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  #1  
Old 07-11-2012, 04:31 PM
Mukund Mukund is offline
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Default overusing ghost notes and grace notes

Hey everyone
ok so i have always been fascinated by ghost and grace notes
but never paid much attention
but recently after learning a basic beat with those notes
i thought i should go more in deep
so now here is the problem
in everyone groove i play or every metal beat i play
i am trying to play ghost notes and grace notes

is this a bad habit ?
will i get over it ?
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  #2  
Old 07-11-2012, 04:40 PM
Anthony Amodeo
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

ghost notes are more for an implied affect on the feel of a groove than to be heard

obviously they are heard.....and add dimensions to a groove

but they should be very quiet ..... dynamics my friend

this should be a natural thing....not playing grace notes for the sake of playing grace notes

the problem I hear in a lot of less experienced drummers is that they play grace notes way too loud and they start to disrupt the groove when they should be enhancing it

so play them quietly and play them where ever you want.....if its natural....don't go forcing them in spots where they shouldn't be

watch Keith Carlock play....his left hand never stops.....grace notes fill in just about every space...but they are very very quiet when he wants them to be

remember....if you can't control your dynamics..grace notes can make a groove sound ridiculous
but if you can ...it sounds and feels beautiful

keeping taps down is something lots of players ...including myself struggle with.....

the problem is most don't know they struggle with this so they continue to play taps much too loud

knowing is half the battle

as soon as you feel they are low enough.....lower them just a hair more :)
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  #3  
Old 07-11-2012, 04:44 PM
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Liebe zeit Liebe zeit is offline
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

What GVA said.

Plus, it depends on the tune. Look at some of those classic James Brown tunes, like Mother Popcorn, they're full of ghost notes.

But other tunes just don't need em.
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  #4  
Old 07-11-2012, 04:53 PM
Shirai Shirai is offline
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

As long as you're playing them, and they're not playing you. In other words, it's sort of like what GV said - don't play them just for the sake of playing them. Play them only when they genuinely add to the music.

I went through a gratuitous ghost note phase, and at its peak it was actually more difficult (mentally) to play a straight, square rock beat than it was to stick a bunch of ghost notes in all the spaces. I also found that it screwed with my timing. So if you find yourself in that kind of situation, then you know it has gone too far.

I also agree with Liebe - let the music be your cue. Sometimes the ghost notes just aren't appropriate in the context of what the rest of the band is playing.
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Old 07-11-2012, 05:23 PM
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  #5  
Old 07-11-2012, 05:46 PM
Mukund Mukund is offline
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

hmm
sorry for acting dumb here
but can you explain what is a tap?
i have heard that term a lot
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  #6  
Old 07-11-2012, 06:20 PM
Anthony Amodeo
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mukund View Post
hmm
sorry for acting dumb here
but can you explain what is a tap?
i have heard that term a lot
a tap is a quiet note played from low sticking...usually about 3" from the head or less

aka....grace note or ghost note
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  #7  
Old 07-12-2012, 02:02 AM
Mukund Mukund is offline
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

Thanks :)

The message you have entered is too short. Please lengthen your message to at least 20 characters.
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  #8  
Old 07-12-2012, 02:57 AM
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

+1 to all above. Ghost notes help you stay in time once you learn to use them, they fill the space between accents and help keep things neat, while sounding classy, they don't always have to be heard. In metal for example, if you're playing double bass and playing a ride pattern using a parradiddle or inverted parradiddle you can play ghost notes on the snare on all notes except the backbeat. Once you get better you can use them to fill the space in broken bass drum patterns too.

Check out Matt Halpern, Tomas Haake and Morgen Agren.
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  #9  
Old 07-12-2012, 03:04 AM
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

+1 to the G mans post...

Hopefully ghost notes are something you feel, not something you add. Big difference. Done thoughtfully, it would be hard to over do it, unless you are just over the top with them.
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  #10  
Old 07-12-2012, 03:12 AM
Luke50001 Luke50001 is offline
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

In my opinion ghost notes can add more feel to a groove, and make it sound better technically, but they CAN be over used. Like everyone else said, using them in a musical way that adds to the music is the way to go. They can be used to draw extra attention to or stress a particular part of a song by drawing the listener in, or to fill spaces in a groove.
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  #11  
Old 07-12-2012, 03:56 AM
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

Hi, just checking in from the Ghost Note Dependency Support group.

Great post, G-alphabet. I'm still trying to get those internal dynamics right - too loud and you affect the groove, too light in relation to hats and ride and you lose the flowing feel. One of these years ...

After a previous demo one thing I'm wary of is compressing the snare drum track. It boosts the level of ghosties, grace notes and ruffs in relation to the accents and changes the balance of the feel. It can make a drum track that's sitting okay sound a bit clunky.

If you ever see clips of people showing how they can play the Purdie shuffle, often they play ghosts too loud ... it's as though they worked hard to get that beat down and by golly gumbo they're going to make sure no one misses them ...
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  #12  
Old 07-12-2012, 04:09 AM
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

I overuse the hell out of them...yet rarely can they be heard over the band. They're felt when they're not heard.
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  #13  
Old 07-12-2012, 04:50 AM
brentcn brentcn is offline
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

Ask yourself: are the rhythms that I'm playing with the ghost notes represented by any other element of the music at hand? If the answer is no, then you probably shouldn't play them. Of course, an exception to this rule might come along, but then it will be an artistic choice and not the force of habit. Be mature in your musical decision-making!
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  #14  
Old 07-12-2012, 09:50 AM
Duracell Duracell is offline
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

Lot's of good replies in this thread already. I'd just like to throw in my 2 cents:

What makes a ghost note a ghost note is totally dependent on the overall volume level of your kit and the rest of the band. I've seen Chad Smith play inaudible ghost notes that where played from a height that would almost be a backbeat in lower volume settings.

That also means that when you are playing in a low volume (unmiced) setting it might be wise to cut out the ghosts all together because the volume difference (dynamic contrast) between your accents and ghosts is too small.
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  #15  
Old 07-12-2012, 11:11 AM
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BacteriumFendYoke BacteriumFendYoke is offline
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

I have to cite Chad Smith as a modern master of ghost notes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEkcPjBaHjs

The function here is to just slightly reinforce the backbeat and 'comp' with the bass guitar. The bass and the drums are playing sympathetically, with some of those minor inflections provided with the ghost notes and the 'main' time with the backbeat.

Another obvious example that's already been mentioned is Jeff Pocaro playing 'Rosanna':

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwFdExvCxM4

The function here is to reinforce the shuffle feel. If you've ever played this kind of half time shuffle, the ghost notes are vital in propelling the feel forward. I play shuffles like this regularly and being able to play with and without ghost notes provides a totally different feel. With the ghost notes, you're propelling forward and without them, the feel is much more stoic and solid.

Another function of ghost notes is 'pure' comping:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK-ne...eature=related

In this instance, Elvin Jones (AKA God) is not only playing sympathetically with the melody instrument (in this case, the saxophone) but also providing rhythmic (and some would say melodic) balance against it - using simple call and response techniques. This allows Elvin to place heavier accented strokes between ghost strokes and propel the music forward.

Take this section of playing, with Elvin playing against the time of the piano:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK-ne...ailpage#t=156s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK-ne...ailpage#t=225s

That simply wouldn't be possible without the ghost notes.

Some songs will need them, others won't. These are just a couple of examples of how ghosting can be used.
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  #16  
Old 07-12-2012, 07:10 PM
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Anduin Anduin is offline
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anon La Ply View Post
...and by golly gumbo...
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  #17  
Old 07-12-2012, 08:36 PM
Otto Otto is offline
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

I think its a question of what you like Muckund...be careful listening to others taste over your own...thats how art get homogenous.
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  #18  
Old 07-12-2012, 08:38 PM
Anthony Amodeo
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto View Post
.be careful listening to others taste over your own...thats how art get homogenous.
it's also how you learn

lets not get too artsy fartsy.....these are grace notes we are talking about here
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  #19  
Old 07-12-2012, 08:41 PM
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

I used to have a bad habit of overusing ghost notes and drags.
It sounds great in some styles and beats, but it just isn't good in other styles.

Ghost notes are necessary (more or less) in funk, Levon Helm or Chad Smith kinda playing, but if you're playing punk, or metal, or Foo Fighters, you gotta learn to play without the ghosts too.
Practice to play beats with and without ghost notes and drags. I know it has increased and widened my drumming ability.

Peace!
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  #20  
Old 07-12-2012, 08:47 PM
Otto Otto is offline
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gvdadrummasum View Post
it's also how you learn

lets not get too artsy fartsy.....these are grace notes we are talking about here
Agreed!...

Im on a bit of a rampage recently...wondering where the inventiveness is...and I am thinking its on the practice room floor along with the things drummers are told to eliminate...which they do without careful consideration of what they might be losing...such as critical thought of what they are grinding away.
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  #21  
Old 07-12-2012, 08:50 PM
Anthony Amodeo
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swexx View Post
I used to have a bad habit of overusing ghost notes and drags.
It sounds great in some styles and beats, but it just isn't good in other styles.

Ghost notes are necessary (more or less) in funk, Levon Helm or Chad Smith kinda playing, but if you're playing punk, or metal, or Foo Fighters, you gotta learn to play without the ghosts too.
Practice to play beats with and without ghost notes and drags. I know it has increased and widened my drumming ability.

Peace!
there are grace notes all over every Foo Fighters record and live performance

Taylor plays I bet thousands of grace notes in this performance
he has that notorious open handed drop grace note and its all over everything he plays
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xnmzins2Uow

I would argue that grace notes are necessary in every style of play

from Drum Corps. to metal

if you don't have taps in your playing there is a whole dimension missing

this is a matter of dynamics that is not specific to a genre of music

drummers need tap strokes.....it's just a fact of life....just use them appropriately ...it shouldn't even be something you think about...it should just happen ...no matter what style you are playing

without them where is your low dynamic?
where is your up stroke?
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  #22  
Old 07-12-2012, 08:51 PM
Anthony Amodeo
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto View Post
Agreed!...

Im on a bit of a rampage recently...wondering where the inventiveness is...and I am thinking its on the practice room floor along with the things drummers are told to eliminate...which they do without careful consideration of what they might be losing...such as critical thought of what they are grinding away.

I can completely agree with and appreciate this sentiment
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  #23  
Old 07-12-2012, 09:47 PM
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Dr_Watso Dr_Watso is offline
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dre25 View Post
+1 to all above. Ghost notes help you stay in time once you learn to use them, they fill the space between accents and help keep things neat, while sounding classy, they don't always have to be heard. In metal for example, if you're playing double bass and playing a ride pattern using a parradiddle or inverted parradiddle you can play ghost notes on the snare on all notes except the backbeat. Once you get better you can use them to fill the space in broken bass drum patterns too.

Check out Matt Halpern, Tomas Haake and Morgen Agren.
This is exactly how I feel grace notes should not be played... If you're using them as a form of filling space or keeping time, then you're not using them because the music is calling for it.

Like the OP, at one point I noticed that I was doing too much, almost like it was an automatic thing that my hand just did without thought... This is the wrong way to use ghosties. They should have a point in the groove, if you ask me, which you didn't.
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  #24  
Old 07-13-2012, 01:49 AM
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Anon La Ply Anon La Ply is offline
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swexx View Post
Practice to play beats with and without ghost notes and drags. I know it has increased and widened my drumming ability.
Good advice.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto View Post
Agreed!...

Im on a bit of a rampage recently...wondering where the inventiveness is...and I am thinking its on the practice room floor along with the things drummers are told to eliminate...which they do without careful consideration of what they might be losing...such as critical thought of what they are grinding away.
Scratch the surface of a drummer grinding away on the pad you will find someone desperate to escape the 9 to 5 grind. So it goes.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gvdadrummasum View Post
I would argue that grace notes are necessary in every style of play from Drum Corps. to metal

if you don't have taps in your playing there is a whole dimension missing

this is a matter of dynamics that is not specific to a genre of music

drummers need tap strokes.....it's just a fact of life....just use them appropriately ...it shouldn't even be something you think about...it should just happen ...no matter what style you are playing

without them where is your low dynamic?
where is your up stroke?
I love how they provide the energy of flowing 16th notes while maintaining the tasteful musical space you'd achieve with 8th notes. I've always been a sucker for Steely Dan's drummers - Hodder, Porcaro, Gordon, Purdie, Gadd, Carlock - all used ghosts freely and to great effect in the music.

Rick Marotta IMO was different - he plays super clean (more clean than I'd like) and uses far fewer ghost notes than the others, but his time and feel is so uncanny he can play quarters and 8ths and still imply a 16ths feel in combination with the rest of the rhythm section.

However, ghost notes would not have improved Velvet Underground, White Stripes or ACDC :)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr_Watso View Post
This is exactly how I feel grace notes should not be
played... If you're using them as a form of filling space or keeping time, then you're not using them because the music is calling for it.

Like the OP, at one point I noticed that I was doing too much, almost like it was an automatic thing that my hand just did without thought... This is the wrong way to use ghosties. They should have a point in the groove, if you ask me, which you didn't.
True, and I think it's a physical thing. Not only do rhythms sound more rounded and flowing with ghosties, they physically feel that way too. Sometimes I have to kind of air drum silent 16ths ghosts to physically feel comfortable playing a groove.
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  #25  
Old 07-13-2012, 04:45 AM
Bonzobilly Bonzobilly is offline
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anon La Ply View Post
Hi, just checking in from the Ghost Note Dependency Support group.

Great post, G-alphabet. ...
G-alphabet!, Thats freakin funny!
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  #26  
Old 07-14-2012, 03:29 AM
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Dr_Watso Dr_Watso is offline
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anon La Ply View Post
True, and I think it's a physical thing. Not only do rhythms sound more rounded and flowing with ghosties, they physically feel that way too. Sometimes I have to kind of air drum silent 16ths ghosts to physically feel comfortable playing a groove.
Air-drumming is great! I often hit my leg as a place-holder for something I don't really want sound from... I think you get the point... You have to mean what you play and only play what you mean. Doing things automatically or without thinking isn't playing musically, it's just re-enforcing habits. Sometimes it sounds great to fill in all the 16th gaps or what have you, and sometimes it doesn't.
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  #27  
Old 07-14-2012, 05:14 AM
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Coldhardsteel Coldhardsteel is offline
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

One personal fear is how ghost notes and drags fit into the rhythm that I play. If I were to isolate my hands and make the dynamics all fortissimo, some rhythms sound more interesting than others. Sometimes that theory doesn't really apply and I'll play what I play anyway, but I use that sort of examination to really consider a beat that I happened to jot down with a bunch of ghost notes or whatever.

A good thing to practice is check pattern variations and applying the accent and tap to different partials in the variation, which will give you good practice with stick control and generate ideas for where to place your ghost notes in any particular rhythm. Unconventional taps and drags sound cool.
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  #28  
Old 07-14-2012, 05:50 AM
Anthony Amodeo
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

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Originally Posted by Coldhardsteel View Post
One personal fear is how ghost notes and drags fit into the rhythm that I play. If I were to isolate my hands and make the dynamics all fortissimo, some rhythms sound more interesting than others. Sometimes that theory doesn't really apply and I'll play what I play anyway, but I use that sort of examination to really consider a beat that I happened to jot down with a bunch of ghost notes or whatever.

A good thing to practice is check pattern variations and applying the accent and tap to different partials in the variation, which will give you good practice with stick control and generate ideas for where to place your ghost notes in any particular rhythm. Unconventional taps and drags sound cool.

this is great advice

nicely put Steel
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  #29  
Old 07-16-2012, 03:54 AM
Otto Otto is offline
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Default Re: overusing ghost notes and grace notes

Quote:
Scratch the surface of a drummer grinding away on the pad you will find someone desperate to escape the 9 to 5 grind. So it goes.
profound and educational....

Drumming as a drug may not be serving our culture via the effects on the music that shape it...as the 9 to 5 grind may not be either...food for thought.

Might be good for my next drumming surge to put a buffer between it and my post-work-day attitude...exercise maybe...or a short homicidal rage spree ; )
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