Should I criticise my singer

irish_steve

Junior Member
I'm in a 3-piece covers band, and the bass player is our primary singer.
I feel a covers band needs a singer with a decent range and he just doesn't cut it.

He can go plenty low, but can't really project his voice higher than a C5 (one C above middle C on a piano), so we we keep having to drastically change the keys of songs to make them work, or else he will sing them in the original key an octave down which sounds terrible.

This is bumming me out a lot, and I'm thinking of leaving the band over it, as it's not something that he can easily change (though he doesn't practice singing outside of band rehearsals) I'm not very good at confrontation in a band environment.

I think I've decided to leave, do you reckon I should voice my concerns and see how he reacts, or just leave without citing a reason?
We aren't friends as such, we just all responded to an ad the guitarist placed trying to create a band, I guess you'd call it a "hobby band" we practice weekly and do the occasional unpaid gig.

The only other suggestions I have is to tell the band I think we need another singer with a higher range so we don't have to rule out so many songs based on the voice range.

Or I could ask him to stick to the bass but we need a proper singer (we are a 3 piece so another member wouldn't be a big deal)


Appreciate your comments or suggestions.
 

T.Underhill

Pioneer Member
You can be honest about it, like saying you'd prefer to have the songs sound more like the original without adjusting keys and vocal octaves. Or just say you aren't feeling it. Because this is more of a hobby and you aren't friends, move on. Months from now you won't be concerned about it and they would've moved on as well.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Since you're a hobby band playing for no pay, maybe suggest transitioning to becoming an originals band. There are tons of great singers with limited range. Play to your strengths.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
Since it's a "hobby band" and you aren't worried about pay, find a singer that can sing the range and maybe play an extra instrument as well.

Cover bands change keys all the time. It's no biggie to the audience, but it's torture to me because it tilts my whole world. I feel ya, and if the range of the song isn't "pushing" the singers voice when it needs to, the performance lacks energy.

If it's a hobby band, do what makes you happy, whether that's gracefully leave the group, discuss your concern with the singer, or find a new singer. Good luck!
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
If its bad enough that you're going to leave, you should try and fx it. If that ends badly, leave, not much difference.
 

Drumolator

Platinum Member
Although finding a good singer who is dependable is difficult, that is what I would try to do. If he/she can also play an instrument, that is also a plus. Good luck.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I heard last night that the main reason people don't tell the truth about someone else is that they are afraid of losing friends. Is this the case? If not, tell the bass player that his voice is not suitable and that you need a singer. See what happens.
 
T

The SunDog

Guest
If its bad enough that you're going to leave, you should try and fx it. If that ends badly, leave, not much difference.
Good advice Dre. I'll take another tact and tell you that this is as much your fault as anyone else. If you know your singer sounds like Bob Dylan and you keep suggesting Queensryche songs then what kind of results would you expect. Also to continue doing this and expect different results is the definition of insanity. You must chose a set based around your strengths, especially the strengths of the singer. Back to Dre's point, don't passively cause the failure of the band. People use passive tactics in order to avoid blame, ie: "we were a good band but we couldn't get booked because of the singer". The reality is YOU have the opportunity to effect your situation, to chose material that the singer does well or chose another singer entirely. Be honest about what you need in order to be happy, anything less would be a disservice to yourself and to the others you work with.
 

MileHighDrummer

Senior Member
Let's see - you're playing in a "fun" band. No pay, so no loss of revenue or status. So, relax and have "fun". OR If you're going to stay, try to help the band find another singer so the bass player can play. If you're planning on leaving anyway leave them to what they feel is fine. For me, criticism MUST be accompanied by a serious solution or suggestion for finding one - not simply exercising one's desire to vent. So, if you can do better, or have someone who is willing to step in and do better - and you're staying - go for it. Otherwise, find a band that fits your needs better.
 

FreDrummer

Silver Member
My situation isn't quite as desperate, but similar. Our singer (and second guitarist) sings well, and has an OK range, but let's face it, not many 57 year olds are going to be able to hit the notes found on so many classic rock recordings. We added a female singer to do some of these tunes, but it also opened up a whole new catalogue for us, as well. If you decide to stay, try to put it in positive terms -- the extra songs you could now cover, as well as the ability to have backup vocals and harmonies, too.
 

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
Sounds like you may be a little jealous he can sing (or is at least trying) and you can't.



I think I've decided to leave, do you reckon I should voice my concerns and see how he reacts, or just leave without citing a reason?
What's the point here, he's doing the best he can, or cares too. Start singing yourself maybe.



The only other suggestions I have is to tell the band I think we need another singer with a higher range so we don't have to rule out so many songs based on the voice range.

Or I could ask him to stick to the bass but we need a proper singer (we are a 3 piece so another member wouldn't be a big deal)


Probably your best option, as in include the other members, get their opinion. Don't use the word 'think' tho, as in "I think", you need to sound sure of yourself, convinced.

Bass player might even say "Bloody ell, I'd love to have another singer, trying to do everything myself is killing me!"
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
Hell, C5 aint bad. He should be able to sing a LOT of stuff.

(Unless the "middle" C on my keyboard isn't actually a middle C....which it is. On a 49 key instrument, they leave off the lower octave and the two higher ones. Thanks again Google!)

Can you record some stuff and have him listen? Sometimes that is an eye opener.

And, don't criticize him, but you can certainly voice your concerns in a tactful manner.
 
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Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
The only other suggestions I have is to tell the band I think we need another singer with a higher range so we don't have to rule out so many songs based on the voice range.
Dunno why this wouldn't be your first option, to be honest. It'd certainly be mine......at least it would if I was enjoying the gig as a whole.

If that draws a blank, then I'd think about leaving.
 

mymarkers

Senior Member
A 3-piece band whose singer has a low voice? Just quit shaving and learn to play the blues.

On one hand, it's a hobby band so you probably shouldn't do it unless you enjoy it. On the other hand, it's a hobby band, so what's the big deal? Does he even want to sing? Or is he just doing it because the other two of you won't?

Remember, that good singer you're hoping to play with wants to play with an experienced drummer. If he's looking for a drummer, the first question he'll ask is, "What bands have you played in?" If you answer, "I just jam at home to my favorite songs" he won't ask another question. At a bare minimum, all of you are getting experience out of this. For example, that good singer you want probably wants a drummer who knows how to tactfully handle a situation like this instead of just quitting.
 

Nancy_C

Senior Member
A couple of years ago, an earlier iteration of the band I'm in had a terrible singer. He was a great front man in the sense of having the attitude, presence, and moves, and occasionally sang OK, but he was often absurdly far off-key to the point where I'd swear I could hear the birds thumping on the roof as they fell out of the sky.

One day at practice, after yet another disastrous attempt to get through "The Trooper," I said, "Fred (not his real name), you seem to be struggling to hit the high notes, as so many people do with that song. A friend of mine is a music teacher who might be able to help you with that -- teach you some breathing techniques or whatever, so you don't damage your voice."

(This was only partly true -- the guy couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, and neither can I, but I'm not so egotistical as to keep plowing through songs while those around me are diving for cover. This was a step toward what I hoped would be an outside party helping him to realize he had no business singing lullabies to his kids, let alone belting out classic hard-rock and heavy metal songs before dozens -- or potentially hundreds -- of paying audience members.)

This approach worked well as far as not offending him, making it sound sympathetic, assuring him that it's a common problem (whether true or not), and offering a solution. Unfortunately, a few days later, a long-simmering conflict between Fred and two of the other band members exploded into a nearly physical altercation, and we fired him.

If you can approach your bass player sympathetically, expressing the understanding that "it's so difficult to sing a lead part while holding up his end of the rhythm section" or something like that, and maybe add something about how you've noticed how awesome his riffs are when he's not bogged down with the vocal parts, maybe you could avoid getting into the wholly honest "Dude, you suck" aspect of it.

Perhaps you also could emphasize the value of a front man/woman who can really focus on singing and engaging the audience, which would free him up to play the way he does on that part of such-and-so song where his playing really shines because hes not distracted by having to sing.

Side note: Fred was and is an excellent rock/metal drummer who had toured in Japan and elsewhere with his previous band. They fired him because he's difficult to get along with, and replaced him with an even better drummer who later turned out to be my drum teacher. Small world.)

This turned out much longer than intended, sorry! Anyway, hope you're able to work it out.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
First, congratulations to the OP on excellent lurking. With approx 3 posts per annum, this is clearly a Big Deal to Irish Steve.

Steve, you're fortunate it's only the singer's voice that you need to worry about.

Here's my band:

The bass player only started playing bass so she could join.

The lead guitarist seldom practices anything.

The rhythm guitarist doesn't hear when hits a wildly off chord...I recently had to explain why it is that while you can often get by with playing the major version of a chord when the 7th is called for, you can't substitute (say) B for B-flat.

The drummer (yes, that'd be me) regularly simplifies drum parts instead of playing what's on the recording. When the male singer can't make it to a sesh, the drummer takes the mic. Think Robert Zimmerman but without the vocal dynamism.

The male singer is fine, if he hits the first note on the song. If he misses the first note, we can play to the end of the song without him finding the note.

The female singer can acshly sing, but is reticent to push herself to the front, so she mostly harmonises.

And now for the weird bit:
When we get together to play, which is usually every other weekend...we have an absolute blast.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
First, congratulations to the OP on excellent lurking. With approx 3 posts per annum, this is clearly a Big Deal to Irish Steve.
Hilarious post.
Funny, I did not know we had this feature, or did you simply do the math?

To the OP. Its simple, if you like and want to stay in the band, stay in the band. If you want to improve the band, then contribute your opinion and make the band better. If the band does not like your opinion, you know what to do.

My guess is ,as above, the singer would prefer to not push himself out of range anyway.
 
M

Mike_In_KC

Guest
A couple of years ago, an earlier iteration of the band I'm in had a terrible singer. He was a great front man in the sense of having the attitude, presence, and moves, and occasionally sang OK, but he was often absurdly far off-key to the point where I'd swear I could hear the birds thumping on the roof as they fell out of the sky.

One day at practice, after yet another disastrous attempt to get through "The Trooper," I said, "Fred (not his real name), you seem to be struggling to hit the high notes, as so many people do with that song. A friend of mine is a music teacher who might be able to help you with that -- teach you some breathing techniques or whatever, so you don't damage your voice."

(This was only partly true -- the guy couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, and neither can I, but I'm not so egotistical as to keep plowing through songs while those around me are diving for cover. This was a step toward what I hoped would be an outside party helping him to realize he had no business singing lullabies to his kids, let alone belting out classic hard-rock and heavy metal songs before dozens -- or potentially hundreds -- of paying audience members.)

This approach worked well as far as not offending him, making it sound sympathetic, assuring him that it's a common problem (whether true or not), and offering a solution. Unfortunately, a few days later, a long-simmering conflict between Fred and two of the other band members exploded into a nearly physical altercation, and we fired him.

If you can approach your bass player sympathetically, expressing the understanding that "it's so difficult to sing a lead part while holding up his end of the rhythm section" or something like that, and maybe add something about how you've noticed how awesome his riffs are when he's not bogged down with the vocal parts, maybe you could avoid getting into the wholly honest "Dude, you suck" aspect of it.

Perhaps you also could emphasize the value of a front man/woman who can really focus on singing and engaging the audience, which would free him up to play the way he does on that part of such-and-so song where his playing really shines because hes not distracted by having to sing.

Side note: Fred was and is an excellent rock/metal drummer who had toured in Japan and elsewhere with his previous band. They fired him because he's difficult to get along with, and replaced him with an even better drummer who later turned out to be my drum teacher. Small world.)
This turned out much longer than intended, sorry! Anyway, hope you're able to work it out.
Excellent post and so well stated Nancy. It reminds me of my golfing days when I played in an after-work 9 hole league. One of the league members was a terribly slow player - I should add he was terrible and terribly slow. Golf accommodates players of all skills - as long as a hacker plays relatively fast he or she will not get in the way of a better player. Bob I will call him used to stand over the ball for what seemed like minutes before he would take a rip. One day while early in our round I mentioned to Bob how much better I was playing since I sped up my pre-shot routine. Sure enough Bob started playing faster and to make the story even better Bob became a better golfer! Sometime passive aggressive is the way to go!

MM
 

Nancy_C

Senior Member
Excellent post and so well stated Nancy. It reminds me of my golfing days when I played in an after-work 9 hole league. One of the league members was a terribly slow player - I should add he was terrible and terribly slow. Golf accommodates players of all skills - as long as a hacker plays relatively fast he or she will not get in the way of a better player. Bob I will call him used to stand over the ball for what seemed like minutes before he would take a rip. One day while early in our round I mentioned to Bob how much better I was playing since I sped up my pre-shot routine. Sure enough Bob started playing faster and to make the story even better Bob became a better golfer! Sometime passive aggressive is the way to go!

MM
*golf clap*

(Sorry, I had to! And thank you for the compliment on my rather long-winded reply to the OP.)
 
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