What is a rasgueado?
A rasgueado is a method of strumming the strings of the guitar but it is much more complicated than the typical western style strumming. Because you use all five of your fingers, you are able to add an innumerable amount of rhythmic variations and patterns.
Are there different types of rasgueados?
Yes there are. There can be rasgueados that are simply embellishments or can serve as an integral part of the rhythmic structure of your song. And there are many different finger combinations you can use to execute a rasgueado.
What is the most important part of playing a rasgueado?
That really depends on the purpose of its use. For example, if you are trying to build tension you want to focus on evenness in the finger movement (much like the importance of a tremolo) with increasing volume. If you'd rather use it as a quick explosive technique that livens your song you'll need to practice the attack and the power with which you attack.
How do I play a rasgueado?
Well let's start with the movement of the fingers. You want to maintain looseness in your hand so you don't restrict your movement and so that it is easier to stay in a continuous, fluid motion. If you want a noncontinuous rasgueado, rest your thumb on the low E string. Starting with your pinky, release it explosively across as many strings as you can. Follow it with the ring finger immediately and then the middle finger and then the index. Don't worry about hitting all strings, no one is counting. What you're looking for is the rattatattat of the strings. It should sound explosive. We'll look below for technical notes of the continuous rasgueado. There are many, many combinations of finger movements.
Remember that the exercises here are to condition your fingers to be able to more easily perform rasgueados, they are not necessarily found in traditional Flamenco guitar. They are simply an exploration of incorporating flamenco styling into your playing.
Technical Notes for Ornamental Rasgueado
- fingers, while relaxed, should shoot like a ballistic across the strings to create and explosive sound.
- the thumb can rest on the 6th string but it is not absolutely necessary
- movement should occur from the knuckle of the hand, not the finger... in other words the fingers should end almost, if not completely, straight after extension
- energy should come from the fingers and the hand, not necessarily the wrist (if your thumb is resting on the 6th string, you won't be able to generate movement from the wrist anyway)
Technical Notes for Continuous Rasgueado
- With the single and the 2 finger exercises, you'll note that the rasgueado exercises that include the pinky and the ring finger are more awkward. This is normal. It may feel a bit more comfortable if you make sure that you're bending your pinky and your ring finger at the hand and not breaking it mid-finger at the middle joint.
- And try not to lock the pinky but keep it relaxed.
- Also if you do make a fist, you should almost really flick your fingers out as if you were flicking someone.
- This certainly will create more volume if that's the effect you're going for.
- In the 5 finger rasgueado, especially when the thumb follows the index down and then back up, at the bottom point the hand should pivot so it faces towards the back of the guitar. Then it should sweep back up. Think of moving it in a figure 8.
- A lot of the movement of the rasgueado is similar to the tremolo technique. Practice both and try to find those similarities.
- In the 4 finger rasgueado with the t x i t pattern. I have it written that the last t motion can come up. You can also rake the strings with the thumb on the way down as well... anyway try it you'll see the difference. If the exercises seem odd or awkward, give them some time and try to keep up with them. Remember these are to help build your attributes and coordination.
- Start slow and build up speed. Your goal is to have your rasgueado sound like one continuous stroke.
Further Study on The Art of Rasgueado