The other night I played a gig and there was one groove I played that felt really good to me. I noticed that the people I was playing with were really digging it too. It was an Elton John tribute show and the tune was “Tiny Dancer.” The groove I played was definitely more Keith Carlock than Nigel Olsson (Elton’s long-time and most frequent drummer), but it felt so good that I wanted to figure out how to get more use out of it. Here’s what I played:
I felt a bit boxed in with the groove as it was. Yes, it was working, but I didn’t feel free to play my bass drum anywhere I wanted. When faced with a situation like this, I usually devise some practice material to solve the problem.
And hence, “The Ghost Note Groove System #1” was born. I’m taking a Gary Chester-ish approach here, by taking a hand pattern as the basis for a groove and working on bass drum independence against it.
This first worksheet is a PDF with 16 independence exercises and you can download it here: The Ghost Note Groove System 1 Part 1
The bass drum variations selected here were chosen more for musicality than for completeness; I wanted to get just a sampling of the type of independence I’m seeking to figure out the validity of the system.
This does the job. I have a feeling I’m going to like where this takes me, and if so, you can expect some deeper and more complete worksheets on this topic down the road.
Let me know how you like this stuff.
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Lisa Valentino says
Hi Mark: Thanks for posting this idea. As you know I am a big fan of the ghost note, although mine are still not soft enough after a few years of practicing them. My question is: how practical is this exercise? I noted that there are 3 ghost notes in a row, which to me sounds a bit busy (I sang the Elton John tune in my head so see how it works there), and really how often is someone going to want to play three ghost notes in a row? In your opinion is this something that could be used often? Not a judgment please do not get me wrong. I am just wondering how I would use this, or make a good use of it?
Mark Feldman says
Hi Lisa – Good question. I believe that it is actually very practical. The hand pattern used as the basis for this system and those types of patterns are being used more and more by great drummers today. From a technical standpoint, it takes finesse, but if you work on it, there is no doubt that it’s doable. So I truly believe the hand pattern here and other ones like it are useable, playable and realistic for use in one’s playing. In fact, the reason I wrote these exercises was to deepen my ability with the pattern so it becomes even MORE useful to me. You know, me…..I’m pretty practical and I don’t want to waste my precious practice time. So the short answer is : I believe it’s very practical. However, I’ll have to go deeper into practicing this stuff before I can swear by it.