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Singing and Drumming


MC Nice Andrew
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I've recently got a covers band together and decided to try backing singing whilst drumming. Turns out it's hard than i thought.

Melodies that follow the straight beat are ok, but i find it difficult to concentrate and listen to my pitch and even some simple melodies throw everything off completely. For example, the 'Ohs' at the start of Kings of Leon's use somebody; the melody is straight forward, though the beat is slightly syncopated causing a compromise in concentration.

Anyone experienced anything like this or got any tips?

Ta!

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ive done signing and drumming for quite a few years now, what i have always done is learn the drums back to front first, so you get to the point that your not thinking about what your playing, then learn the vocals on their own, i only try and put it all together when im happy with each part individually. Positioning of the mic is also very important, you dont want to be turning your head around too much or anything that might take your focus away, even for a split second. I did used to use a head set mic, but lets all be honest, you can never look cool with a headset mic, although it was fantastic for singing and drumming, no need to think where the mic was at all made things so much easier.

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ive done signing and drumming for quite a few years now, what i have always done is learn the drums back to front first, so you get to the point that your not thinking about what your playing, then learn the vocals on their own, i only try and put it all together when im happy with each part individually. Positioning of the mic is also very important, you dont want to be turning your head around too much or anything that might take your focus away, even for a split second. I did used to use a head set mic, but lets all be honest, you can never look cool with a headset mic, although it was fantastic for singing and drumming, no need to think where the mic was at all made things so much easier.

cool thanks. As i don't have access to a headset mic, would you say it was best to have the mic as close to being in front of your face as possible? I do plan to swing it out of the way when i don't need it, save my temptation to try to sing along when harmonies are not needed.

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yeah i tend to do that myself, i have the mic high up so it comes down over my left shoulder, that way it doesnt get in the way of my arms at all, and you have practically have the mic right where your mouth is. It is also easy to push away when you dont need it, just make sure you have a good quality mic stand, i personally bought a very good mic stand because cheap ones were useless, they slip and fall over, the one i have now cost about £60 but it is sturdy as hell, never needs tightening or anything. You may also want to consider what kind of mic your using, you dont want it picking up too much of the drums if you can avoid it, with my cover band we bought a uni directional mic which basically only picks up sound from a straight angle, (or is suppose too anyway).

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oh and i still have the headset mic, if you want a trial of it you more than welcome.

Thanks man, That's a really nice gesture, it'd be very interesting to see how much easier it was. Unfortunately i live in dundee, so logistics are impractical, thanks all the same.

Yeah I have an AKG hyper cardiod that im using. would you say it'd be an idea to use earphone monitors as apposed to struggling to hearing yourself over everything else, mainly the initial sound of the drums? I think staying with in pitch with everything is going to be an issue, regardless of concentrating.

Also, i can sort of assume the clash in concentration is maybe primarily a psychological thing anyway, just like learning a new pattern or beat.

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No problem man i dont use it much anymore i actually now prefer the mic stand, but for learning to combine the both it was fantastic, as i say just the fact you didnt need to look for a mic ment your attention was always where it should have been.

Moniter wise i again have always preferred a standard montier, in ear ones take a bit of getting used to, and if your singing you need to make sure you have a good feed from either the guitars or the bass to keep yourself in key, personally i always preferred the bass, not only is great for keeping time its very good for helping you sing.

Yeah what you will find when you start off is your putting too much though into either part, because its new, the real trick like i say is learning the drum parts so well that you dont think about playing them, especially for anything with syncopated rythems or contrasting drum and vocal rythems. The kings of leon track you mention is a bit tricky, we gave it a bash a few times with the covers band but we never felt it sounded right on.

One thing i used to do was pick songs i knew vocally very well, and put drums ontop of them, rather than the other way around, it was good practice having the knowledge the other way around if you will.

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Thanks again. Currently I'm just using my electric kit, playing along to the songs through headphones with a mix of all three parts. I think it's definitely good advice to be 100% with your limbs before stick stuff over the top. I have a practice tomorrow night, if it's so far from being anywhere near good, I'll just get someone else in the band to learn it the rhythms that are too difficult. Or be a manager and get a drummer who can sing and play.

For some tracks that I've not even touched the kit with, I tried to write it all down in a linear format so i could see where the beat of each part related to one another, effectively treating my voice as another limb. Think in my head the theory worked for some bits, though I reckon it needs refining.

There is a few harmonies in the KOL song, the second which is a sustained note, though its that 3/2 cross rhythm the first hook employs. In theory should sync up with the drums, though the beats land within 16th of each other. I'm pretty sure the drummer in KOL sing that part as well. Bastard.

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Yeah if the limbs dont know where they are going then you'll struggle, it took me a good while to get into the swing of it so to speak.

Do you have a practise pad at all? What i found good was using that or my lap and just sit on my sofa with music on playing along on the beat and singing the songs, so not really playing the drums but still keeping the rythem going, then taking that onto the kit later on.

Take a few easy songs as well to get you going, with my cover band we did a lot of status quo and oasis stuff, simple on the drums mostly 4/4's and learn to sing over those beats, then move onto something a bit more complicated. One song that i think helped me a lot was "Sit Down" by James, bit of a meh song, but the drum rythem and vocals dont fall ontop of each other, i used to just keep the rythem going, kinda didum, ch,ch---ch kinda thing and try the vocals ontop, the rythem is easy but you need to keep it going and the vocals are quite easy as well.

With the set up you have you should get the hang of it, plenty of time to practise!! Im listen to the KOL song again, your right the snare hits are a weird timing with the harmonies i would get the vocals going with the snare hit and the vocals first, the right hand should then fall in line pretty easily.

Keep with it tho, there are not enough singing drummers!!

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