By Johanne James
Hi there my friends and let’s talk about ghost notes.
No silly, not the ones that go bump in the night or those that say that you owe your bank 5.000.000 euros, but those little strokes played on the snare drum that give you those dynamics and subtleties that may take your playing to the level you wish to attain.
I use them a lot and although you can’t hear them due to the volume we play at, they are a crucial part of my playing. I developed them many years ago when playing funk and jazz, as they were used to fill in the little gaps that were there to be filled and give what you were playing a little more continuity. The trick is, not to overdo it. There is a what, when and how, but most importantly, why? When listening back to recordings you can hear this little flutter and they are purely a dynamic and when done right, well, they are just great to play.
A lot of control is needed.
Which means your technique has to be good or very good, otherwise they just sound like a double stroke or don’t sound at all! You also have to be in the right musical environment to do them. No point playing them in Death Metal, as mentioned before they just get lost. The funny thing is you can see what the drummer is doing, but can’t hear it. One of the best for me at playing these ghost notes was a Mr Tony Williams. For those of you who don’t know who he is, or even if you are interested, he played with Miles Davis, and if you don’t know who he is I suggest you look him up. I could mention a host of drummers who are experts in this field, but I shall bore you not! This stroke is mainly, as mentioned before, played by jazz and funk drummers, but please remember that there are no rules when it comes to playing music and if you can do it at the right time and place, then so be it. But also remember that it is used as a dynamic and therefore, you must work on your technique.
All the best and thanks for listening.