What is a vocalist and what is a singer?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by sears, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. sears

    sears Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2005
    ec, md
    I read a definition here, today, which was different from what I looked up from the experts at Quora, and also different from my own rule of thumb (which is admittedly eccentric).

    The wizards of Quora say a singer is someone who sings, but a vocalist is a really good singer. That anyone can be a singer but a vocalist is another level entirely. I think that maybe there ought to be more of an unarguable difference than that.
  2. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Guest

    Nov 22, 2017
    They are synonyms. Both words mean the same thing.
    gln1955, sears and Wisebass like this.
  3. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    I always considered a vocalist was someone who could sing AND scat!
  4. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    A singer sings, a vocalist can also grunt, scream, gargle, do the cookie monster thing.
  5. Wisebass


    Jan 12, 2017
    Lost in Space
    Hi sears :)


    Borrowed from Old French vocal, borrowed from Latin vōcālis. Doublet of vowel.

    (source: Wiktionary)

    A vocalist is a singer who had French (or Latin) at school! :laugh:


    sears likes this.
  6. sears

    sears Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2005
    ec, md
    I am totally fine with them being synonymous.

    The distinction I made in my mind was that a vocalist is a singer + microphone. I was thinking, wouldn't it be nice to repurpose "vocalist" to mean, someone who plays the microphone? Bing was more of a vocalist; guys like Van Morrison and Springsteen are more singers. Singers can fill a hall without amplification by using proper singing technique. I doubt Justin Timberlake can -- not to take anything away from his artistry. You can be both singer and vocalist. Someone like Whitney Houston comes to mind. Anyway, enough raving.
  7. I consider vocalist to be a more generic term. For example I consider someone doing Cookie Monster vocals in a metal band to be a vocalist but not a singer. It’s not something I’m super picky about though. It’s not like people calling a kick drum a bass drum for example (they are two completely different instruments that aren’t even played with the same limbs lol)
  8. alembicguy

    alembicguy I roam the earth and I know things Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Both are a special breed that need much attention. They usually have a sore throat for several months of the year and can be incredibly deaf and require more monitor than any normal human can tolerate. Both are one in the same.
    DirtDog likes this.
  9. Beware the frog!
  10. Mata Leao

    Mata Leao

    Dec 21, 2017
    Various levels of pretenciousness. Same as the difference between a bassist and bass player.
    sears likes this.