Why can't I sing and play at the same time???

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by TMBTC, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. TMBTC


    Oct 18, 2009
    I can play guitar and sing...... I can sing and play drums. So why is it when I try to sing and play bass it NEVER goes well. Either my fingers play what I'm singing or my voice follows what I'm playing.
    murphy likes this.
  2. First time you sang and played guitar I bet it did not flow either.

    It will come it's just going to take time it's that ole P word.

    What helps me - I sing the song with the vocalist, under my breath - helps with the groove. Give it a try.

    Keep trying.
  3. Edwcdc

    Edwcdc I call shotgun!

    Jul 21, 2003
    Columbia MD USA
    Sometimes you have to take each line and go slowly to see where the beat vs syllable falls and kind of sound it out so to speak. Also make sure you can play the bass part without thinking then do the vocal.
    Go slow you will get it. Using this method I have been able to work out parts that i thought were going to be impossible.
  4. Skitch it!

    Skitch it!

    Sep 6, 2010
    Because basslines have tendencies to go 'across the beat' it's much harder to syncopate the lines, cross rhythms are the tricky bit, slow practise to reinforce where the beat is IMO, hours of fun.
  5. drgasturias


    May 13, 2010

    What I do is play the bassline again and again and again and again, and after a lot of time playing it, you don't have to think ''what'll be the next note?'', so you'll be able to sing.
  6. TMBTC


    Oct 18, 2009
    Thanks guys appreciate the help.
  7. john_g


    Sep 14, 2007
    whats funny is Im exactly the same way. I cant play bass and sing either (yet) but I can play the drums and sing. Im just starting trying to play bass and sing at the same time so I have alot of work to do.
  8. plangentmusic

    plangentmusic Inactive

    Jun 30, 2010
    I also play drums, guitar and keyboards, but bass is by far hardest to play and sing at the same time.

    People think it'd be the drums because it requires several limbs but they aren't always moving independently and it's a repetitive motion. The bass plays constantly moving patterns that are counter rhythmic to the melody which makes it far more difficult.

    There are only two options -- simplify the bass part or put more practice into a particularly difficult song.

    And there you have it.
  9. I practice the vocals in the car after learning the bass part so it's second nature. But like everyone said, practice is the key.
  10. craig.p


    Sep 28, 2008
    New Hampshire
    What works for me is what drgasturias and MrDOS said. I have to practice the bass part so many times that eventually I can play it perfectly even while thinking about something totally different. I'm not talking about 10 times or 20 times. I'm talking about SEVERAL HUNDRED times, over the course of several days -- hard, often dreary work over many, many hours in a stuffy room at the expense of doing something I'd rather be doing on a nice warm sunny day, such as riding my horse or my Harley. Only after having reached that point will I even think about learning a vocal part.
  11. TMBTC


    Oct 18, 2009
    This is not a recent problem.... I've been playing since I was 13..... I'm 48....... I'm not a guitar player, can only strum a few chords but I can sing while I strum.
  12. billhilly66


    Aug 25, 2007
    Plano, TX
    If it was easy, there wouldn't be as many gigs for the guys who can do it.
  13. trkelley


    Nov 18, 2009
    Oregon USA
    Lots of great suggestions so far. Take it apart slowly, see how it works, put it back together. One way: strip the bass line down to just roots on the downbeat or the primary changes, and sing over that, add the rest of the bassline in as you get the feel for the major landmarks. Singing lead while playing fretless is your goal.....:)
  14. Pick one or two songs that have a repetative bassline that doesn't really have anything to do with the vocals. I remember one tune I worked on was "We Gotta Get Outta This Place" by the Animals. (I'm old!) Practice singing and playing and eventually your playing and singing sort of take on seperate entities. I remember spending many hours trying to get the coordination to do both, and now it seems like second nature.
  15. bass12

    bass12 Turn up the Eagles - the neighbours are listening Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    It's difficult, especially when one is playing syncopated lines. When you are playing guitar you are probably strumming on the beat and that makes things a lot easier. I'll bet you have less trouble singing over one-note eighth-note bass lines than you do playing more melodic dotted sixteenths. And it's not only a question of syncopation - singing over a bass line that is melodically "counter" to your vocal part can mess with your head. I think the key is to have the bass line down cold to the point where you don't have to focus on it (and can focus more on your singing). The key for me is slow repetition. Some stuff seems impossible at first but, after practicing at very slow speeds and building up it's amazing what can change. Good luck!
  16. edmidlifecrisis

    edmidlifecrisis Registered mediocre bass player

    Great thread. I can't sing and play ANYTHING at the same time. Even singing while strumming a guitar is difficult. Yes, if were easy everyone could do it. My wife plays piano and sings with ease, she's been doing that since she was little.

    A wise pro guitarist once told me that there's a genetic component to this, she pointed to B.B. King as an example- he NEVER sings and plays at the same time. Watch him.

    I like to think that's the case with me, genetics. But it also might be because I haven't put enough effort into it, and the suggestions in this thread are great. THANKS FROM ME TOO!!

    PS How the hell does SHE do this? It seems impossible to me?

    slipitin likes this.
  17. Rocker949


    Apr 20, 2005
    I was in a band for several years in which I played bass and did most of the vocals. In other bands, I have chosen not to sing, mostly because I'm not interested in it very much. I can't explain why I lost interest in singing, although one thing is I just don't think my voice sounds as good as it used to. My point, though, is that when I do try to sing and play now, it is far more difficult. So I'd say constantly practicing at singing and playing could be a key factor in being good at it.
  18. I'm a bass player+lead vocalist/backup vocalist depending on the gig.

    +1 to everything that's been said here. It took a bit of self-awareness for me to sort out my problems with singing and playing bass. I started with harmonies (which is probably harder than starting with singing lead vocals). Here's how I do it (which is pretty much what others have already said)...

    I work on the bass part first until I can play it kind of mechanically without thinking about it. I noticed along time ago was that I was "singing" the bass part in my head like a melody while I was playing. Having made that observation, I understood why I couldn't sing a vocal part that was counter-melodic and often counter rhythmic to the other part I was already "singing" (the bass part). So I developed a habit/technique where I make a conscious effort to learn the bass part well enough to not have to sing it like a melody in my head in order to play it. In the mean-time, I practice the vocal part separately. When I put the two parts together I pay close attention to the placement of notes in time for both parts. It's sort of like I imagine the two parts on one staff together, at least rhythmically, if that makes any sense. Or maybe it's more like reading piano music where you have right hand and left hand things happening simultaneously. My point is that the key to doing this is knowing exactly where the notes for each part land (in time) as I count out the beats of a bar. That sounds absurdly rudimentary and understated, I know.

    Now that I've been doing this for a very long time, I don't actually have to think about it any longer, but that's a basic description of what worked for me when I taught myself how to do it, and that's one way that I've used to teach students to do it. This method sometimes reveals the need to practice different rhythms, both vocally and while playing bass, and also to think more analytically about rhythms. This kind of thing is always harder for me to describe in writing than it is to just show someone in person. And then... practice.
    Plectrum72 likes this.
  19. Basslice

    Basslice Supporting Member

    May 11, 2008
    Western Massachusetts
    Interesting question. I am now the lead singer of a roots rock, R&R band. I've been playing for 23 years now and mostly done backing vocals - and I thought that was hard. I also have no idea how piano players - good piano players - play two handed with bass on one hand and melody on the other.

    Now that I am the lead, all I can say is that I just do it. I simplify lines where I can and really groove in between when I am singing. I think the most important thing is that I don't think about what I am doing - I just do it. Practice helps, but to be honest, even when we are learning a new song, I just learn the basic chord structure of the song and just play along with the beat. I think I have a bigger problem memorizing the words than singing and playing. Then again, I am not a Monster Chop bass player.

    I think if I thought about what I was doing I would trip all over myself. Just Do It.
  20. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I play bass and sing on a few songs, some of them with different syncopation on bass and vocal lines. What helps me is to go through a verse of the song over and over until I can feel the underlying clock stream in 8th notes or 16th's while I am doing it. Bass note falls on this stroke, vocal line on this one, etc. Once I have one verse down, the rest follows more easily.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Oct 26, 2021

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.