death metal vocals while playing guitar

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by DarkInsanity, Dec 11, 2017.

  1. DarkInsanity

    DarkInsanity SS.org Regular

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    Hello,
    I am currently learning to do death metal vocals while playing guitar because I want to do this in a band.
    The song 'lack of comprehension' by death was not very difficult in that regard because the timing of the vocals feels very natural with the guitar riffs.
    However, 'crystal mountain' is completely different. There are parts where it's pretty much impossible to allign any syllables with guitar notes. No matter how hard I try, I can't get myself to perform guitar and vocals at the same time without messing up the timing of atleast one of them.
    Are there any tricks to make this easier or do I need to grow a second brain?
     
  2. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I've been dying to do a cover of Crystal Mountain (one of my top three Death songs), but I, too, ran into the same problem. The song gives you a false sense of security, in that the most difficult guitar parts are isolated from the vocal parts, but the syncopation even between the rather easy clean guitar parts and vocals in the passage: "Conjuring power - it opens wide, on your seventh day," or "to assume from ignorance, inflicting wounds from a cross turned dagger." The italic parts are just difficult. There's no trick, really, of which I ever heard helped. Just about every other part of the song with vocals is also very difficult to sing and play.

    I've done lead vocals and guitar in cover bands for years, even doing plenty of songs that people don't typically sing and play (z.B. Arch Enemy), and I did the same in my modern metal band Khereb and now with Bostjan Zupancic: MicroMetal; singing and playing is not a very typical problem for me, but pretty much any song from Death is just incredibly difficult to master. ...and this particular song has been a thorn in my side. :lol:

    The best I can do is to practice the guitar part until I can do it in my sleep, then practice the vocal part until I can do that in my sleep, then practice the two together until I'm able to completely ignore what my hands are doing.

    It's like breathing the air. If you don't ever think about it, it's much easier. As soon as you focus on what you are doing, it stops being automatic.

    I hope that helps. It might sound discouraging, but really, if you practice enough, I think it will eventually work, and, IMO, if you can pull of Crystal Mountain, you'll be able to pull off almost anything.
     
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  3. DarkInsanity

    DarkInsanity SS.org Regular

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    Wow, it's actually a bit relieving to hear that the song just is that hard. I guess I will just keep playing the guitar parts until they take close to 0 attention and then focus my mind on the vocals. Thanks!
     
  4. Semi-pro

    Semi-pro SS.org Regular

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    After many years of wanting to be like Papa Het, but being intimidated of the motoric challenge playing/singing at the same time, some years ago I decided to dive head first into the whole thing. Figuring out the most effective way of learning the parts made me feel confident in learning whatever comes my way. Here's what works for me (hopefully for you too!):

    1. Practice slowly and in bits. Usually one phrase or bar at a time, often even just one beat at a time! Most phrases have that one difficult part, which usually is gone in the blink of an eye, but gives the illusion that the whole verse is difficult. They usually last only 1-2 beats, and that's where you want to put your focus. Zoom into it! For instance, the vocals might do a syncopated thing, while the picking hand is doing a straight galloping. Then you'll just have to figure out how they interact in each beat at a time because it'll wary from beat to beat.

    2. Find common accents. Divide the tricky parts in 16th notes. Vocals and riff separately. Then see if there are syllables that land exactly on a specific down or upstroke. Use them to guide you through the whole phrase. Think of your mouth as a 5th limb ( :lol: ) and see in which order each note or word appears: upstroke, hammer-on, downstroke and a syllable at the same time, another syllable while hands do nothing, downstroke, etc...

    3. Stomp your foot! Practice only the vocal line while stomping your foot on a steady rhythm. Then do the same with only playing the riff. Keep doing this whey you try vocals and playing at the same time. Keep stomping even when practicing just 1-2 beat bits. This is crucial in order to make progress much easier! The point in stomping your foot is to "plant" the rhythm in your body. When your vocals and the riffs are individually locked to the beat, it'll be much easier to switch your focus from one to another while doing them both at the same time. If you don't do it, the vocals and playing will be only relying on each other, which both are bound to be flaky references if you're having trouble doing them at the same time in the first place!

    I'll see if I've got time to check out Crystal Mountain and give more specific tips! :)

    Here's a 2 year old vid of me doing the heavy parts of Textures' Awake for the first time. After learning that song I stopped worrying about the vocal arrangements over my own riffs while writing :)
    https://scontent-arn2-1.cdninstagra...86-16/11235564_471928832982125_48378877_n.mp4
     
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  5. DarkInsanity

    DarkInsanity SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the reply. I think the second point was extremely helpful. I worked out the timing of the syllables for the most difficult part (inflicting wounds with your cross-turned dagger) and wrote everything down on a sheet (see picture). For the first time I feel like I'm making progress. I almost got the first half of the part down, at a slower tempo and speaking instead of growling, but it's giving me hope :E
     

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  6. Dayn

    Dayn silly person

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    There's been some good advice so far. "Practice, practice, practice" is so far the only way to really do so.

    It's really a matter of performing independent lines simultaneously. It's one thing to do them separately. You can nail the guitar part, you can nail the vocals - but you'll absolutely stumble combining them together. Playing and singing together is a completely different skill to playing and singing separately. Which does unfortunately involve starting at square one and just doing the damn thing.

    A couple of things helped me. Branching into piano and touchstyle helped me develop a more independent approach to musical lines. But also, simply playing a variety of music. Some sung music with strummed chords can be absolute hell trying to nail the strumming pattern while singing. I'd recommend branching out into other music and just trying to sing and play a lot of 'easy' stuff. The goal there is to build independence between your hands and voice, which will make it easier to tackle harder songs.
     
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  7. Element0s

    Element0s Low Fantasy/Black Denim

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    All three of these points are great and I would strongly suggest that the OP looks at all these elements. I wouldn't recommend spending too much time doing things separately because having each thing perfect separately is a very different beast than having it perfected together. Practice how you plan to perform. You're much better off taking individual phrases, measures or sections of measures that are difficult and isolating them.

    Stomping your foot helps because it anchors the rhythms of each instrument to the main pulse of the song. If you know where the riffs and vocal accent are in relation to the main beat, it will become much easier to "feel" where everything goes.

    Also, it'd be worth practicing the song without looking at your hands once you get more comfortable with the vocals. It'll add a lot to the performance and will really internalize the song.
     
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