Vocals and Bass Simultaneously

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by TapperSlapper, Aug 18, 2017.

  1. TapperSlapper


    Jun 14, 2017
    I have a rock-rap band wherein I play the bass (primarily, sometimes I switch instruments with the guitarist) and I rap at the same time. It's kind of cool, but I feel like there are some limitations doing this this way.

    In particular rapping is a rhythmic thing just as bass, so I am really doing two rhythms simultaneously.

    In practice when I am rapping I simplify my bass playing to just eighth note pulses on root notes. Still I feel like it detracts slightly from my rapping, but more significantly, it limits the rhythm of the bass lines I can play while doing so. I'm trying to develop our sound and want to make more interesting grooves, as well as more interesting raps, and feel a bit limited.

    The options I've thought about,
    1) We are in between keyboard players, hopefully find one soon, but one option would be to once we get one, have him do the bass lines on the left hand. Live especially, however, it won't have the same feel. I could also go for a compromise hybrid strategy and play very sparsely, with the keyboard in between so that there is still the feel of the bass thump where it's needed but the distraction is limited. This feels like the best option, and any suggestions on making it work right would be appreciated

    2) Looping: I've also tried this as well, however, with a looper you can really only go a few bars until even a tiny mistiming builds up. Perhaps there are ways to lock in the looper with some click internally, though? Are there loopers like this?

    3) Of course another option is to get another bass player, with me sticking to layered double bass stuff (of course being very careful with the arrangement, but I have a 7 string so I have the range to do so) sometimes and lead guitar sometimes, but then we will end up as 6 people and things will get quite crowded and potentially complicated, although we could do some cool things. My band also really likes my bass playing it goes well with our style of music, and I can't just tell him to sit down when I'm not rapping and play my thing.

    Thoughts? Suggestions?

  2. sean_on_bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I think you should take this opportunity to get to a higher level of ability for playing & singing at the same time. I've seen some folks do some pretty amazing things, but i'm sure it takes practice. I suck at it myself.

    Outside of that, i think your idea of getting a keys player is a good one. Keys can produce some sweet synth bass sounds which will add even more to the group.
    RSBBass, Reedt2000 and Gearhead17 like this.
  3. TapperSlapper


    Jun 14, 2017
    I have thought about this as well, but there is a big difference between strumming chords and singing compared to rapping and playing the bass. The second involves keeping two different rhythms going, and I'm already focusing quite a bit on improving the skills individually. For simple eighth note pulses it's ok but I'd like to expand what I do with my raps and bass lines under them.
    It's hard enough to rap well, clearly, on beat etc.

    Note we have another vocalist who does singing vocals so then I get to play more interesting bass lines, but I'd like to not be limited on my verses.
  4. The Doors. Ray Manzarek wrote and played live both the keys and bass (on a separate keyboard). They used a studio bass player for recordings. It seemed to work fine for them.
  5. TapperSlapper


    Jun 14, 2017
    I see. I do like this idea the most. However, keyboard players are tough to find, and we've had trouble finding and holding on to them (went through 3 in the last year).
    In the case if we don't find one, what about the band buying a "band synthesizer" and then the singer can just trigger samples of the bass key parts under my rapping (as well as other key parts) when we're playing live? Of course we'll try to find a keys player first, but as a backup option?
  6. You said adding a second bass player would make 6 members. I can't imagine getting that many people on the same schedule and all having the same focus. Instrument swapping would be my first choice. Plus it looks cool from audience perspective. Prerecorded bass tracks would be okay but that means everyone has to follow that timing rather than the drummer or each other. Hope you figure something out.
  7. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Bunk McNulty likes this.
  8. TapperSlapper


    Jun 14, 2017
    Yes I also don't like the idea of adding another bassist, also because I just like bass so much:)
    Swapping (which we do already bass and guitar) wouldn't work so well to deal with this issue though, because I'm rapping at some point during most of our songs, and it'll be an awkward pause in the middle of the song to swap my bass and back with someone so I could take a verse.

    The drummer plays to a click in his headphones, so if the synth is lined up as well it should be consistent

    Thanks. I do most of the things you write there. The issue is not so much that I can't sing and play bass together at all, it's that I am rapping, and I want to develop more complex flows in my rapping, and similarly I want to start to incorporate more complex rhythms on the bass. The two are distinct rhythms, usually rap is a rhythm that isn't the same as the rhythm being played, but on top of it, not in the sense of a polyrhythm (well, sometimes) but it is something that builds together, and practically I'd be trying to play and mouth two different rhythms, which I've found especially challenging.
  9. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    This is an extremely useful link. Helped me a lot.