In the world of music ghost notes exist as sounds that are played, that provide texture and nuance, but are not necessarily part of the musical score. They are not ignorable either. If someone didn’t play the ghost notes, they would be missed. They are an integral part of the music.
In a world in which right and wrong, black and white, good and bad, real and unreal, and other binary paradigms are continually promoted it is important to have practices and analogies that point to nuance, the space in between things, and the reality that not everything is fit into a this or that system. Here’s one way to think about this:
Real notes exist. For sure. No questions asked. It is easily observable, and very few people would question it. The notes of the melody of a song that are played are in this category.
Unreal notes do not exist. No questions asked. It is easily observed to not be there, and very few people would question it. In their place we hear only silence. The notes that are neither written nor played in the melody of a song would be in this category.
Ghost notes live in between the real and the unreal. They are questioned as to their existence, as they are not easily observable. They often melt into the surrounding real notes. But they are the glue, the connective tissue between the silence and the song. They provide character, commentary, and fluidity, to what would otherwise by a singular melodic line.
We can rely on the fact that real notes will make themselves known and notes that are not real will be equally as evident. To the contrary, we must pay attention to hear the ghost notes. We must practice harder as a player to control our ghost notes. Otherwise the music will sound binary – the notes being either real or not – and we will lose the ability to fill the spaces in between.
The same is true outside of the world of music.