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I have this issue : lyrics overshadow the music for me.

I try playing Jammin from Bob Martley on bass, I'm (about) fine for the first two bars, at the first bar of lyrics I can feel my focus being pulled away, by the second bar I am now listening to what he says and everything flies out the window.

Anyone else with this problem? And any tip on how to improve?

2 Answers 2

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How about singing the line out loud?

Even if you just have to go "Bomp bomp bomp… [hup*] be de di deee di dee… bomp, bomp bomp…" it might be enough to distract yourself from the distraction.

*hup is the dropped one beat.
If you struggle with the dropped one, say it out loud & proud.

After a while, you just learn to play your own bit, whist paying attention to where everyone else is playing theirs. You can use the vocal to know where you are in the song without it being a distraction.
Eventually it becomes like chewing gum whilst walking - you don't really have to pay much attention to either, you can concentrate on the bigger picture of how everyone is fitting together.

It's even not really limb independence, it's just 'brain independence'. Limb independence is patting your head whilst rubbing your stomach… then switching hands every time someone else says so, without any hesitation. That's always one that's fun to watch someone else practise ;)

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  • Thanks, I'll try, it's just such a strong pull. Like when you try to not look at something and your brain goes like: I REALLY WANT TO LOOK AT IT NOW! LOOK AT IT!
    – Three Diag
    Mar 11, 2021 at 17:10
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As a rhythm guitarist myself, I somewhat understand your situation. Getting caught up in the other aspects of the song is a valid issue that has made me mess up more bedroom jams than I'll ever admit.

This is a little anecdotal, and may or may not work for you as I'm mostly a metal player. Usually, when I get distracted with other parts, it's because I don't know mine well enough and am looking for something to keep control with. Fortunately, that's easy enough to rectify.

Get yourself some good headphones and get comfortable somewhere (you can use a desk or bed, I usually use my living room floor). Hum the bassline, and vocalize it if you can. You'll know if you're getting it right because you'll feel it in your throat and skull. Learn the notes and changes, and keep singing that to yourself as you play through the song again. You're still listening to something else while you play, which is simply the reality of playing music, but you're doing so in a way that's more beneficial. As you learn the song you'll need to use this less, and can simply keep it in the back of your mind.

I've been teaching myself for seven or eight years now, and it took me about two to get to the point where I stopped getting into your situation; although, picking up the chords or bassline is great for learning songs by ear, which is a powerful skill no matter your instrument or genre.

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  • Appreciated, especially the bit about how long it took to get out of this issue, helps knowing where I stand
    – Three Diag
    Mar 12, 2021 at 11:25

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