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Singing Advice


Stub Mandrel

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11 hours ago, ezbass said:

However, as @ubit mentions above, singing and playing bass at the same time is often a very different ball game, due to syncopation. 

This^^^. Some songs are very much harder to sing and play bass on than others. If the bassline's got a lot of syncopation in it, you have  to remember the notes, count correctly, hit the right note at the right time and remember the melody and lyrics. Not easy.

 

What might help in building confidence is to start with some easy three-chord songs that have simple basslines that don't need you to jump all over the neck to find the notes. You could maybe try ear plugs or if you use IEMs, turn down the vox in the mix so that the note you hear in your head  sounds louder than that coming through the PA. The two can sound very different - like everyone else who's posted on this thread, I hate the sound of my recorded voice and I'm still trying to get used to it.

 

If you want some suggestions for easy songs to try, Heaven by the Psychedelic Furs, Tina Turner's cover of The Best, ZZ Top's Gimme All Your Loving or Billy Idol's Dancing With Myself might be good ones to start off with. Little if any syncopation, chords change on the one and the vocal lines don't have too wide a range. Heaven is straight eighths all the way through - the only thing you need to work on is where the passing notes fall on the vocal line. Dancing With Myself is too, but it has a couple of small variations in the bridge and a tacet bit in the last verse, neither of which are particularly taxing. The Best has a slightly wider vocal range - the line 'oh baby, you're my soul' might cross your break and go a bit Pete Tong, but if you can keep it in time, you can work on that phrase separately. I can still royally f**k it up after practising it for months. Gimme All Your Loving has a syncopated bit in the third verse ('You got to move it up...') but it's easier than it sounds at first. A custom karaoke backing track might help - karaoke-version.co.uk lets you buy a track once and then download as many different mixes as you like for no additional charge. I've found it a godsend.

 

Once you've got some simple songs under your belt, you could try some trickier ones. Teenage Kicks might be a next baby step - easy bassline but the vocal line isn't as closely tied to it as the songs I've mentioned.  The key thing is to learn the two parts separately and get the bassline hammered into your muscle memory. Once that's done, it's much easier to put the parts together.

 

Just a few things that have worked for me. Keep at it, you'll get there.

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12 hours ago, lozkerr said:

This^^^. Some songs are very much harder to sing and play bass on than others. If the bassline's got a lot of syncopation in it, you have  to remember the notes, count correctly, hit the right note at the right time and remember the melody and lyrics. Not easy.

 

What might help in building confidence is to start with some easy three-chord songs that have simple basslines that don't need you to jump all over the neck to find the notes. You could maybe try ear plugs or if you use IEMs, turn down the vox in the mix so that the note you hear in your head  sounds louder than that coming through the PA. The two can sound very different - like everyone else who's posted on this thread, I hate the sound of my recorded voice and I'm still trying to get used to it.

 

If you want some suggestions for easy songs to try, Heaven by the Psychedelic Furs, Tina Turner's cover of The Best, ZZ Top's Gimme All Your Loving or Billy Idol's Dancing With Myself might be good ones to start off with. Little if any syncopation, chords change on the one and the vocal lines don't have too wide a range. Heaven is straight eighths all the way through - the only thing you need to work on is where the passing notes fall on the vocal line. Dancing With Myself is too, but it has a couple of small variations in the bridge and a tacet bit in the last verse, neither of which are particularly taxing. The Best has a slightly wider vocal range - the line 'oh baby, you're my soul' might cross your break and go a bit Pete Tong, but if you can keep it in time, you can work on that phrase separately. I can still royally f**k it up after practising it for months. Gimme All Your Loving has a syncopated bit in the third verse ('You got to move it up...') but it's easier than it sounds at first. A custom karaoke backing track might help - karaoke-version.co.uk lets you buy a track once and then download as many different mixes as you like for no additional charge. I've found it a godsend.

 

Once you've got some simple songs under your belt, you could try some trickier ones. Teenage Kicks might be a next baby step - easy bassline but the vocal line isn't as closely tied to it as the songs I've mentioned.  The key thing is to learn the two parts separately and get the bassline hammered into your muscle memory. Once that's done, it's much easier to put the parts together.

 

Just a few things that have worked for me. Keep at it, you'll get there.

 

So "The Real Me" isn't a good place to start then?

 

🤔

 

Series my ambition is modest, probably will try some dog noises on Let's Stick Together today...

 

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On 27/11/2021 at 08:58, Happy Jack said:

The two things that have worked best for me are (1) decent ear plugs,

 

(1) makes a difference because you can hear your 'internal' voice very clearly, regardless of what the PA is chucking out.

This ^ I can't sing without my ear plugs. They enable me to pitch the notes correctly, even if I can't hear myself in the monitors. The bonus to this is that my voice sounds OK to me in my head, and not that horrible abomination that usually comes out of the speakers, or when someone records me.

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12 hours ago, Stub Mandrel said:

 

So "The Real Me" isn't a good place to start then?

 

🤔

 

Series my ambition is modest, probably will try some dog noises on Let's Stick Together today...

Far too easy for you - maybe start with Won't Get Fooled Again or Jerry Was A Race Car Driver 😉

 

But aye, all joking apart, ease yourself into it. You could also try singing songs your band plays - you'll have the basslines nailed and if the vox sounds off but stays in time, that's 90% of the work done. 

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Like playing bass, theres no substitute for time soent practicing, hundreds of hours if necessary.

 

Im a pretty good singer but have a fairly deep voice and a narrow vocal range so I get to do the odd song that is too low for our vocalist, such as Hurt. Mrs Bassfinger is herself a trained singer and gives me some guidance but the crux of the matter is that nothing you do will work without significant time in the bank.

 

Good luck.

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Inspired by the comments here, I had a go yesterday, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Honestly, I don't think I would have had a go without hearing that so many of you have had to grit your teeth and go for it.

 

I stayed reasonably well back from the mike, so I could hear myself rather than the PA, I forgot my earplugs (we don't practice at great volume) 🙂

 

To cut along story short, Dakota was fine (not surprising!), chorus of Rebel Rebel was impossible, I managed the 'Please.... Please' on Stuck in the Middle with you, and was pleasantly surprised to cope with the tail end of Baggy Trousers, although the chorus was too much going on!

 

No-one complained, which means either they couldn't hear me or I was more or less in time/tune. Yes, I did check my mike was live 🙂

 

I've got a reasonable range, but when I can't hear myself well I tend to jump up an octave into my head voice at inappropriate moments; this is something for practice, but less important for backing vocals as they tend not to go up and down a lot.

 

So I shall practice at home, stick to the ones I can sing without fumble-fingers and gradually approach the mic closer until I reach the point where I get asked to keep it down 🤣

 

Thanks folks, I hope your suggestions encourage other people as well.

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2 hours ago, Stub Mandrel said:

To cut along story short, Dakota was fine (not surprising!), chorus of Rebel Rebel was impossible, I managed the 'Please.... Please' on Stuck in the Middle with you, and was pleasantly surprised to cope with the tail end of Baggy Trousers, although the chorus was too much going on!

 

Excellent! The first time's always the worst. Well done!

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Syncopation alone isn't all bad. There’s  syncopation and there’s syncopation. Some songs can be really quite complicated and vary in timings but for some reason you can nail them. Possibly because the vocal works around the varying rythms  Then there’s others (“all these things I’ve done” for me) where the simplest little bit can floor you and you just can’t get it. I will reiterate, the bass part needs to be learned ad nauseum so that EVERY bit of concentration is given to the vocal. I know if I had given more time to rehearsing that verse I would have got it but I always thought we are getting away with it and I have so much else to learn. 
we used to play “into the mystic” by Van Morrison. No trouble. “Crazy little thing called love”

by queen. Again, no trouble. The syncopated parts in those songs offered no problems but that damned Killers song! 

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Another thing to watch out for is sibilance. Apologies if you know about this but in case you don’t. Having your mouth too close to the mic when pronouncing “S” or “CH” sounds can cause an un attractive hiss if you don’t learn how to control it. Again, I had years of practice but you still need a sound check just in case it’s not you. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Back when all gigs were off, I put a lot of time into working on my vocals.  I had a vocal mic set up which went into a mixer, along with my bass signal and the song play back. All the output went into headphones which helped me get used to the sound of my voice outside my head.

Recording the session helps to find the bits that need work.

My biggest advance was realising that I wasn't breathing properly just before I sing, I was effectively holding my breath, or not breathing between phrases, which made pitching much harder.  Once I identified that issue and focussed on where the breaths shoud go, tone and pitching became a lot more reliable.

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You need to be careful... a lot of singers engage in what might be described as 'tuned shouting'. This is not good. The voice will tire very quickly, you can get hoarse and have a sore throat and it can cause long-term damage. Yes, singing requires effort, but there should be no tightening of muscles in the neck etc. If you're forcing it, there's something wrong. 

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16 hours ago, zbd1960 said:

You need to be careful... a lot of singers engage in what might be described as 'tuned shouting'. This is not good. The voice will tire very quickly, you can get hoarse and have a sore throat and it can cause long-term damage. Yes, singing requires effort, but there should be no tightening of muscles in the neck etc. If you're forcing it, there's something wrong. 

 

I was being humorous 🙂

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It is really encouraging to know that others are having the same problems as I have, and many of us share. Like @ubit I jut can't get my head round playing and singing 'All These Things' but as others have said Dakota is a cinch. What has helped me are a couple of lead singers who have been both patient and encouraging. They'll put up with the odd bit of pitching for the right sort of reinforcement in other songs. I started with one or two songs in the set and I've slowly built up to about a dozen or so, mostly big chorus songs. It's encouraging that when I sing the audience usually joins in and when I don't the song often falls flat.They may just be trying to block me out of course :)

My experience is slightly different though, I can only really pitch accurately if I can hear the monitors, without the PA I feel lost and I even have to set it up at home to practice.

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