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Rasgueado (also called Rageo (spelled so or Rajeo), Rasgueo or Rasgeo in Andalusian dialect and Flamenco jargon, or even occasionally Rasqueado) is a guitar finger strumming technique commonly associated with flamenco guitar music. It is also used in classical and other fingerstyle guitar picking techniques. The rasgueado is executed using the fingers of the strumming hand in rhythmically precise, and often rapid, strumming patterns. The important characteristic of this strumming style is the fingernail (outer) side of the finger tips (as opposed to their fleshy inner side) is also used, and in such case, in reverse of the way it is done when the fleshy side of the finger tips is used, namely downward (index, middle, ring and little finger) and upward (thumb).
Before the 19th century, the terms battuto and golpeado were commonly used to describe the same technique. Although originating in the classical tradition, the technique is most often associated with Flamenco guitar. Andrés Segovia tried to remove the use of rasgueado from the classical school, considering it to have been developed "in the noisy hands of the gypsies". Its use in classical music is limited today, but examples of pieces employing rasgueado are Manuel de Falla's "The Miller's Dance" and "Asturias Preludio (Leyenda)" by Isaac Albéniz. It is also heard in the Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez. Modern applications of the rasgueado technique can be seen in Luciano Berio's "Sequenza XI", Tristan Murail's solo guitar piece Tellur and Lachenmann's Salut fur Caudwell.
In contrast to ordinary strumming, which is usually done either with a plectrum, or with several fingers at a time, rasgueado generally uses only one digit (finger, thumb, etc.) for each strum; this means that multiple strums can be done more quickly than usual by using multiple digits in quick succession. Furthermore it is also the outer (fingernail) side of the finger tips that is used and, as a result, in that case, the strumming direction is reversed from the usual one, so it's a downstroke for the four fingers and an upstroke for the thumb. Flamenco guitarists often build up their fingernails using layers of silk and superglue to protect the nail from breaking. There is some loss of tonal quality with this practice, but without it, rasgueado is likely to break most fingernails after a time. The wooden table of the guitar is protected from the reinforced nails by a plastic plate called a "golpeador" which is stuck to the front beneath the soundhole.
There are several types of rasgueado, but the two main divisions are those that employ the forearm and thumb in conjunction and those that incorporate only the fingers. Of course, both approaches can be combined to allow for the use of all digits on the hand.
Application of the technique is generally required to achieve the extremely rapid strumming used in flamenco, as well as to play the complex rhythms used in flamenco music. Once learned, the techniques are generally applicable to strumming, and can alter the player's entire approach to strumming and rhythm guitar.
- James Tyler (2001). Stanley Sadie, ed. "Rasgueado" In "The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians". Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Richard Chapman, The New Complete Guitarist, Dorling Kindersley, 2003 (revised edition), pp. 66-67
- Rasgueados Are for Everyone: rasgueado method ebook on Internet Archive