What Is a Ghost Note?
In Drumming terms, it’s quite simply a De-emphasized, often near silent beat. These notes are played very softly between the “main notes” (off the beat, on the sixteenth notes) most often on the Snare drum.
While Ghost Notes can be played on any drum or cymbal, by its definition as a subtle pattern to add more depth, it’s commonly used on the snare giving the groove or phrase more of a feel than a sound.
Playing Ghost notes can add flavour to a simple beat, throwing in some complexities to enhance the sound, it’s therefore necessary to make sure that the volume of a Ghost note is played much quieter than a regular note; hence the name Ghost Note.
They can be recognised on a chart as by having brackets ( ) around the note, as in the main image, sometimes also seen as a smaller note – half-size – in a bar. Practicing Ghost notes can be challenging, its important to remember that these are notes played in between notes but also simultaneously. For example, as a right-handed drummer, the left hand will play on beats 2 and 4 while the right hand counts 1&2&3&4&. The Ghost note can then be played with the left hand, more often, and in any combination as 16th notes – on the “e” and “a”etc, or as desired. The left hand therefore plays both the loud accented notes as well as the unaccented notes (Ghost notes). To be able to play both loud and quiet notes with one hand takes some time to master, so starting slow and being patient is imperative.
They are very effective, can be very creative and can make your own grooves fuller. With control they can become so subtle, which would be the ultimate aim, that they are almost undetectable – they are the Ghosts in the middle of the drum beat.
So, with admiration of something so simple, yet something that adds such variety, it’s no coincidence that the humble Ghost Note is at the top of our list.
We love it so much that we named our Drum school after it!
Happy practicing 🙂