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Thread: Singing and Playing

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    Default Singing and Playing

    Hopefully this is in the right subforum, but I'm really struggling here.

    I tried doing it with my band but I just pull it off. If I sing it I can't play it, if I play it I can't sing it. Practice, practice, practice I'm sure but are there any tips or exercises that can help me along?

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    I can do it pretty proficiently on acoustic, but not on electric if the song is even remotely challenging. I can't even fathom trying to sing while playing bass.

    So I'm just curious for the tips that others have.
    Quote Originally Posted by Spudman
    Does anyone read the original post?
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    Play stuff like CCR to start with...the strumming rhythm is easy to sing along.
    Dee

    "When life's a biatch, be a horny dog"

    Amps: Marshall JVM 410H w/ Plexi Cap mod, Choke Mod & Negative Feedback Removal mod, 4x12", Behringer GMX110, Amplitube 3/StealthPedal

    Half a dozen custom built/bastardized guitars all with EMG's, mostly 85's, Ibanez Artwood acoustic & Yamaha SGR bass, Epiphone Prophecy SG, Vox Wah, Pitchblack tuner plus assorted pedals, rack gear etc. for home studio use.

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    Glacies, how long have you been playing? Are you referring to playing rhythm chords while singing, or playing something more complicated while singing? I've seen other forum posts about this "problem", and it kinda blows my mind, because I've been doing it since beginner lessons, and can't imagine not being able to (no denigration intended). I think practice is gonna be the key, starting with easy and familiar songs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bookkeeper's Son View Post
    Glacies, how long have you been playing? Are you referring to playing rhythm chords while singing, or playing something more complicated while singing? I've seen other forum posts about this "problem", and it kinda blows my mind, because I've been doing it since beginner lessons, and can't imagine not being able to (no denigration intended). I think practice is gonna be the key, starting with easy and familiar songs.
    I picked up the guitar somewhere around 5 years ago, played it off and on. In the last year or two I've gotten much more serious about my playing though, so small beans compared to you guys.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glacies View Post
    I picked up the guitar somewhere around 5 years ago, played it off and on. In the last year or two I've gotten much more serious about my playing though, so small beans compared to you guys.
    You'd be surprised...

    I guess the advice in here is pretty solid: pick some simple three or four-chord songs with a steady rhythm and just practice singing the vocals along with it. I found songs by Travis and Oasis (no surprise there, considering it's me) to be good for that sort of stuff, because they usually have an acoustic guitar and are fairly straightforward rhythmically. Before I had the gumption to sing while playing, I used to hum or whistle while playing the guitar, and I found that to be a decent compromise.
    Quote Originally Posted by Spudman
    Does anyone read the original post?
    Guitars: Gibson LP Studio, MIA Fender Precision, Carvin C350
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    In some ways, it's like splitting your brain in two, with one half playing guitar and one half singing. McCartney demonstrates this to its max. I think if you know the song well enough, one or the other may be so automatic, that you can even improvise on the other part. And it's also a little like learning to play without looking at your hands, especially your left (if you're a righty) hand - you gotta force yourself to do it until it's second nature.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bookkeeper's Son View Post
    In some ways, it's like splitting your brain in two, with one half playing guitar and one half singing. McCartney demonstrates this to its max. I think if you know the song well enough, one or the other may be so automatic, that you can even improvise on the other part. And it's also a little like learning to play without looking at your hands, especially your left (if you're a righty) hand - you gotta force yourself to do it until it's second nature.
    Yup, I'd agree with that. It definitely helps to have one of the things down cold, which almost always ends up being the guitar part.
    Quote Originally Posted by Spudman
    Does anyone read the original post?
    Guitars: Gibson LP Studio, MIA Fender Precision, Carvin C350
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bookkeeper's Son View Post
    In some ways, it's like splitting your brain in two, with one half playing guitar and one half singing. McCartney demonstrates this to its max. I think if you know the song well enough, one or the other may be so automatic, that you can even improvise on the other part. And it's also a little like learning to play without looking at your hands, especially your left (if you're a righty) hand - you gotta force yourself to do it until it's second nature.
    hrmm, I just started being able to play without looking and that just came naturally. Maybe I'll just try to force it and see how it comes out. Next band practice is this saturday and we have another guitarist coming in so I might get an opportunity to just work on only vocals.

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    Without much practice, I sang with the band while trying to play again last night. Wasn't good. However, towards the end of our session, the drummer and bassist started screwing around with a groove that sounded like "Feliz Navidad" so just to screw around with them I walked up to the mic and started belting out "I WANNA WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!" - I guess I found my range with that and the guys stopped and wanted to work on the real thing with me singing. It was really cool to be a vocalist for a change. Gonna have to work on this because it's incredibly satisfying.

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    I never thought this is something I would say, but I can sing and play at the same time now.

    I was playing last night and started singing without thinking about it and probably for exactly that reason, it worked.

    I think a lot of it was that I was playing a song I can play without any thought whatsoever, Uncle Tupelo's "No Depression" so for once that "what do I sing when I strum what?" that always prevents me from pulling it off wasn't a factor.

    From there I moved on to "Dead Flowers." It worked again.

    I was afraid to go to sleep last night thinking the magic would wear off.

    I picked up a guitar a few minutes ago and I was able to sing Tom Petty's "Walls (Circus)" along with my playing.

    I still think it's a magic trick and I don't know how I'm doing it, but I'm doing it and it's quite rewarding, despite hating the sound of my own voice.
    "I happen to have perfect situational awareness, Lana. Which cannot be taught, by the way. Like a poet's ... mind for ... to make the perfect words." - Sterling Archer

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    Quote Originally Posted by R_of_G View Post
    I think a lot of it was that I was playing a song I can play without any thought whatsoever, Uncle Tupelo's "No Depression" so for once that "what do I sing when I strum what?" that always prevents me from pulling it off wasn't a factor.
    I love that song. I wish I could play it the way Jay Farrar does. Maybe someday I'll get back into the acoustic and try to work on it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Spudman
    Does anyone read the original post?
    Guitars: Gibson LP Studio, MIA Fender Precision, Carvin C350
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    I love that song. I wish I could play it the way Jay Farrar does. Maybe someday I'll get back into the acoustic and try to work on it.
    Yeah, I can't play it like Farrar, let alone sing it like him, but I can strum it out pretty steadily and can conceivably eventually learn to pick it out correctly. It's a nice one to remember as the first one I could sing. Seems about right with where my music listening is these days.
    "I happen to have perfect situational awareness, Lana. Which cannot be taught, by the way. Like a poet's ... mind for ... to make the perfect words." - Sterling Archer

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    The funny thing is that when you get used to always singing and playing and it becomes the norm, it may start feeling awkward or strange not to do that.

    I have a terrible memory; I hardly ever remember the names of people I deal with on daily basis even - I've been working in the same place on and off for over ten years, the last three with tenure, and I don't remember the names of half my colleagues I meet every day, let alone my students.

    Perhaps for that reason, I often find I don't remember how to play a given song, unless I sing it too. I have said this before, but in the late 90's I was in this band that played gigs up to 2-3 times a week at best, and for over a year we never practiced, or I never played at home, only played gigs...and once I did bring home the guitar and tried to 'rehearse' our songs...and I had no clue how do I play them. I had to stand up and look away from the guitar and imagine how the drummer counts in and get ready for the vocal, and my hands remembered the song quite OK, but if I looked at the neck I got lost how to play it. It took me all day to be able to passably play the songs with guitar only, but then I think I still today remember the songs & how they are played.

    Usually, I have maybe 20 songs I remember right now, almost all for my live band, but as I - if I play the guitar, which may happen once a week or so - usually always come up with one or two new songs - they tend to fade away from memory as new ideas push to the surface. It's both a blessing and a curse - in one way it is nice, because it means that, like the last session I had with one band of mine, we only play once a year and that too while drunk - I made 5 songs for the band the night before the practice, and now they are just awaiting to be finalized and recorded. Well one of the songs was too much hit material - basically an 'axis of awesome' song I realized, although played with a capo and not instantly recognized as one - but anyway way too hit-oriented for my taste. Songs can't sound too commercial, or if they do, I always insert some horrible sounding part or something to make it less hit-like, because if I dislike some brand of music, it's the Top-40 stuff that reeks of planned commercialism.
    Dee

    "When life's a biatch, be a horny dog"

    Amps: Marshall JVM 410H w/ Plexi Cap mod, Choke Mod & Negative Feedback Removal mod, 4x12", Behringer GMX110, Amplitube 3/StealthPedal

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    Now I find myself running through every three chord song I ever learned when I first picked up a guitar to see if I can sing along. I suppose this new skill is my holiday present to myself. It's a Festivus miracle!
    "I happen to have perfect situational awareness, Lana. Which cannot be taught, by the way. Like a poet's ... mind for ... to make the perfect words." - Sterling Archer

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    Quote Originally Posted by R_of_G View Post
    Now I find myself running through every three chord song I ever learned when I first picked up a guitar to see if I can sing along. I suppose this new skill is my holiday present to myself. It's a Festivus miracle!
    A Festivus for the rest of us!

    I started being able to do sing with some simple power chord progressions but nothing as savantish as your abilities.

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    Glacies, whatever you do, don't try to chew gum at the same time - you'll self-destruct. I'm not a savant - just an idiot who can sing and play at the same time. Sometime in the future, I guarantee you'll look back on this and think, "What was the big deal?".

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    I've discovered that my brain always prioritizes my guitar playing duties over my singing duties. If the guitar part is unfamiliar to me, I always mess up the words in an embarrassing way (which explains how my brain is wired). However, over the years I've discovered that I can get a lot more gigs if I sing more and help with harmonies. With the budgets for live music being less than they were, a lot of places aren't willing to pay as much for a live band anymore. So working bands are always looking for people who can cover more things to make the money go further. One of the best things you can get, to be more valuable as a background singer, is a harmonizer pedal that works with your guitar, allowing you to create great harmonies with only your one voice.

    I had to spend some time getting better and playing and singing at the same time, when I started to do more of these kinds of gigs. Here is what worked for me to improve on this:

    The key thing for me was to work out the phrasing with my singing so that I could work out my right-hand-strumming pattern to go with my singing. It helps if you play the song very slowly and pay attention to where your guitar accents need to happen relative to the words you're singing. Once you are able to identify those accent points, and where they land in your lyrics, then you can more easily keep your rhythm going while singing, since you are more aware of how the two go together.

    Then, practice the song slowly so that you can keep that rhythm part going on your guitar while you phrase the words you are singing. Some songs are much easier than others, to the point where you don't have to concentrate that hard. But other songs take more work if the guitar part is more syncopated and not so regular.

    --Jim
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    Just to add to this thread ... one of the most incredible displays of someone who could play and sing together to the point of a highly-developed skill was Sting! I saw The Police in their heyday during their "Ghost in the Machine" tour during the 80s. Sting was playing the bass part to the song "Spirits In the Material World" and also dancing around on the stage while he was singing the the lead vocal. It sounded awesome and his bass part was spot on. I didn't realize how difficult this surely was until I'd learned the guitar and bass part a few years later. It was hard enough to do that part without having to do any singing at all. I couldn't believe that someone could play that bass part and sing at the same time.

    --Jim
    Electrics: Hamer Newport, Fender Clapton Strat, Ibanez AF86, Line6 Variax 700
    Acoustic Guitars: Taylor 514CE, Martin J40-M
    Dobro: Regal "Black Lightning Dobro"
    Mandolin: Morgan Monroe Mandolin
    Amps: Egnater Rebel 30, Vox AD120VTX, Roland Cube 60
    http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page...?bandid=301718

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