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Any tips for singing while you are playing?

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  • Any tips for singing while you are playing?

    I can sing and play guitar for many songs, but I find that if I am doing a song where the guitar and singer are different it is difficult to stay in time.
    An example of this (for me anyway) is Back in Black. The guitar is easy; the singing is not too hard, but at the same time I find it very hard.
    Same goes for Van Halen tunes. I can play Panama and sing it, except for the slow part right after the solo. He's talking while Eddie is playing(getting a little bit hot tonight, I can barely see the road...etc)
    There are a few tunes that I change slightly so my voice and guitar don't throw each other off, but tunes like the ones I mentioned above shouldn't really be altered(it would change the song too much)

    Oh, a big thanks to whoever it was that started the vocal forum
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  • #2
    My tip would be to make sure you've got the riff down to the point where you don't have to think about it at all.

    Anything you're having trouble with throwing the vocals over the top of it, play through the riff really slowly and say (or sing or whatever) the words over the top of it to get a feel for where the syllables fall in relation to the riff. And once you start getting a feel for it, start moving it up to tempo.
    Originally Posted by Norton666 (15/07/2009)


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    • #3
      My tip would be to make sure you've got the riff down to the point where you don't have to think about it at all.

      Anything you're having trouble with throwing the vocals over the top of it, play through the riff really slowly and say (or sing or whatever) the words over the top of it to get a feel for where the syllables fall in relation to the riff. And once you start getting a feel for it, start moving it up to tempo.


      I have both songs completely down and flawless as long as someone else is singing. I'll try slowing it down like you said. This might take a while
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      • #4
        Good advice, DNW. Pretty much exactly what I would have said.
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        • #5
          This is exactly like learning to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time. It's difficult and awkward at first, but with some practice, no big deal. But it does take conscious effort.

          Bass players often have more difficulty than guitarists, as bass lines are often syncopated against vocal lines. But there are some really powerful singers who play bass. It can be done.
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          • #6
            Practice, practice, practice.
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            • #7
              I play bass and sing.. I find the same things. bass lines that are very different from the vocal line in timing pose a challenge, but it's a matter of rehearsing, just keep playing the part and singing the part until it becomes natural. I do songs like 'Leave your Hat on' the JOe COcker version, there is little attention to the '1' in the way he sings that song. so I either adjust the way I sing it just a bit, or I work through until I don't have to think about it.
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              • #8
                yup
                ...pretty much what everyone is saying seems to be good.

                Just gotta practice, doesn't have to be for weeks but it does have to be focused w/out tv, phone, internet, girlfriend/boyfriend.....
                Get the separate guitar and vocal pats down where they are second nature and what I do if it's especially tricky is run the tune in headphones against a click.

                Now if I could only learn to solo and sing at the same time......
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                • #9
                  All the above. If this doesn't satisfy, alter the rhythm of one or the other to taste. Take a more broad approach to "...shouldn't really be altered(it would change the song too much)..." Check out live versions by the artist. Live versions differ from studio versions and can show the artist's take on what is not too much.

                  Have a backing vocalist or bassist cover a certain part.

                  And when you get Back in black down, you're really doing well, and post on youtube, because that one is brutally difficult to replicate!
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                  • #10
                    I learned this trick years ago:

                    When I recorded a demo of a new song I'd written, I'd record the bass and guitar over a simple beat, put the vocals on top, and then listen to the result a lot. And soon I'd discover that I could play the bass part and sing at the same time, without thinking.

                    My theory is that listening to the vocal and bass part together over and over tricked my brain into thinking I could do both at the same time, and that made it easier to do!
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                    • #11
                      I've played bass, keyboards and guitar while singing. I started on bass. I also play sax but I cannot sing and do that at the same time

                      I don't find it difficult at all, but I did at first. So the practice, practice, practice advice is the best.

                      I found it best if I learned the guitar (bass or keyboard) part first and practiced it until I could play it pretty much without thinking about it. Almost to the point where it is automatic.

                      Then do the same with the vocals.

                      Then mix them together. If the song is difficult, it might be best to learn a part at a time. Say the verse or "A" part first, then the chorus or "B" part and any other sections that might be in the song.

                      The more you do it, the easier it gets. And eventually, it gets to be a lot of fun!

                      Now that I've been doing it for years, I don't have to practice a new song that much before it's ready (unless it is extremely difficult).

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                      • #12
                        One keyboard, guitar and bass player had the biggest problem singing while playing bass. When I was just starting out, I had to have either the singing or the bass part down to the point of not having to think about it at all so I could concentrate on the other.

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                        • #13
                          i've always wondered how musicians can sing, play guitar and the harmonica all at the same time. now that's talent!


                          If someone can sing and play the harmonica at the same time, that's not just talent. That's downright freaky.
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                          • #14
                            my brain into thinking I could do both at the same time, and that made it easier to do!


                            I have noticed the same thing, although I play guitar and not bass.
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                            • #15
                              In the late 1980s I took a gig on a cruise ship.

                              Once a week we had the night off in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Leilani and I would go find salsa music for our listening pleasure.

                              We ran across a guy named Junior Laredo who did all of the following at the same time:


                                Simply amazing.

                                We didn't talk much because his English was as bad as my Spanish, but I told him I was a musician and we spend some time on his break saying what we could and smiling a lot.

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