Definition and background:
A muted or dampened notes that has rhythm but often no discernible pitch. It is often thought of as an implied note in a musical phrase and can be not performed or performed only faintly for effect. The use of this effect with the electric guitar and bass guitar is a more aggressive sound than with the wind instruments, but the effect still is a rhythmic pulse without a discernible pitch. The false note is indicated by a (parenthesis) around the notehead or with an "X" in place of the notehead, indicating that the note is to be played very quietly, as a ghost. The use of this technique was common in jazz music of the mid-twentieth century with instrumental soloists and in soli sections of big band music and later was used more with the electric guitar and bass guitar in rock and funk music. False notes can be found in a wide range of genres.Also dead note; ghost note.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary