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Tips on improved singing required, please.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Rockin John, Sep 3, 2002.

  1. The band's at a crossroads. Everything's upside down. Did a dreadful show Saturday night (with a couple of "borrowed" singers). And still no permanent vocalist means it looks as though it's down to me:eek:when the split up and reforming takes place.........

    Should that be the case I wondered if anyone out there can suggest how I could improve my singing. I mean, I'm OK (even the wife says I'm OK
    :cool: :eek: :cool: ) but singing a couple of numbers + harmonies is a different game to carrying the whole set. I struggle with the mechanics of playing bass and singing, too: fretless and singing is even worse!!

    But voice training advice is what I think I need more than most.

    Need some advice plesae, guys.


  2. The only thing I could suggest is find a teacher! They'll be able to gauge what you can do, and where you need to improve based on how/what you're wanting to sing!

    Sorry, this probably isn't what you were looking for!

    Our singer has been taking lessons for a couple of years now. She keeps trying to get me to do them to - but time and money have stopped me from going so far! Her voice has improved considerably - I only do backing vocals, but when I find the time and the money I'll probably go for it!

    I know what you mean about singing and playing - if I think about either, I mess them both up!
  3. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    With the bass and singing bit I cannot help you. I actually swapped to guitar in a band I formed because I was going to have to sing my songs. My bass player does sing the odd lead and he tends to play really simply while doing it.

    Re singing the best advice I ever recieved was to be yourself. Don't try to be a Chicago Blues Singer if you come from Luton England. A song is a narrative and if you present the words clearly who cares if you sound like Bob Dylan or Ian Dury. Lou Reed Mick Jones. The list is endless. Stick within your range and be confident in it.

    Singing is a love hate relationship for me. I get extremely nervous before and after I could do it again.
  4. mans0n


    Jun 15, 2002
    practice practice practice practice practice practice

    sing for an hour! sing and play for an hour

    do it any time you have

    schooling would help but lots of practice will still be needed
  5. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    But the practice has to be right. Crucial to good singing is singing in key. You cannot be sharp or flat. You have to be able to carry a tune. If you cannot, that is one of the first skills you have to develop. That includes "hearing" yourself and knowing if you are going sharp or flat and correct it. If you are practicing out of key, you are just perpetuating your shortcomings (if, indeed, that is your shortcoming.)

    Another thing is breath control so that you don't run out of steam halfway through the song or a held note. Some folks have so little breath control that they practically talk through the song. Unless you are a rapper, you need to be able to connect the words seamlessly.

    Another thing is vocal expressiveness or dynamics...singing softer and louder or harder when lyrics demand such artistry. Listen to Sinatra. He was a master of expressiveness, adding meaning to every song in order to connect with the audience.

    I had singing lessons and learned so much. I also learned I probably never could be a really good singer, let alone play bass and sing. I knew it would take me maybe years to train my scratchy voice to a tolerable level for an audience. You don't have to have a perfect voice, but you must use the voice you have very well.

    My teacher did have one peice of advice for the class I never forgot. "If you can't sing well, at least sing loud." That might be controversial, but I thought it was funny.

  6. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    good advice!

    i'm kinda in a situation where i may audition to be my band's singer! :eek: :eek:

    thing is, i can't play and sing simultaneously for a hill of beans. not even a mole hill! (i'll try to avoid addressing the obvious joke regarding "...i can't play and sing...").

    i pay attention to those points that boplicity mentioned (make sure you are singing in tune, control breath, dynamics and phrasing, etc.)...i'm not EXTREMELY great or anything, vocally. whenever i try to play and sing at the same time, both components start out fine enough, then slowly unravel as the song i am butchering progesses.

    but i guess it all comes down to practice, and then practice some more!

    in an older bass player (my first issue...February of 2000 with paul mccartney on the cover), useful advice given on singing while playing was to seperate your body at the neck, mentally. focus on singing, let your body do the playing. but of course, your parts have to be second-nature to accomplish this.
  7. Singing lessons is certainly the best answer. But, like most, the time and money isn't there. I mean, I'd love bass tuition but there's not the recources for that so singing tuition is definitely out.

    Because we can't get a vocalist for whatever reason, I've taken on more of the vocals just to get us through a rehersal. The result is that my voice has improved (according to the guitarist and the wife as I said in the opening post). But.......

    Forgetting playing and singing together for the moment, there are some songs I just can't do. They're too high...well, parts of the songs are too high for me. And, of course, because I can't do part of the song, I can't do any of it :rolleyes: I can tell whether I'm # or b and correct. It's my range that's of concern.

    OK. Just popped out to play with a guitar tuner. I can manage two clean octaves from about 100Hz (G open on bass). Low F and F# with some difficulty.

    So, is 2 octaves enough for a male singer? Do I need to increase that range or should I bee looking to do songs that fit within it with ease?

    More wisdon please guys:D


  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well you could transpose songs into a different key - my Latin band has to do that for our singer and she's very good !!

    It helps if you have software like Sibelius for score writing - but it's easy for bass/guitar - so you can just play what you would have , but 3,4 frets up or whatever!! ;)
  9. Good afternoon Bruce. How the devil are you?

    Well, we tried transposing a couple of numbers. Somehow it didn't seem all that successful. I found it OK to sing but the guitarist complained that they seem to loose the feel of the original key. Others said so too, so we kind-a gave up.

    Good suggestion, though, and thanks. I guess we'll have to try again with this but using different songs.

  10. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I think your band mates are being too rigid about this. Afterall, no matter what singer they have, that singer will most likely have some limitations as to vocal range, etc. A woman can generally sing higher than a man...ala Whitney Houston. A man can generally sing lower than a woman, given some of the bass voices found in barber shop quartets or church harmony groups.

    Fact is very few singers have Whitney's range or Christine Aguilera's. Fact is most singers have a few keys in which they are most comfortable, plus have a few styles of songs and timing in which they are most comfortable. Few if any singers can handle just any song thrown at them.

    The trick is for you to find those keys that work best for you. One way is to sit down with a piano or keyboard and play a note, then sing a full scale with that note as the bass. Then go to the next note up and sing that full scale, etc. You will soon discover when you have hit your max for high notes. Then work down from the original note. You will soon discover when it is uncomfortable to sing any lower. With that test, you will find your present comfortable range.

    Honestly, though, without lessons from a skilled vocal coach, it may be difficult for you to extend that range, either higher or lower. Furthermore, you have the added burden of singing and playing at the same time.

    I hope your band mates will cut you some slack. Afterall, they aren't singing. If they insist on playing certain songs in their favorite keys, then they should see which one of them can sing in that key. Maybe your band will have to take turns singing your set list. Actually that isn't a bad idea.

    If they don't want to find songs comfortable for you, if they don't want to alter the present set list in any way, either by song or by key, then they have to bend in some other way. The singer is the one who makes the music meaningful to the audience. That's why singers are called "frontmen." Your band should be doing everything they can to help you sound good, because if you don't sound good, the band doesn't sound good.

    Two more ideas. One: There are books written on singing, even rock singing. Get one and study it religiously. Two: Record yourself singing, even a cheap recorder will do. Preferably record yourself singing unacompanied, but if you must, sing with a CD turned down low. It is very hard for us to really interpret how our own voice sounds. A tape recorder will not lie. Listen to your tape as if you were a member of the audience. Do you like what you hear? What are your strengths?(Clear, strong voice, excellent, clear diction, can carry a tune, expressiveness.) Do you notice any weaknesses? (Too soft a delivery, lack of breath control, can't remember lines, flat delivery, too harsh, too thin, etc.)

    Best of luck and let us know how you progress in this new challenge.
  11. Appreciate the advice, Bop. Will return tomorrow with fuller response if poss.


  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yes, I was in Denmark Street last week and noticed that Rose Morris now have a whole wall of stuff aimed at helping singers - books with CDs, videos, computer programmes! I blame Pop Idol!! ;) (American Idol)

    I also noticed a few women who looked like they might be singers - whereas before I hardly ever remember seeing any women in music shops - it was all guys trying gear/guitars!! ;)
  13. Thanks Bruce. That is worth knowing. I'll make a start at my local library ASAP.

    Boplicity, I've seen / heard myself on video a number of times when the wife's recorded us playing. My singing doesn't sound too bad in the context of us being a 3 piece rock band (bass, gtar, drums) doing sort-of covers from the 70s. Having said that, I've not really critically studied my singing.

    I'll never be a Sinatra or a Tom Jones, but I seem to be able to get the song over clearly and with some expression (favourites currently are slow-ish blues stuff which are the numbers I did from the set when we had a vocalist).

    Yes. My range spans 2 octaves from about open G on the bass; perhaps a semitone or 2 lower if I'm lucky. I'm certainly most comfortable in the key of A. Having said that it obviously depends on the song and I can do other songs in other Keys.

    It's not that the band are insisting on certain keys or otherwise being difficult about it. It's that, up to now, the guitarist has felt as I described.

  14. I used to sing mainly backing with my last band, but with our new one,(we've been gigging since January), we all share the singing. I think this makes us a more interesting band to watch ( yes we could be a bit boring otherwise!)

    I personally love the challenge of singing and playing. I haven't got a great voice, but I think if you deliver the song with confidence and in tune (of course!) you get away with it. I wouldn't want to go back to just playing any more. Even if at first you can't do both - learn each individually and then keep practising them together!

    I practice at home with the mic set up, as I feel it's important to learn when to back off from it and when to sing softly right up to it. Also, in the live situation, it's not always possible to hear all the nuances that I hope I'm putting in (having practised them at home)!

    I am actually in the throes of looking for a teacher myself - partly because I don't want to damage myself, but I'd also like to improve.

    What I have learnt so far:....

    (also from playing flute) use your diaphragm to breathe in, and when you sing, try to control the breath out. Overblowing will make you sharp and under will make you flat. You could note where you plan to breathe each time on your song sheet.

    [My flute teacher used to suggest lying flat on your back with some books over your tummy and breathing in and out to make them rise and fall.]

    With time my range seems to be improving, despite no special exercises - just practise again!

    For me, I feel I'm singing better now I'm more confident - practise and experience I suppose.

    Sorry I've gone on - Good Luck!

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