Singing While Playing Guitar?

IsaacIsaac Posts: 3,088
edited December 1969 in Songwriting
I find that most of the bands that I'm gravitating to towards lately have been bands with harmonies in the vocal, it just gives it a cool, textured vibe to the songs that I love. I want to start writing songs with more harmonies. I've got one that I've written that has a harmony bit at the end that I can do, but it's dirt simple. I'm trying to learn Saigon Kicks Love Is On The Way to see if I can get the hang of playing and singing.

How many of you guys here can play and sing? Did it dome naturally, or did you work at it? And lastly, and tips/good songs to start trying out for singing and playing?

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Comments

  • It's a fucking tough thing to do, But it actually depends on the difficulty of the playing and the singing as each and specially in the rythymic indepedence of each part. Try  playing and singing the Rock you Like a Hurracaine chorus, the riff and the melody have completely contradictive rythyms to do at the same time. It's kinda like when a drummers has to develop independence for each leg and arm.
    For me the best thing has been to play the guitar part until I can play it in my sleep, so I can concentrate then on the singing which is  the most difficult for me.
  • JoebuddhaJoebuddha Posts: 2,108
    When I was first working on this many years ago I would speak the words quietly to myself as I was learning the song.
    Then I would increase the speed and volume as I got it down. I remember one time I was trying to play Jailbreak while singing and it was super tough so I practiced to a metronome for a few days until I got it down.
  • BreakfastimeBreakfastime Posts: 2,152
    I can sing and play guitar simultaneously.  It's just that my singing sucks.

    What freaks me out is Hendrix, beck, those guys who chew gum and play guitar.  I'd wind up choking!
  • maybeyesmaybeyes Posts: 4,522
    I have always found I need to learn the chords to the song and rhythm so it is second nature then I can start to sing.  It is not a quick easy thing, but sooner or later you get it down and then it all seems to come easier each time.

    Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.

  • yngwie666yngwie666 Posts: 6,551
    I would love to just be able to sing...
    At least I can train my fingers to play guitar but even with a vocal coach I would never sound like Coverdale.
  • IsaacIsaac Posts: 3,088
    [quote author=yngwie666 link=topic=11575.msg175329#msg175329 date=1295128345]
    I would love to just be able to sing...
    At least I can train my fingers to play guitar but even with a vocal coach I would never sound like Coverdale.
    [/quote]

    Haha yeah. You've either got the timbre or you don't. You can't teach rasp. I've got a good enough voice to keep in tune, that's about it. My speaking voice is pretty low, so it limits the things I can sing even more.
  • I've come to the conclusion that you have to have one of those two things-- either the guitar playing or the singing part-- down so pat that you can do it perfectly without thinking about it.

    It probably does come easier to some people than others.  I wouldn't feel bad if it doesn't come easy to you. 
  • yngwie666yngwie666 Posts: 6,551
    [quote author=Isaac link=topic=11575.msg175341#msg175341 date=1295138445]
    [quote author=yngwie666 link=topic=11575.msg175329#msg175329 date=1295128345]
    I would love to just be able to sing...
    At least I can train my fingers to play guitar but even with a vocal coach I would never sound like Coverdale.
    [/quote]
    Yeah if I do a long presentation or a training at work my voice is toasted in the evening...
    Haha yeah. You've either got the timbre or you don't. You can't teach rasp. I've got a good enough voice to keep in tune, that's about it. My speaking voice is pretty low, so it limits the things I can sing even more.
    [/quote]
  • Dr NickDr Nick Posts: 3,556
    Age doesn't help either - my range is dropping. I used to be able to hit an F#-G in falsetto, now I can only get an E.
    I can just about make it to an A in "head" voice.
    But I can go as low as you like...

    Basically, you have to practice. Strumming and singing is different to playing a riff and singing, which is different to trying to play lead and singing. The first is by far the easiest, at least for me, because you can adapt the strum to go with the punctuation of the vocal. Whereas a fixed riff is harder. Try singing and playing "You Really Got Me", you'll see what I mean.

    Someone like Matthew Sweet from Stryper is unbelievable - possibly the better of the 2 guitarists, and he riffs away whilst singing in canine octaves that only Glenn Hughes can match.
    Mind you, playing bass and singing ain't no picnic either.
  • maybeyesmaybeyes Posts: 4,522
    I have been doing some just me and acoustic services lately and let me tell you that if you do not have a team behind you it can be real torture to try to get the right rhythm sinked with the vocals.  With only an acoustic you become the backbeat so your rhythm may not match your voice as rhythmically.

    Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.

  • gqn_angelgqn_angel Posts: 1,302
    It was an excruciating process for me learning how to sing and play guitar at once (had to do this while I was in a wedding band that played covers), but I can do it now.  Poison, WS, Eagles, Beatles, Elvis, 80's AOR, country music, etc--no problem.  Megadeth, Dream Theater, most Queensryche and more technical or "proggy" stuff I still cannot do.  Even a more "simple" Megadeth song like Trust is a bitch to nail down because of its syncopation.

    First off, you need to get your guitar parts down pat.  Then, like Joe said, try talking over what you're playing...even very slowly at first until you "get" where each word or key words fit over your guitar chords, arpeggios or rhythm parts.  Next step is to attempt singing slowly over the music your playing.  Keep doing this until you can build up to decent tempos.

    I would recommend something relatively simple guitar-wise.  Here I Go Again was a good song for me to learn to sing over.  As far as honing how harmony vocals fit in with the melody and guitar, Smoke On The Water is an excellent song to work at with you and another bandmate--the rhythm guitar is dirt simple and as long as you can get the syncopation down while singing, figure out the melody/harmony vocal parts for the chorus.

    Los Lonely Boys is another good band to learn how to play guitar and sing melody and harmony over.
  • inmyhandsinmyhands Posts: 11,591
    I think a lot of this has to do with why you first picked up the guitar in the first place. I started playing to provide a back round for songs I'd written. All rhythm at first, but, as lead guitar became more and more interesting, I went that direction as well.

    If I'd been originally enamored by the instrument and then tried to add vocals further down the line I think it would have been a hell of a lot harder.
  • Seven MoonsSeven Moons Posts: 8,701
    I just can't sing, anyway I have a shitty voice. I hate hearing recordings of my voice.  Moreover I have poor coordination skills, so I can barely speak when I play  :rolleyes:

    In my twenties, I used to be able to sing silly stuff while playing 12-bar blues when I was drunk, though. Parties with friends always ended up like that.

    For whatever reason, my voice is now fucked up more than it was at that time, and I'm not often drunk.  So I just stick to my crappy playing. That's better than nothing  :ohwell:
  • maybeyesmaybeyes Posts: 4,522
    [quote author=inmyhands link=topic=11575.msg175556#msg175556 date=1295393059]
    I think a lot of this has to do with why you first picked up the guitar in the first place. I started playing to provide a back round for songs I'd written. All rhythm at first, but, as lead guitar became more and more interesting, I went that direction as well.

    If I'd been originally enamored by the instrument and then tried to add vocals further down the line I think it would have been a hell of a lot harder.
    [/quote]

    I hadn't thought of this Rick, but now that you have made the comment I had a similar experience.  At first I thought I would be the guitarist and that would be it, but not finding anyone willing to sing, I took it up and here I am.  Most of my stuff is written with my voice in mind and as a result probably sounds best when I sing it.  The whole process seems to be a lot easier with that perspective in mind.

    Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.

  • I also originally started playing guitar to make songs, I learned chords and wrote lyrics etc. But soon the lead guitar stuff took over and I stopped singing for many years(never had a good voice). Now I have played in many bands, guitar and bass, sometimes singing backing vox and sometimes main vocals. I have been forced to do vocals cause nobody else wants to do it and we haven't found a decent vocalist. For me it's way easier to sing playing the guitar than playing bass. With sometimes complicated, syncopated bass lines it's really hard to sing stuff that has different rhythm than the instrumental lines. While playing guitar, depending on the songs of course, I can strum some chords and focus on the vocals better. Just last week I had difficulties when I tried to sing Albert Kings Born Under A Bad Sign, because you have to play the rhytmic pattern on guitar while singing. 

    What is really fun to try is to sing the lead lines while playing, a'la George Benson, Frank Marino etc.
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