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Thread: What is the difference between a "Ghost note" and a "rest"?

  1. #1
    Registered User tucker97325's Avatar
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    What is the difference between a "Ghost note" and a "rest"?

    I'm just curious to know what the difference between these two is. Especially in terms of drumming, since the explanation I read was "the drummer goes through the motion of playing the note, but doesn't." To me, that sounds like a rest. But, I'm sure there is some subtle difference I'm missing.
    "It ain't what you play man! Its how you play it."
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  2. #2
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    A ghost note is played but generally at a much quieter volume than main beats.

    I'm not sure where the defintion of making a motion to play a note but then not playing it comes from. That sounds like nonsense to me, what would be the point?

    You might as well have a drummer without a kit and when he plays nothing at all except pretending to play, you can tell everyone he is a ghost drummer...

    A rest is a rest.


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    I dunno if this is a competent explaination but to me a ghost note is rhythmically implied ,is present , not actually played, but... is heard aurally in relation to the music it interacts with. You might well ask what's he talkin about ,well it is a bit difficult to explain Take for example a normal 4/4 beat where the snare is played on the 2 & 4 ,if one of the snare beats is left out you still hear it in your head psycho-acoustically because we are conditioned to hear it,but then that would be a rest.I think I'll get off the merry-go-round now ,I'm getting dizzy!
    Last edited by Spino; 05-29-2006 at 09:36 AM.

  4. #4
    Registered User tucker97325's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UKRuss
    A ghost note is played but generally at a much quieter volume than main beats.

    I'm not sure where the defintion of making a motion to play a note but then not playing it comes from. That sounds like nonsense to me, what would be the point?

    You might as well have a drummer without a kit and when he plays nothing at all except pretending to play, you can tell everyone he is a ghost drummer...

    A rest is a rest.

    Ok, so apparently I've just read the wrong definitions of a ghost note. I think I actually did read one or two that mentioned ghost notes being played "very softly, so as to almost be silent". I should mention, the first time I ever heard of a ghost note was working with PowerTab, which is why I started looking for a definition.
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  5. #5
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    Well, it seems that website defines ghost notes in one way. Kind of conjured up an image of troops of drummers where they all hit using large strokes to hit large drums and so it is easier to keep the rhythm by still moving the arm but not actually striking, like the japanese drummers.

    But i still think of ghost notes as actual hits but softer, in the background, type hits.

  6. #6
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    I can't comment on drummers, but I've always considered ghost notes on other instruments as notes you meant to play, but they came out muted. You hear a lot in solo guitar if the guy is playing really fast and not everything is comming out as clean as he probably intended. The notes are all still there, just some are muffled, or a 'ghost' of what they should have been...of course that means you can also intentionally ghost stuff on guitar as well. Apparently this happens on horns in a similar way if you finger the note but it doesn't completely come out...but I don't know a lot about horns.

  7. #7
    Registered User tucker97325's Avatar
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    Ok, so ghost notes are played, but played very softly or sort of muted. I guess I thought that was what these instructions were for;
    p Piano (Soft)
    pp Pianissimo (Very Soft)
    ppp ? (Softest)

    But now that I think about it, I guess they would apply more to an entire staff, rather than a single note??? Like said, I only just recently heard of ghost notes.
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  8. #8
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    I think those marking in a score would indicate deliberate notes and how thecomposer meant them to be played.

    Next time I'm in the studio I'll see if I can record something to demonstrate what I mean drumming wise.

    Easier to hear than to explain, kind of thing.

    It does sound like there is more than one understanding or definition.

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