Episode 009: Double Duty

Being a bassist/vocalist makes you an even more valuable player. Start to sing your way to success.

Music: Jahzzar, Please Listen Carefully; spinningmerkaba, Urbana-Metronica (wooh-yeah mix)

Show notes

  • So you’re hearing from two guys who sing and play all the time…
    • Up front… We can’t teach you how to carry a tune. 😉 You need to be able to sing first!
    • Realize that very few people can play and sing complex stuff right away
    • Even someone like Geddy Lee has to learn his parts after they make the record
  • Dave asks: What do you find the most uncomfortable about doing this?
    • Paul:
      • Wildly syncopated lines vs. the melody… I’m often tempted to give up (and I have at times)
      • Hating my own voice and wondering if my bandmates hate it too…
      • Gets me out of the headspace, breaks concentration, and I start making mistakes, and BOOM negative feedback loop.
    • Dave:
      • I concur!
      • I am challenged with a smaller voice
      • Intonation – Tendency to go flat
  • Paul asks: How do you prepare for a song you have to sing while playing?
    • Dave:
      • Advice from J Buck – 16th notes
      • Sing everywhere – Remember lines
      • Stand
    • Paul:
      • A LOT of practice… first I make sure the bass line is solid, have to know that inside out first
      • Then I apply the vocal. If I have a problem making both lines, I take those bars apart and work on them slowly (at a low voice volume), just getting the rhythm right
      • This is where knowing how to subdivide time is important… it helps you time your notes properly voice vs. bass
  • Advice for those new to doing both?
    • Paul:
      • Start simple. Don’t try to start with prog-rock stuff like Rush or Yes — try things like Eagles, Pink Floyd.
      • Don’t be deceived, Beatles tunes can be HARD. There’s a reason they’re so revered
      • Know your range! Don’t strain or break your voice… I learned this the hard way with several years of downtime for my voice; it’s only now starting to be back to good working order… try vocal lessons!
      • We could have a whole show about how to be careful with your voice, but this is Practical Bass, not Practical Voice… let us know if you want more!
    • Dave:
      • Breath…know where your voice is coming from
      • Develop a warm up routine – They sound crazy, but the results are always such an improvement
      • Consider positioning to mic, posture, head/neck angle
      • Even being able to do back up on vocals always adds energy, dynamics, and value as a working bassist.

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