The Rasgueo

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Downward Rasgueo

Now we come the rasgueo itself. Instead of just the index finger we are going to do a downstroke with the three fingers a, m, and i. As you strike the strings, try to make distinct sounds—it is not a miscel-laneous scrape but three separate events.

To make this clear, first count this line to feel the rhythm:

The fingers go down in succession

It is easier sometimes to make word syllables like this that express the rhythm.

The next step is to prepare the left hand with a complete E chord, and to play the downstrokes for each finger as indicated.

I have not included arrows because all strokes are downward.

Notice that the three fingers moving down time with the “ta-ta tum.” The other chords are simple downstrokes.

Developing the Fingers

It is important to practice the rasgueo pattern extensively. At first the fingers will tend to scrape down together, because the ring finger, a, doesn’t want to separate from the middle finger. Then, with practice, it becomes possible to get three clear sounds.

To unlock the ring finger, there is an excellent exercise for developing dexterity and indepen-dence.

• In a sitting position, place your right hand above your right knee. Make a fist.

• Flick out the little finger.

• Now flick out the ring finger. This is the hard one.

• Finally flick out the middle and then the index fingers.

Four-Finger Rasgueo

Now comes the four-finger rasgueo, starting with the little finger. I have used the letter l for this finger. After thorough practice of the three finger pattern, this will seem easier. However,without the prior work to free the ring finger, it becomes a meaningless scrape. Following the example above (rhythm of Malguenas), we have a triplet instead of the two sixteenth notes.

Expressed in words, tum ta-ta tum ta-ta tum becomes tum tiddly tum tiddly tum. The four downward strokes time to the tiddly tum. It is still important to try for clear sounds. Here it is in notation:

As before, all strokes are in a downward direction.

Once you can play this, try the Malaguena study that follows. I have simplified the notation in the same way.

Study Note

Although most of this study is rasgueado, there are some short segments of single notes (punteado). For simplicity, I have marked these with a v mark over the notes. Try to keep the count of three going throughout.

A. Here is the first segment of single notes marked with v.

Down and Up Rasgueo

After practicing the downward rasgueo and working on separating the fingers, it becomes possible to learn a form of rasgueo that is perhaps the most important—the one that involves an immediate upstroke following the downward movement of the fingers.

The rasgueo for Malaguenas started on a weak beat and ended on a strong one. Like the di-di-di-da which forms the letter “V” in Morse code, the l, i, and m fingers were followed by the index finger on a strong beat. In contrast, the rasgueo that we are about to learn starts on a downbeat. Here is how it would look in notation:

The important thing is that the four strokes, three down and one up, are evenly spaced with a slight extra stress on the first ring finger downstroke. You can try it first away from the guitar so as to have it clearly in mind. Here are the steps:

• In a sitting position place your right hand above your right knee. Make a fist.

• Flick out the ring finger.

• Now flick out the middle finger.

• Flick out the index finger.

• Pull the index finger back toward you.

The timing should be an even one-two-three-four with a slight extra push on the one.

It becomes apparent now why it was necessary to prepare the fingers with the Malaguena rasgueo. The all-important secret is to develop the ability to do the ring finger downstroke separated from the middle finger. It is hard at first, but comes with practice.

Now let’s try it on the guitar. The rasgueo is followed by simple upstrokes and downstrokes, keeping a regular rhythm.

Before playing, count out the rhythm as above. Then try playing the pattern, making the individual strokes as clear as possible. Then, as your tempo increases, you will develop the even sound of a good rasgueo.

For practice, here are some typical introductory rasgueado sequences.

Rhythm of Soleares

The soleares is one of the best known flamenco forms. It is a serious form, but a fast version of it developed into the popular bulerias, a humorous gypsy dance involving clowning gestures and steps.

Here is a soleares introduction, followed by typical falsetas. The 12 beats of the rasgueado segment are normally accented on 3, 6, 8, and 10, and the 11 and 12 beats are weak or silent.

Study Notes, Soleares

A. In the opening rasgueado, written in 12/4, remember to stress 3, 6, 8, and 10.

B. The falsetas are written in 3/4 because it is easier to read and understand this way, even though there is still a feeling of 12. Observe the accent where marked by the symbol >.


The farruca alternates between A minor and E7 harmony, with falsetas separating the rhythm passages.

Study Notes, Farruca

A. For simplicity, I have shown the chords in blocks. You may wish to practice the rasgueado first on a single chord, then make the changes. Note that the first line is played twice.

B. The first four notes of the falseta are slurred. Play the first note with the thumb, ham-mer the second note, and pull off the remaining two. It sounds difficult but it actually does make it easier.

C. All four notes are slurred here. Play the first, hammer the second, and pull off the remaining two. Try to keep them even as written.

D. Finger the D minor chord 0,2,3,1, instead of the more usual 0,2,4,1. Then for the chord at the beginning of the next measure simply, add the little finger on the G and take it off for the following chord.

E. This sign indicates a golpe or tap. If you do not have a plastic tap plate on your guitar, I suggest using the fleshy side of the thumb for the percussive sound in order not to damage the face of your guitar.



Lover of Nature said...

hi really nice work dear....keep it up....

Lover of Nature said...

hi really nice work dear....keep it up....

Lover of Nature said...

Pamela Nickens said...

You can really enjoy your guitar by simply practicing well and of course though the help of rock band instructional DVDs. It contains step by step procedure as well as tips and techniques.

Nancy Cowan said...

Great job!