How to control ghost notes- tips and techniques?

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
Practice on a pad, Practice on a kit, Play beats with many ghost notes. Work on both hands. Make accents POP, make ghost notes almost inaudible. Start with paradiddles, see you in a few months.
 

donzo74

Junior Member
For reference, use a baseline that is about one inch above the head. From this starting point, don't lift the sticks for the grace notes, just drop them down to the head. This is a very minor twitch of your wrist with your fingers all on the stick and sometimes, when you gain fine control and get down below an inch, it can just be a slight loosening of your fingers to get the stick to drop down (I'm sure you get that I am not saying " just let go and drop the sticks on the drum". There would be no control there.) This baseline will also be your pianissimo 'pp' (low volume) playing level. Any louder dynamic level, which includes accents, you play above the baseline level. This stick height differential will cause the volume differential.

At this point, you have to feel what dropping the grace notes in feels like at different tempos. Distance/Time = Speed. From one inch, the stick will take almost no time to get to the head when dropped but just "dropping" the stick implies the stick is moving at the natural speed of gravity. As tempo increases, you will have to apply more force to very subtly speed the stick from that baseline gravitational velocity to the higher tempos. Conversely, when playing slower tempos, you will have to hold back to slow the stick from the gravitational baseline. This happens with all of the notes, whether they are the grace notes or accents, and this is where practice helps you feel where you need to give the sticks an extra push to speed them up or hold them back a little to control them for slower tempos. This is extremely subtle and requires practice to feel and hear. Just keep those grace notes low, low, low in order to keep them in their proper place..
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
It's all about how much time, work and intelligence you put into your hands. There are no shortcuts or hacks, but there is a tough row to hoe. Drumming is great not because it's easy, it's great because it's hard. Being hard weeds out the suckers, forget about easy. I feel there is a physical aspect of drumming that gets overlooked by too many early drummers. I'm mainly talking about how physically to manipulate a drumstick in the most efficient way possible, so all the things we want to play are within our hand's abilities.

My tip is...start hoeing that row. Start your lifetime journey on hand technique today. Bill Bachman, a teacher/member here, is known for teaching students great technique. Over Skype if you are too far away. If you are serious you will hit him or someone else up for technique training.

Technique training was the key that made it possible for me to throw my hat in the ring and be a contender drumming-wise. I wouldn't be posting here now if it weren't for what my first 2 teachers imparted to me. It allowed me to be in the "club".
 
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Alex Sanguinetti

Silver Member
Technique training was the key that made it possible for me to throw my hat in the ring and be a contender drumming-wise. I wouldn't be posting here now if it weren't for what my first 2 teachers imparted to me. It allowed me to be in the "club".
I never seen your playing, could a post a VIDEO, please?

Thanks a lot!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I never seen your playing, could a post a VIDEO, please?

Thanks a lot!
A person on your level would never consider me a contender Alex. But in my local (non jazz) music scene I am.

I haven't posted playing since 2013 and am looking to keep it that way. Thanks for the interest though :)
 

Alex Sanguinetti

Silver Member
I don´t consider ANYONE in the music scene a cotender, I consider all colleagues (colegas)...I was just curious about how you play, because I don´t recall ever seen a video of you here...that´s why I was curious...still am...

Best regards!
 
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GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
In my novice opinion the best way of learning is doing. Now ghost notes can be slightly quiet or barely audible so you have to practice both. I would play something straight up with a snare hit on 4-now let the stick continue and get the free beats. I often move my ghost notes to edge so a different pitch and quieter-so solid on 4 and move stick over and let it go or tap out melody with ghost for accents white still solid on 4 . You may find it easier to do with a half time shuffle-so you can practice keeping the ghost notes quiet-the Purdie Shuffle on Home At Last by Steely Dan is a great song for ghost notes-they are all free with the shuffle.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Just wondering what the best tips are for learning ghost notes
Posting a video of yourself doing them to the best of your ability, is the best place to start. How can you help someone without seeing what the issue is? You could be well on your way, and just need a little tweak, or you could need a bunch of new techniques and training, or you could be somewhere in between.

In order to receive a lesson — even a free one — you need to become a student.
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
The 'show me how you play' is a valid argument in this section of the forum though..

Thats also the reason why i will never give any advice anymore in this section, because why would anyone take my advice if they never saw me play..?

That, plus the fact that i had some kinda 'foolish' (to say the least) discussions here..

There are some regular posters in this section whose replies i always read and take serious (toddbishop, brentcn, Sanguinetti, Tony and regarding metal drumming beyondbetrayal), because from those people i know, also technique wise, how they play..

Most other replies i just read and sometimes like or i read them to annoy myself a little (lol..), but the chance that i remember them to maybe use something for my own playing is pretty small..
 
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Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
First let's just get it out of the way. A "ghost" or "grace" note is simply a note or set of notes played at a lower dynamic and volume than the general level of the song or part. It shouldn't really be something difficult or that needs a lot of specific practice, because you should always be practicing and utilizing dynamics in your playing.

One of the easiest ways to get consistent and varied dynamics is to pay attention to and get control over your stick heights from the drums as you play. Play a string of notes and bring your sticks up a few inches, then play a couple of notes with a lot less stick travel, control any bounce and try to keep the stick down lower; you'll notice the notes where you didn't let the stick travel are a lot more quiet and have a different attack and dynamic.

There's also a few specific rudiments and rolls you can work on to help because they can be played with accents or are kinda like what most people play as "ghost" notes in the first place.
Ruffs or "drags":
While you watch that, pay attention to how the accented notes are utilizing higher stick movements than the low "grace/ghost" notes in the part.

I also find multi-stroke rudiment rolls like 5-stroke or 6-stroke rolls might be helpful to drilling for these concepts, because you can kinda play the whole roll at a low dynamic and then add in accents on varied parts of the roll as your stronger notes.
 

Alain Rieder

Silver Member
In my experience, ghost notes just happen by themselves.
Practice groove patterns with a hand to hand sixteenth note ostinato on the hi-hat (the right hand also plays the back beats).
Then play the same patterns, your right hand still plays the hi-hat and the snare, but your left hand plays very lightly on the snare-drum.
Then don't try too hard, just let it happen.
The perfect structure to work on this concept is my Time Manipulation Drum Book, have a look at it!
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
In my experience, ghost notes just happen by themselves.
Practice groove patterns with a hand to hand sixteenth note ostinato on the hi-hat (the right hand also plays the back beats).
Then play the same patterns, your right hand still plays the hi-hat and the snare, but your left hand plays very lightly on the snare-drum.
Then don't try too hard, just let it happen.
The perfect structure to work on this concept is my Time Manipulation Drum Book, have a look at it!
While I won't say it isn't true, I will say that from my experience, ghost notes sound better and work better if you have control over them rather than just letting it happen without thinking. It helps with the whole "mean what you play and play what you mean" thing.
 

Alain Rieder

Silver Member
ghost notes sound better and work better if you have control over them rather than just letting it happen without thinking.
For sure you're right, and I also worked on the concept.
What I meant is that I started playing ghost before anybody told me about them, before any drum book mentioned them, before the internet and before Modern Drummer existed. It just happened by chance and then I refined them.
Since I teach this stuff, I know for a fact that people tend to try too hard to play ghost notes. The procedure I described before just works. Then on page 14 of my drum book, there are six ostinatos with ghost notes, to be used with the exercises.
 
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Bonzo_CR

Silver Member
David Garibaldi's book 'Future Sounds' explains this, and it's a pretty good text to work on this area with.
He calls it the 'two-level concept'. The 'two levels' refers to stick level (I suppose) - i.e. full strokes vs ghost notes.

Really it's about setting consistent levels (say an inch above the head for ghost notes, like donzo74 said, and maybe 12 inches for the full strokes) and playing the notes from those heights. This has the effect of really exaggerating the difference between the full and ghost notes, like beyondbetrayal said, and over time allows you to develop control. Practice, practice, practice!
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
I do a lot of practice where for example you have a ghost followed by an accent, or an accent followed by a ghost note.... even doing doubles. rrllrrllrrll..... trying doing RrLlRrLl and rRlLrRlL same with diddles rlrR lrlL and rlRr lrLl. I'll over emphasize the accents and ghosts. If you can barely hear the ghost notes, you are doing them right. I'll often rim shot my accents when practicing to really make them stand out.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The root cause of good ghost notes....and good loud notes....is stick control, which to me translates into...how good are my hands?

I feel if I work on my technique, like BB just described, ghost notes come automatically at the gig.
 
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