OOOOOOOOoooooooooOooooo Ghoooooooooost nooooooootes!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by BigWig Will, Oct 23, 2001.

  1. Okay, I'm a bit of what you might call notation ignorant. I've generally managed to make my way through reading music, overall I think I've done alright, 5 years of piano helps. But there's this one thing that I'm never quite sure what it means: Ghost Notes! What do people mean when they say "blah blah is a Ghost note." What is a ghost note? is it a harmonic? pull off? Whatever? Help please!
  2. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    A "ghost note" is a note that is there, but not. (ooo... zen-ish...) What you do is put your fretting finger where you WOULD press down to fret the note, but don't push down. Just leave it up. Then, play the note as normal. The string is muted and the resulting sound is a dull "thud" or "thok". It's like playing a harmonic in a non-harmonic position, if you follow. Ghost notes are used in all sorts of playing... You hear them alot in slap bass but they're also an effective tool in walking basslines for rhythmic variation, etc.
  3. 90 to 95 percent of all ghost notes are more "felt" than heard.

    they really compliment a song...i love ghost notes.

    if the musician is really feelin the song, then you may hear a lot of ghost can sometimes be "added noise, GOOD noise."

    it's kinda hard ot explain.

    that's why its weird when there are ghost notes on sheet music!!!

    it's like the songs ask you to "feel" it!
  4. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    A ghost not is a note without a discernible pitch.

    It's more a percussive thing.

    Lay your fingers lightly over all strings, so that every finger (at least two) touches one or more strings at the same time.
    Pluck a string.

    Congratulations, you just played a ghost note.

    Happy Halloween ;)
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    But the trick is to make it sound like they are pitched and part of the bassline like any other note - so you can play something that sounds almost impossible in terms of position shifts etc. You can play ghost notes on open strings with different muting techniques and shift position while doing it, but while still keeping the line smooth.

    Of couse the ghost notes need to be on sheet music as they take up space in the bar - so otherwise you might end up with only 15 out of those 16th notes in the bar!! :D
  6. On tab I know ghost notes are shown as: X. I always thought of it as a noise that is no perticular note. A good example is Greenday - Brain Stew, this song is pretty much all ghost notes. I used them all the time back when I played guitar (10 y/o) and never knew they had a name.:cool:
  7. Guitarists use them more often, I think. You can hear them more clearly because of the treble.

    You know that famous intro to Voodoo Chile? With the wah? Them be ghost notes. CHUCKA CHUCKA, that's the sound. Smells like Teen Spirit has them too.

    Just do that on bass, but with one string.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well I would tend to disagree with most of this - I have never heard what you describe called ghost notes - the Hendrix thing is more Wah than anything else and this came about as a term from bass players in funk - usually with 16th note grooves like Rocco Prestia in ToP. So Jaco is famous for using them a lot, but a lot of funk bassplayers use them.

    Guitar players tend to refer to muted notes; but I can remember the term "Ghost notes" was never around in Hendrix' time and only appeared in music mags etc much later - always in the bass playing context and usually with 16th note grooves.

    I was buying music mags from 1970 onwards - as many as I could get and I never saw guitarists refer to ghost notes, as such.
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Here's a quote from the Tower of Power website about the band's history - they were actually around before Hendrix!!

    "Nightclub" represents the first example of a style that Tower developed and Garibaldi and Prestia perfected, the missing note. In "Nightclub", there is a missing 8th note. The missing note makes the song difficult to dance to, but extremely funky. This note "ghosting" became a trademark of Rocco's playing, which emphasizes a percussive approach to bass playing, using muting, right hand picking, and dead notes to achieve a funk effect.

    Rocco told Bass Frontiers magazine "[e]ven when there's not a 'real' note, by muting and using the idea of ghost notes, there's always air moving and that created the impression that I'm playing more notes than I really am... I consider ghost notes and dead notes just as important as notes that have a real pitch"

    Rocco's style has come to be called "fingerstyle funk", and is widely admired amongst Bass Players. "Rocco is an original," Emilio said to Bass Player magazine. "He doesn't have the technical knowledge of a lot of other great bassists, but that's what makes his playing so special"
  10. Well Bruce, I've always known them as ghost notes and I started life as guitar player. In any case the distinction is irrelevant (although interesting) - I was referring to the sound of an item of musical content, not to it's lexicology.

    Whether Hendrix labelled them as ghost notes or not, it's the same technique.
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I'm not sure it is - ghost notes on bass are far more integrated into the overall line and can be achieved by different types of muting depending on what is needed and I think it's one of the big differnces between guitar and bass technique - that it especially in something like finger-style funk, you have much more control over the shape of the note than if you are using a plectrum. So if you listen to something like Jaco's "Come on Come on Over" he is using ghost notes for position shifts interspersing the ghost notes on fretted notes and open strings and at points the distinction between ghost notes and normal notes is blurred, giving the illusion he is playing a lot more notes than he is.
  12. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    OK, this is bugging the hell out of me, so I had to say something. The quote above about Tower of Power's "Down To The Nightclub" isn't what this thread was about. "Down to the Nightclub" has a 7/8 bar in it at the end of every chorus, which is why it's so hard to dance to. Listen to the tune, at the end of the chorus when the lyrics go, "bump to bump to bump, Bump city" or "slick, slick, slick..." whatever, depending on which one it is. That's where the 7/8 bar is. The song straightens out to all 4/4 time during the outro. The last 7/8 bar has a drum fill through it to setup the ride out right around the time the lyrics say "tight on the drum, drum, drum"

    The ghosting of notes as this thread seemed to be discussing is more along the lines of fretting a note, but not actually pushing down on the string to get a really dead sounding tone... it's really funky, I use it TONS when playing funk music, 'specially on faster tunes (ala - "Come On, Come Over" by Jaco, or "Oakland Stroke" by Tower of Power).

    There, I feel better. :)
  13. I don't think that means we have to use different terminology. Particularly as it's easily possible to use ghost notes on guitar in the same way they are on bass; as little percussive noises to fill out a single note line (as opposed to muted strumming).

    I don't agree that ghost notes on bass are more "integrated" with the line than ghost notes on guitar. That may be true for that particular example(Voodoo Chile) but specific cases do not reflect on general ones.

    Whether a bass player would use the concept in the same way as a guitar player doesn't seem important. Neither do I see how the technique as used on bass differs much if at all from the guitar version. You wouldn't call artificial harmonics by a different name whether they are played on a guitar, bass or violin. What's being done to the string is the same in each case.

    We may have to agree to disagree.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    But you have taken this out of context - it was the rest of the quote which talks about actual ghost notes - that is, it's all in the the bit you have left out - go back and read it again!! :rolleyes:

    I just copied the whole thing, but I could have left out the part you quoted - I wish people would read the whole post and not just the first line or something! :mad: