All About The Ghost Notes

Updated: Jan 9, 2021

Making the grooves feel good.

One question I frequently get asked is "how do you make your busier grooves sound so smooth? I really like those extra notes you're playing on the snare drum." When it comes to pulling off a smooth groove there are many variables. You have syncopated kick and snare placement, placement of your right hand on the ride cymbal or hi hats, even tempo plays an important role of getting a groove to sound just right.

One factor is DYNAMICS.

If you're not sure what dynamics is, that is the volume of your notes from quiet too loud. You have a normal note, an accent which is a louder note and a ghost note which is a quieter transparent note. When a new student starts off in lessons with me, either every note they play is too loud or every note is too quiet. This delivers sort of a stiffness feel. After we have the talk about ghost notes and I assign certain exercises for this, I will watch that same drummer a few weeks later and notice a tremendous improvement with the way their grooves feel. It's almost as if they made a transformation on their approach to the drum set and the delivery of their playing. Everything sounds and feels more relaxed and comfortable all in making one small change in dynamics.

For example, Take the paradiddle pattern RLRRLRLL and play your right hand on your ride cymbal and play your left hand on the snare drum. Then play your right hand on the bell of the ride on beats 1 and 3. Play all other notes with the right hand towards the middle or the edge of the ride and make those notes softer in volume. Next play your left hand in the center of your snare drum on beats 2 and 4 loud and play all other left handed notes quieter towards the edge of the snare. On a side note it helps to count out 1/16 notes.

For more info on ghost notes, check out our video course.

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