. Over the course of the seven years I have been playing, I developed the ability to play and sing at the same time, if the song is not too difficult (lots of changes, etc.). I don't think I will ever want to do lead vocal work again, but I do participate in some of the backups.

    My advice, start slowly -- try to sing along in your head as you play. Then, when you've "mastered" that, try singing out loud as you play until you get it down. Good luck!
  11. that's what I do too. Bass first, vocals next.

    BTW, happy birthday. Mine's in 2 days.;)
  12. chipmolter

    chipmolter Guest

    Aug 27, 2001
    Baltimore, MD
    I believe I read in an interview with Les Claypool that he practices his bass lines while watching TV. After he can do those things at the same time, he goes after vocals. But man, if I could watch TV as well as Les Claypool can....;)
  13. LimpChunk9


    May 8, 2001
    I find that playing/singing along with CD's helps a lot. I do that everyday. Start easy with root note songs (Blink) and then move on to more harder things (A New Found Glory) then you can play more difficult bass riffs (The Bouncing Souls) while singing. Make sure you can play the whole song seperatly and make sure you can sing the lyrics to the whole song seperatly, then put them together. I've been practicing for a while and I'm very good at doing both at the same time.

    Too bad my whole band thinks I suck at singing, oh well.
  14. onebassplayer

    onebassplayer Guest

    Jun 20, 2000
    Silver Spring, MD
    I normally practice vocal line until I can sing them in my sleep... that way, I can concentrate on the bass lines and not worry so much about vocals.... works for me anyway :p
  15. playerdelabass

    playerdelabass Guest

    Oct 8, 2001
    SW England
    THis si all wel and good, but you all seem to be talking about written songs.

    our band writes songs through jamming, gates a melody, and then we sit down and expand the lyrics a bit... how do you do that while playing???

    I think sometimes you've gotta accept that you've reached your limit, and can't do everything...
  16. NioeZero


    Sep 2, 2001
    Actually, these have all been really helpful suggestions, and I'm starting to feel a little more comfortable doing both at the same time. Thanks to anyone who had something positive to say. And as far as written songs go, My band has about 9 songs or so that are already finished with vocals and lyrics. However, one of the main reasons I'm thinking of taking over vocals in the first place is that I write the majority of the music for my band, and the lyrics and vocals don't quite reflect what I'd had in mind while composing the songs. If that isn't frustrating, I don't know what is. So, essentially, I'll be starting from scratch if I decide to boot the current singer and do it all myself.:oops:

    Wish me luck.
  17. lobster_boy

    lobster_boy Guest

    Aug 6, 2001
    Me and my band used to play DMV by Primus and I sang and it was easy but thats probably because its the same bass line in a buncha different variations. And it sounded pretty good cuase I sound like a big dork like Les.
  18. beermonkey

    beermonkey Guest

    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Sometimes the simple bassline is not possible when singing though. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I got volunteered by my funk/soul band to sing all the Stevie Wonder tunes. We currently play "Sir Duke", "I Wish", and "Master Blaster". Let me tell you, "Sir Duke" is a pain in the ass to play and sing while keeping that skippy bass feel going. I despise all of them (my band) emmensely for making me do that.