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Do any of you use Ghost Notes much?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Richland123, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    Do any of you use Ghost Notes much?

    In music, a ghost note, dead note, or false note, is a musical note with a rhythmic value, but no discernible pitch when played. On stringed instruments, this is played by sounding a muted string. "Muted to the point where it is more percussive sounding than obvious and clear in pitch. There is a pitch, to be sure, but its musical value is more rhythmic than melodic or harmonic.

    Ghost notes, however, are not simply the unaccented notes in a pattern. The unaccented notes in such a pattern as a clave are considered to represent the mean level of emphasis—they are neither absolutely emphasized nor unemphasized. If one further deemphasizes one of these unaccented notes to the same or a similar extent to which the accented notes in the pattern are emphasized, then one has 'ghosted' that note. In a case in which a ghost note is deemphasized to the point of silence, that note then represents a rhythmic placeholder in much the same way as does a rest. This can be a very fine distinction, and the ability of an instrumentalist to differentiate between what is a ghost note and what is a rest is governed largely by the acoustic nature of the instrument.

    Wind instruments, including the human voice, and guitars are examples of instruments generally capable of ghosting notes without making them synonymous with rests, while a pianist or percussionist would have more difficulty in creating this distinction because of the percussive nature of the instruments, which hampers the resolution of the volume gradient as one approaches silence. However, in such a case as that the ghost notes were clearly audible, while being far less prominent than the unaccented notes which represent the mean degree of emphasis within the example, then a percussionist could be said to create what we might define as ghost notes.
  2. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
  3. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Ghost notes are very much a part of my style. It lets my inner percussionist out.
  4. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    Me too!
  5. bombpop14


    Apr 10, 2010
    Irvine, California USA
    Endorsing Artist Ampeg Amps
    It was actually brought to my attention that I do use them a lot, particularly when playing funk or R&B. I think the bass is an instrument which bridges the gap between melody and percussion for the most part and lends itself to ghost notes when accenting what the drummer is doing.
  6. Yep, but the way that I do it is different than what I have seen most do. I usually see people mute with their fretting hand and pluck with their plucking hand. I hold the note with my fretting hand and do the muting and plucking with my plucking hand. It is almost like an open handed slap with my plucking hand. Kinda strange, but it work well for me and sounds good.

  7. i do as well. its something i do here and there.
    it helps me keep time in off beat situations.
  8. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Probably...stems back into the '80s. A drummer/rhythm guru explained a manner of thinking of my two plucking fingers as drum sticks...and keeping them in constant motion could act as a metronome. He gave similar advice to our a-rhythmic guitarist...constant up/down motion with the picking hand.

    Anyway, back then I had a very staccato/ghost thing happenin'. I recall doing a track for a local Daryl Hall-wannabe...everything was OK until he said "Solo the bass track". I almost flipped...as damage control, I said you will hear a bunch of pops/clicks/thumps (stuff that was "buried" with everything else goin' on)...long story short, it sounded cool (IMO)...like it had a life of its own.
    In that time frame, though, it was a challenge to play anything legato; holding a Whole note (Hell, a 1/2 note) to its full duration was torture.
  9. ugly_bassplayer


    Jan 21, 2009
    Yes, often.
  10. bassfran

    bassfran Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2012
    Endorsing artist: Lakland basses
    Yes, all the time.

    I can't imagine how my playing would sound without them.
  11. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Ever since I started playing. I also used to hit the strings a lot with my plucking fingers. The percussive effect wasn't always appreciated though, especially in the studio (and especially when playing a Stingray)!
  12. Oneirogenic


    Nov 10, 2009
    It depends on the song and what the drummer is or isn't doing. Ghost notes have a particular effectiveness when used with an envelope filter.
  13. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    Copy and paste Wikipedia much? :D

    But to answer the question, yes quite a bit, to the point that I do not even think about it and have not for many years. Ghost notes to me add a ton of feel to a groove, that would just sound plain without it.

  14. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    I use ghost notes a lot! Depends on the tune, and what the other instruments are doing, of course.

    Fingerstyle, I'll choke a note if I want it more percussive than pitched. Plus plucking hand percussive stuff, like patting the strings on off beats.

    Slap--fuggedabboudit! Left hand pats, dead thumps, dead pops.
  15. BigEarl

    BigEarl Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2003
    Austin, TX
    Yes, when I was a much younger man I played with so many lousy drummers I got into the habit of tapping the strings between notes just to help me keep a decent rhythm.

    Now I can't stop doing it and, to be honest, sometimes it drives me nuts!
  16. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    No, I just did not feel like typing what I wanted to write. :D

    I started out as a drummer and percussionist as a kid before moving to guitar and then bass. I have always had a very percussive and rhythmic approach to my playing and do many different things for sounds, attack, dynamics, etc.
  17. Ghost notes and passing notes are a signature to my tone. It helps me groove and fit in the pocket a little better.
  18. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I use em all the time. How else is the drummer supposed to cover my mistakes?
  19. guroove


    Oct 13, 2009
    Buffalo, NY
    I play more ghost notes than ringing out notes
  20. tycobb73


    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    I odn't believe in ghost (notes).