Rock ‘N’ Jazz Clinic

Groove Construction

Part 6: Ghost Notes Using an Intertwined Approach

by Jost Nickel

In this month’s lesson we’ll continue working with ghost notes by incorporating them into grooves using an intertwined approach. When using this method, the ghost-note phrasing is interlocked with the bass drum pattern.



Let’s introduce the four-step approach. We’ll start with a hand pattern using 8th notes on the hi-hat and snare drum accents on beats 2 and 4.Ghost Notes 1

Now add a bass drum pattern taken from the rhythms notated at the end of this lesson. For this example, we’ll use the first measure of Exercise 11. Here’s our isolated bass drum pattern followed by its placement in the groove.

Ghost Notes 2

Next add ghost notes on all of the remaining 16th notes.

Ghost Notes 4

Playing all of the 16th notes as ghost strokes can sound good at slower tempos (60–85 bpm) and can be a great challenge when playing at faster tempos. But in general, I suggest omitting some of the quieter strokes to produce a clearer sound. In our final step, we’ll omit any ghost note that occurs directly before or after an accent. In addition, we won’t play more than two consecutive 16ths in a row, as demonstrated in Exercise 5.

Ghost Notes 5

Next we’ll utilize the intertwined approach using the first measure of Exercise 13. Here’s our primary groove with the hands.

Ghost Notes 6

Now take the first measure of Exercise 13 (notated in Exercise 7) and apply it to the bass drum (Exercise 8).

Ghost Notes 7

Play ghost notes on all of the remaining 16ths.

Ghost Notes 9

Next omit the ghost notes before and after the snare accents. Again, the left hand doesn’t play more than two consecutive strokes.

Ghost Notes 10

Here are three sets of one-measure reading exercises that you can use for your bass drum patterns.

Ghost Notes 11

Ghost Notes 13

The intertwined approach is applicable with any bass drum pattern and works as well with grooves where the snare doesn’t accent beats 2 or 4, so apply this method to your own phrases. If you’re interested in checking out more groove ideas, check out my book, Jost Nickel’s Groove Book.

Jost Nickel is a top session and touring drummer in Germany, and he endorses Sonor, Meinl, Aquarian, Vic Firth, and Beyerdynamic.