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  #1  
Old 09-08-2013, 05:38 AM
newoldie newoldie is offline
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Default Who hears the Ghost Notes?

In jamming the other day with a 5 piece group, we practiced only covers of classic rock songs. The volume in the practice studio was somewhat muted due to the soundproofing so it was hard to discern all the sounds that might otherwise come through in a live gig setting, assuming mics are in place, acoustics are decent, etc.
In my own practicing of the songs, I listened carefully to the fill-ins and ghost notes that peppered each phrase of the songs, figuring this would be the right starting point from which to join the group practice- if the group was true to the original recording, these details would come through and be consistent with the resulting jam; if the group didn't follow the original closely, I would still have the skeleton outline of the tune ingrained and could adapt as needed. The group turned out to play the tunes close to the original which was somewhat refreshing compared to other groups I've practiced with where the tunes deviated enough to warrant a new interpretation on phrasing, repeating bars, ending differently, etc.
However, unlike the studio recording drum details, it dawned on me that in a jam, you really can't tell the fine Ghost Notes that come through from a professionally engineered song. It's almost as if playing those fine details live won't amount to anyone noticing them. You have to ramp up all the strokes enough to be heard and make a difference.
If this assumption is also correct for live gigging events (vs. live jamming), how do others compensate for not playing these finer details, except to the extent a quality mic is placed right next to the snare might pick some of them up? I'm talking about normal volume rock songs, not quieter ballads or acoustical tunes.
Do you just continue to play them with the attitude good if they are noticed and if not, they still complete the groove for the drummer to follow along? Or do you pick up the volume on all the strokes to ensure they're even heard?
I'd guess you'd have to play the Ghosts as almost the same volume as regular notes for the sound to penetrate through and get noticed by the audience.
Or, is there a situation in which these finer Ghost notes are picked up enough to warrant keeping them at that lower volume?
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  #2  
Old 09-08-2013, 05:54 AM
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Pocket-full-of-gold Pocket-full-of-gold is offline
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Default Re: Who hears the Ghost Notes?

I've always considered ghosts to be "felt" more than they are "heard" per se. They don't need to be played louder in a live setting as that defeats their purpose in the first place IMHO. They are a nuance, a subtlety, something that adds to the overall feel of the track without the need to dominate it. Their addition or omission can change the overall feel but not necessarily in a way that's obviously audible.

Listen to the great "ghosting masters". The Gadds, the Porcaros, the Jordans and see how they get them to sit just right. They're there if you listen hard for them, but not all that noticeable if you're not actively searching for them. Exactly how a "ghost" note should be IMHO. They lend to a feel, not necessarily to a distinct and identifiable sound in their own right....that's what your accents and backbeats are for.
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Old 09-08-2013, 05:57 AM
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Default Re: Who hears the Ghost Notes?

in my opinion the purpose of a grace note is to be felt and not really heard.... almost implied

sort of space holders.... gap fillers.... a necessary glue that ensures the accented notes are achieving their deserved value

like the feathering of the bass drum they are a support system

they are more for us as players than they are for the listener...... it just so happens that the more keen listener picks up on them and that hip sparkle they add to what's happening in the tune ..... where the less keen listener ( mostly non musicians ) pick up on that something feels slick but aren't quite sure why

I wouldn't worry about giving them volume because then they become accents ...the exact opposite of what they are intended to be
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Old 09-08-2013, 11:54 AM
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Default Re: Who hears the Ghost Notes?

Good stuff Pocket and Tony. As to whether ghost notes are necessary in a louder live situation the answer is "it depends" and that, I suspect, is about the stage sound and what everyone else is playing.

There's a live clip of Rosanna where Jeff Porcaro mostly leaves out the ghosts. It sounded like it was an echoey stadium and I suspect JP decided to strip back for a cleaner sound.
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Old 09-08-2013, 12:23 PM
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Default Re: Who hears the Ghost Notes?

If you started to make your ghost strokes louder, your accents would have to be louder in order to keep the same volume difference between them. This could get really messy pretty quickly.

The volume of your backbeat will dictate how low your ghost strokes must be. They can go from "really low" to "barely audible".

There's reason why they are called ghost notes and not just quiet notes. The "you can't hear them but feel them" idea that Whoistony? brought up is spot on.

If you play loud ghost notes they just sound like crap.

Better to not play ghost notes at all than to play them loudly.
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Old 09-08-2013, 05:19 PM
Souljacker Souljacker is offline
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Default Re: Who hears the Ghost Notes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoIsTony? View Post
in my opinion the purpose of a grace note is to be felt and not really heard.... almost implied

sort of space holders.... gap fillers.... a necessary glue that ensures the accented notes are achieving their deserved value

like the feathering of the bass drum they are a support system

they are more for us as players than they are for the listener...... it just so happens that the more keen listener picks up on them and that hip sparkle they add to what's happening in the tune ..... where the less keen listener ( mostly non musicians ) pick up on that something feels slick but aren't quite sure why

I wouldn't worry about giving them volume because then they become accents ...the exact opposite of what they are intended to be
Good post but bear in mind grace notes and ghost notes are separate things.
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Old 09-08-2013, 05:59 PM
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Default Re: Who hears the Ghost Notes?

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Originally Posted by Souljacker View Post
Good post but bear in mind grace notes and ghost notes are separate things.
I don't use the term ghost note.... They are all grace notes to me whether granted a distict note value or not

I know all the literal definitions and how the two words are used within the theory world and how " grace" is determined by the value and "ghost" by volume.

They have always been grace notes to me and everyone I have studied with

Not into splitting hairs

Last edited by WhoIsTony?; 09-08-2013 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 09-08-2013, 07:04 PM
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Default Re: Who hears the Ghost Notes?

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Originally Posted by WhoIsTony? View Post
I don't use the term ghost note....
Thank you. Glad there's at least someone else on this forum who calls them all grace notes.
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Old 09-08-2013, 11:07 PM
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Default Re: Who hears the Ghost Notes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoIsTony? View Post
in my opinion the purpose of a grace note is to be felt and not really heard.... almost implied

sort of space holders.... gap fillers.... a necessary glue that ensures the accented notes are achieving their deserved value

like the feathering of the bass drum they are a support system

they are more for us as players than they are for the listener...... it just so happens that the more keen listener picks up on them and that hip sparkle they add to what's happening in the tune ..... where the less keen listener ( mostly non musicians ) pick up on that something feels slick but aren't quite sure why

I wouldn't worry about giving them volume because then they become accents ...the exact opposite of what they are intended to be
In fact, they are the only thing I listen to. I try to track(listen) to the smallest subdivisions that Im playing...My logic being that your time isn't as consistent as when listening to , say, kick and snare...much more space between those usually that can help you lose track of "solid time". I tend to "feel" bigger notes, like quarter notes.........
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Old 09-10-2013, 01:53 PM
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Default Re: Who hears the Ghost Notes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pocket-full-of-gold View Post
I've always considered ghosts to be "felt" more than they are "heard" per se. They don't need to be played louder in a live setting as that defeats their purpose in the first place IMHO. They are a nuance, a subtlety, something that adds to the overall feel of the track without the need to dominate it. Their addition or omission can change the overall feel but not necessarily in a way that's obviously audible.

Listen to the great "ghosting masters". The Gadds, the Porcaros, the Jordans and see how they get them to sit just right. They're there if you listen hard for them, but not all that noticeable if you're not actively searching for them. Exactly how a "ghost" note should be IMHO. They lend to a feel, not necessarily to a distinct and identifiable sound in their own right....that's what your accents and backbeats are for.
I would agree Jules... however, playing the same groove with and without the ghost notes makes a huge difference in terms of feel, even if you don't really hear them...

The ghosts also have to fit the song IMO, you cannot play "Back in Black" with ghost notes.

The great thing about playing ghosted notes is that you're using a higher subdivision value constently, which help for note value accuracy, they're like a "metronome" set to 16th notes pulse, so even if the audience don't hear them, you do, at least your hands do...
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Old 09-10-2013, 03:47 PM
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Default Re: Who hears the Ghost Notes?

It depends on what your interpretation of a grace note is... It really frustrates me when you hear drummers doing a kind of dragged buzz roll in between their snare upbeats, or just throwing in grace notes when they're not needed... If you're going to include grace notes, then make sure they're worth it and if they're relevant to the song and definately make sure you're not cluttering up the groove by putting them in unecessarily... Drummer's always dont appreciate the sound of Silence!

Sometimes if you can't hear them, but it helps the song groove, then put them in! A grace note brings lovely dynamic quality to a back beat, if applied correctly. I always say to my students - interpret the feel of the song. Maybe Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit doesn't necessarily need a grace note back beat...

If you're doing covers live, bring your own flare to it in the style of the original song - just make sure the rest of your groove doesn't suffer!
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Old 09-10-2013, 10:25 PM
newoldie newoldie is offline
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Default Re: Who hears the Ghost Notes?

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Originally Posted by Torkerz View Post
It depends on what your interpretation of a grace note is... It really frustrates me when you hear drummers doing a kind of dragged buzz roll in between their snare upbeats, or just throwing in grace notes when they're not needed... If you're going to include grace notes, then make sure they're worth it and if they're relevant to the song and definately make sure you're not cluttering up the groove by putting them in unecessarily... Drummer's always dont appreciate the sound of Silence!

Sometimes if you can't hear them, but it helps the song groove, then put them in! A grace note brings lovely dynamic quality to a back beat, if applied correctly. I always say to my students - interpret the feel of the song. Maybe Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit doesn't necessarily need a grace note back beat...

If you're doing covers live, bring your own flare to it in the style of the original song - just make sure the rest of your groove doesn't suffer!
It seems like every drummer on YouTube trying to show off a snare or drumset does exactly what you said-- throwing in a jillion grace notes and buzzes with the hat going to create an audio hot mess! Just like every kid that shows up at the GC wants to show off how many and how fast they can play doubles on the bass drum. Quality over quantity seems to be the exception, clean playing being a rarity.
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:55 PM
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Torkerz Torkerz is offline
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Default Re: Who hears the Ghost Notes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by newoldie View Post
It seems like every drummer on YouTube trying to show off a snare or drumset does exactly what you said-- throwing in a jillion grace notes and buzzes with the hat going to create an audio hot mess! Just like every kid that shows up at the GC wants to show off how many and how fast they can play doubles on the bass drum. Quality over quantity seems to be the exception, clean playing being a rarity.
Exactly... I think it's the whole mentality of the '5 minutes of fame'. I think with shows like American Idol, the endless modern music schools that have errupted over the past 20 years, Youtube etc. I just gives people this mentality that everything is a competition, and further encourages the egotistical side of their playing. This then results in throwing in things like grace notes or fills really fast and then looking round for recognition straight after... I myself went to a Music Academy for drummers in London. It was just depressing environment to be in really... I suppose they say competition is a healthy thing and the music business can be quite ruthless, but half the time, it's who you know anyway!

Plus thre's a lot of parents who will buy their kid a studio, a kit, all the best gear to give them 'the chance I never had'... It really doesn't encourage a good message.

As I've said in my previous post, sometimes getting a song note for note is great, however people aren't drum Machines... Drummers like Tony Williams were recognised not only for their insane chops, but also for their musicality and the ability to think outside the box - Maybe not playing a standard like it should sound, but with his own flare! I know Tony used to get a lot of stick from a lot of Jazz drummers for the way he played, but I guess he had the last laugh. I suppose the lines get a bit blurred between being creative and showing off, but I guess being reserved and modest are good skills to have. Half the time, any artist just wants a solid groove. A drummer who's all over the place and throwing people off with 7/16 over 4 measures aint gonna get hired again...

I think these days, drummers are able to carbon copy their idols, but not create like them. Maybe the restrictions of modern music may be the problem - I don't know - but as Dave Weckl said - It's not a sports competition - it's creative expression
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Old 09-16-2013, 08:19 PM
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Odd-Arne Oseberg Odd-Arne Oseberg is offline
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Default Re: Who hears the Ghost Notes?

In the right dynamic situation you'll hear them, but even if you don't most of the time they influence how things feel and how you approach the other notes of a groove.

If the other musicians lay down or go up and down in dynamics the ghosts will sort of weave in and out, right.

Same thing happens when playing accented hi-hat patterns, or like with a guitar player playing fuck rhythms, where he can make all the 16s heard, or chose some or none of them.

Ghosts in between are different than those that fall with something else. It's like feathering with a bass player.

Either way. The world would be a much less interesting place without ghost notes. Other instruments have them, too.
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Old 09-18-2013, 07:22 PM
Zunardo Zunardo is offline
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Default Re: Who hears the Ghost Notes?

I hesitate to ask ......
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Old 09-18-2013, 11:22 PM
VedranS VedranS is offline
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Default Re: Who hears the Ghost Notes?

Apparently it takes something really really silly for me to peek out of lurker mode for a second, sorry I'm a terrible terrible poster.

Anyway, Odd-Arne Oseberg, you might want to re-read your post and possibly edit it, though I'm personally laughing my rear end off and I think it's fine just the way it is.
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Old 09-25-2013, 09:51 AM
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  #17  
Old 09-25-2013, 09:52 AM
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Default Re: Who hears the Ghost Notes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Odd-Arne Oseberg View Post
or like with a guitar player playing fuck rhythms, where he can make all the 16s heard, or chose some or none of them.
.
Sorry but I thought that was genius! I think the above is now going to be used for anything that isn't 4/4 ahahahaha
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