If you are an actual singer/vocalists, this article is not about you. It will become evident by the time you get to the end if you are or not. I’m not really trying to call anybody out.
But if the shoe fits…
There is a condition for some local bands that I want to address. There are no real ‘vocalists’ or ‘singers’; only guitarists who ‘try-their-best’.
Damn that sounded salty. But let me explain…
There are multiple ways people listen to music.
- Inwardly. The listener absorbs the music. Happy music makes them feel happy; angry music makes them feel angry.
- Outwardly. The listener uses music to mirror their current mood. Releasing angry feelings with the angry music can empty negative feelings with the help of the music. It seems strange to some how some people can listen to such aggressive, angry music, yet feel so calm and happy. This is one example of how listening to angry music can be therapeutic to some.
- Some focus on rhythm. Dancing. Dancing. Dancing.
- Some focus on melody. Other focus on lyrics. etc blah blah
As a bass guitar player, I am trained to listen for the bass, and how it pairs with both the rhythm of the drums and the melody. Its basically the bridge between the two. But I actually do not focus much on vocal melody or even lead guitar. My primary focus is linking drums with rhythm guitar.
Most people are not like me. Most people probably hear the singer/vocalist first and hear instrumentals in the background. That is usually a ‘listeners’ main focus.
As a song writer, I understand that (most of the time,) the way the song is evolving as it is being written, there will likely never be a bass solo. That is okay. I’m trying to write a song, not stroke my ego and show off. (However, I do like to write some tasty bass lines. I gotta spice it up sometimes.) Sometimes, what you want to do and what is best for the song, are at odds with another.
A lot of guitarists are also the singer, but not because they are best at singing. It’s more like they are a guitarists first, and a vocalists second. I mean, that makes sense. That’s how most of us learn from our teachers at lessons. They focus guitar technique as primary, and kind of drop the ball when it comes to singing. As the student moves on, he or she now has a habit of focusing primarily on guitar and just winging-it when it comes to vocals.
When getting started and creating a band, there are two ways this typically goes down:
- Not a lot of people specialize in [different styles of] singing, therefore there is not much options for finding one locally. So we’ll make due with what they have. Maybe look for something better in the future so the band can progress farther to be more successful. So in the meantime, “let’s let the guitarist do it.”
- Ego comes into play. “It’s my band, I write the guitar riffs, I should get to sing, so I get all the credit!” “It is MY ART after all.” “Either I make it successful, or I quit.“
Because the majority of your audience will likely listen to singer/vocalists as a primary, this will become a problem quickly. It will stall the band and prevent them from getting bigger. I want to help local bands progress as much as possible.
Rhythm and melody are important in song structure, but you need a strong singer to make it to radio. There are only a handful of exceptions to this. (I.E. Bob Dylan) Maybe the guitarist / singer is 70% guitarists and 30% singer? (
more like 90 / 10) Maybe they listen to music the same way I do and listen to instrumentals in front and vocals in the background?
You know, there is nothing wrong with being an instrumental band or trying out other singer/vocalists; unless of course, your pride won’t allow you… or maybe you did try, and couldn’t find anyone better.
Or another likely possibility is that adding another band member to sing, means adding their musical preferences as well. If you are not on the same page style/genre-wise, it may make the song-writing process more difficult. Band members may become more complacent as their needs are ignored in the band. Then they break up.
Anyway, for singers and vocalists, I feel like there should be more of a focus on finding a catchy melody or finding meaningful lyrics. If you played your vocal melody on a piano or guitar, you would see what I mean. They are boring AF. Stop being lazy! Put more focus on your vocals. Step up your game!
How many guitar effect pedals do you use live? How many vocal pedals / processors do you use? What vocal effects, if any, would you like to use?
How much money did you spend on your guitar? How much money did you spend on your microphone?
Assumingly you took guitar lessons at some point. How long did you take guitar lessons? How long did you take vocal lessons?
Either they are unable to or refuse to put the necessary focus on vocals. Or perhaps they are unwilling to relinquish or divide control of their band.
If this article has described you and it makes you angry, then there are some things you can do to help move your band forward and to the next level:
- Get Vocal lessons [Invest in vocal training]. [Cater your training to the style or styles you plan to sing in.] It doesn’t matter what genre. There are techniques for breath control and learning how to project. Even screamers need to learn the ‘correct’ way to scream without seriously damaging your voice.
- Do vocal warm-ups before practice and shows for peak performance and to avoid damaging vocal chords. (do not over-warm up)
- Invest in quality gear. Take consideration of the fact that quality materials help produce quality content. You won’t want to play on a $30 guitar out of a $30 amp. Why would you want to sing out of a $30 mic with no effects? I know it can be expensive, but the biggest problem I see has nothing to do with money. Vocals need to be a priority. Most of the time, they are taking a backseat to something else.
- Make the vocal part more prominent to the song writing process. Give the main important melody to the singer, and let the guitar part support it. Or if the singing is not that good, then own it, and give the melody to another instrument.
- Consider becoming an instrumental band. I’ve seen some people get really interested in a band’s music, and immediately lose interest once they hear the singing. Don’t let that happen to you.