How To Play Ghost Notes
Many drummers may be confused with the whole aspect around ghost notes. This is a result of numerous different translations of the term. Ghost notes are notes that are played much quieter than others, giving it more of a feel rather than a sound - which explains why it is called a ghost note. Ghost notes can be added anywhere in a beat, and can be played on any drum or cymbal. Using ghost notes in basic beats will give the pattern more depth and more groove. Learning how to play these strokes will help you in developing a better feel for your drum sticks as well as your drum kit itself.
So what does a ghost note look like on paper? For those of you who read sheet music, a ghost note looks just like a regular note, just half the size. Very easy to read, meaning you would hit that note with around half the power (or less). It is important you do not mistake these for regular notes and hit them at regular volume, the loudness of the stroke is what makes it a ghost note. The most common place for a ghost note is in between snare hits during a beat. Playing them on the snare will give a song a whole new sound to it!
Practicing the ghost notes are not as easy as you may think. If you were to go ahead and practice hitting the snare or practice pad at a low volume, then you would be practicing the wrong way. Any one can hit a drum loudly and softly. The trick is to be able to do both simultaneously. When you learn to play the drums with more independence, you will be able to play with both loud and soft dynamics. That is what makes the ghost notes so effective. So let’s start out with some easy rudimental practices. Do each of these patterns with one hand only, so you get used to playing with more dynamics. Remember to practice these patterns with both left and right hands.
Once you have these few patterns down, try stepping it up a notch by adding ghost notes into drum beats. Try the following.
In the end you want to make sure the ghost notes are felt more than they are heard. Like the term, you want them to be ghosts in the middle of a drum beat. Success with this means more groove and better feel.
By: Dave Atkinson
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