Ghost Notes

So..... what are they?

I know that sounds stupid, but I'm self-taught & don't know the terminology. When I used to play in drumlines, 'ghost note' meant a stroke that was stopped just before the stick hit the drum; used as a visual effect and/or timing device. Anyway, I hear the term a lot on the forums, so I thought I'd ask.
 

Rezn8

Member
Ghost notes are notes that are played very low in volume compared to the other strokes - so the sound is basically more implied than heard.

For a good example check out Bernard Purdie's video here on the site.
 

Bigdumbdrums

Senior Member
simply put - they are notes hit with less intensity - sometimes referred to as "grace" notes or "accent" notes. A good rudiment to practice is called "tap-ups" or "flams". Basically, hit softer notes keeping the head of the stick about an inch off the drum head and no higher. Combine that with harder hits with the opposite hand. It adds a lot of dynamics to your playing.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
I have never heard it called an accent note, especially as an "accent" is the opposite of a ghost. Has anyone else heard that terminology?

The best way to understand ghost notes is to go see a live drummer who uses them. You will notice that the left hand moves a lot, even if all you really hear cut above the rest is the 2 and 4. The motion on the snare helps propel the band, shapes the sound, and gives a better "feel" to the music, even if you can't really pick it out aurally.
 

drumhead61

Gold Member
I have never heard it called an accent note, especially as an "accent" is the opposite of a ghost. Has anyone else heard that terminology?

The best way to understand ghost notes is to go see a live drummer who uses them. You will notice that the left hand moves a lot, even if all you really hear cut above the rest is the 2 and 4. The motion on the snare helps propel the band, shapes the sound, and gives a better "feel" to the music, even if you can't really pick it out aurally.

Yeah, an accent is accentuated or louder not like a ghost which is phantom like, grace I have heard used in conjunction with ghost but not accent.
 

Wavelength

Platinum Member
Actually, grace notes are ghost notes associated with a main note; for instance a flam consists of a grace note and a main note. Grace notes may or may not have a definite rhythmic value, but ghost notes always have a definite rhythmic value and placement.
 

drummer girl09

Senior Member
Ghost notes are notes that are played very low in volume compared to the other strokes - so the sound is basically more implied than heard.

For a good example check out Bernard Purdie's video here on the site.
This guy as funny! He's a great drummer though! I thought he was another drummer that I was thinking about, but when I went to the vids, it was some one totally different. He's awesome!

Ghost notes, though, I use to add some extra funk to it I guess. I don't use it for the timing or anything. Just to enhance the sound in the grooves. I'm not sure that enhance is the right word though.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Roseanna, by Toto, is chock full of ghosts, as is the opening bars on Lido Shuffle. Both played by the great Jeff Porcaro.
 

intooder

Senior Member
Actually, grace notes are ghost notes associated with a main note; for instance a flam consists of a grace note and a main note. Grace notes may or may not have a definite rhythmic value, but ghost notes always have a definite rhythmic value and placement.
That's it! From now on you're Merriam-Wavelength. It's impressive how you, accurately and concisely, describe so many drum-related terms.
 
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