“I ain’t scared of no ghosts!” Oops!.. wrong song… but this song does feature a lot of ghosts – ghost notes that is. By the time you master this song you’ll be a true ghost (note) buster! See how many ghosts you can spot in the Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 5 version of Amy Winehouse’s “You know I’m no good.”
Did you spot all the ghost notes? Not sure what a ghost note is? As far as drumming goes, it’s simply a note that is played softly. They are often added to a groove, normally on the snare, to add texture and give a certain feel to the beat. Generally you want to them to blend in to the background of the song & are normally played around the same volume as the hi-hat.
PAradiddle, paRAdiddle, paraDIDdle, paradidDLE
A great way to work on getting the control need to play ghost notes is by working on the following accented paradiddle exercise slowly and carefully. How slowly? I’d suggest starting at 30 or 40bpm. How carefully? You want two distinct sound levels; a loud level for the accented notes and a very soft level for the ghost notes. Nothing in between. Really exaggerate the difference in the sound levels; it’ll will help you to reproduce it in action.
You’ll have noticed that the 3rd and 4th bars are particularly tricky. You won’t need that level of control for grade 5; but for later grades you’ll need to be able to play an accented note immediately followed by a ghost note on the same hand & vice-versa. It’s good to start work on it now. Whilst we mainly play ghost notes with the left hand it won’t harm you to develop the necessary control with your right hand too. The more control we have over the sticks, the more control we have over the whole instrument, the better we sound.
Once you start to gain control over the above exercise, you can practice applying ghost notes to grooves. Pick a groove with some 16th notes on the snare and try different permutations of accented and ghost notes, as in the following exercise (The ghosted notes are the ones with the smaller note head.) :
Are YOU any good?
The main focus of this song is on the ghost notes, the rest of the song is fairly straight forward. Time spent developing your ghost notes is always time well spent. Record yourself playing ghost note grooves and see if you can get the hi-hat and snare drum to really blend together. Check out ghost note masters such as:
- Bernard Purdie – Steely Dan, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, B.B King, Joe Cocker and many more.
- Chad Smith – Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chicken Foot & Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats.
- Steve Gadd – Steely Dan, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Chick Corea, Kate Bush, Paul McCartney and many more.
- Jeff Pocaro – Toto, Cher, Steely Dan, 10cc, America, Michael Jackson, Joe Cocker, Aretha Franklin & many more.
The 2018 version of the Trinity Grade 5 Rock & Pop book is great to work through if you’re around 3 years into your drumming career. You don’t have to take the exam to benefit from the book. The songs are great to work on & fun to play and will help to improve your drumming. In Singapore you can find the book at Robert Piano – Paragon Shopping Centre (and probably their other outlets). It’s also available from Amazon if you’re happy to pay the shipping!
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