Rasgueados serve two very important purposes. The first being a technical exercise, the second being a way with which to add rhythmic variety to a harmonic accompaniment. Rasgueado is a Spanish verb which means to rake. Let us first discuss the physical aspects of the rasgueado.
To perform this technique let’s first learn to fight our natural tendencies. Natural tendencies? It is a natural tendency that when you first begin to use rasgueados that you lead with the i finger. Here’s what I mean. First rest the thumb of the right hand on the low E string. Next, flick out c ( pinky), a, m, then, i. Do not worry about hitting all the strings with each finger, the strumming effect of the rasgueado is more percussive than anything else. But as you can probably tell it does not feel natural to lead with the c finger. The i wants to be the one to go first.
This is the basic four stroke rasgueado. It should be done slowly at first in order for the strokes to begin to feel natural then and only then should the speed be increased until it becomes lightning fast. This brings me to the next point. When doing the rasgueado, even at lightning speeds there should be four distinct strums heard. Try this experiment. Using your two index fingers like drumsticks as fast as you can tap 4 times on the table. If you did it right you should have heard four distinct taps not just one. The same is true with the rasgueado you need to hear those four distinct strums not just one big one, we are not using a pick.
As you have probably seen by now that there is a very important technical exercise to be found in the study of rasgueados. The first being right hand finger independence, this will aid us in the quest for the perfect arpeggios. The second important technical aspect of the rasgueado is that it trains the extensors. In my very first article (Rock Guitarist as Classical Guitarist) )(at least I think it was that one) I discussed that from the time we were born we have always grasped things, thereby training the flexors, but we have never had the opportunity to train the flexors. Weak flexors are the reason fast scales seem to elude us. It’s not the flexing that we have a problem with but our inability to prepare the finger again to execute the next stroke. Rasgueados can and do help.
The four stroke rasgueados are not the end to a great technique. There are three stroke rasguados, two stroke, five stroke, six and seven stroke. There are even rasgueados that incorporate thumb strokes. Below is a list that incorporates the easiest rasgueados, practice these and next week we shall talk about the notation of rasgueados and I will give you some of the more difficult ones.
Four stroke rasgueado: c, a, m, i
Three stroke: a, m, i
Two stroke: m, i