Popping the rasgueado

Submitted by Frederic Marand on

Rasgueado is the well-known technique of flamenco guitar players. Because it sounds strong and can be impressive, one cannot but be tempted to try it on the bass.

However, the sound will typically lack the precision required for a non-solo bass part, especially if included in a slapping or tapping part accompaniment. But there is a trick...

First, how does one perform the rasgueado ? The basic technique is explained in detail for guitar on various sites. The rasqueado article on GuitarPeople by Ioannis Anastassakis, for instance, is both simple and very clear. Now, let's try applying it to bass.

The basic eami formula is executed by starting the right hand (RH) expanding movement from the little finger up to the index. Even more so than on guitar, it lacks a percussive start. The evolved ieami formula starts with the index, then continues with the little finger and back up to the index, which will be folded again while the other RH fingers are deployed. Thanks to the strength in the finger, this technique, although more difficult than the basic eami, provides a better defined sound. On the bass, these finger movements sound like basic finger tapping, which is better.

However, the strings on the bass are much heavier than those on the nylon acoustic guitars used in flamenco, and we tend to need more strength in making them sound. We can do it ! The ieami technique provindes a useful hint: we can start from the index to obtain a better defined start, but we need something brighter than a second index tap on a low string as in ieami. As any bass player will know, this can be obtained either by a thumb slap on a low E or B string, or a pop on a high G string.

On a bass, the rumble caused by the rasgueado means that the sound termination should rather be on a popped high note than on a thumbed low string. In addition, the deploying hand would have a hard time slapping efficiently since during the rasgueado, the thumb is typically resting on the low string or a thumb rest, and the RH wrist is slightly turned outward, meaning the thumb will lack strength. So it's a pop. How can ?

Here is the tip: we need to reverse the movement once more. Just like ieami improves on eami by adding the first stroke by the index then reversing the movement, we can improve on ieami by reversing the rasgueado direction : we will be tapping the strings from the index down to the little finger instead of going from little finger to index as in eami, then finish by reversing the finger direction !

During the finger deployment movement from index to little finger, the index has time to reposition just below the high G string, and with a little practice, it can pop this same note right after the little finger has tapped it, provided a strong double percussion on the highest note sounding during the whole rasgueado, thus providing both a better defined timing and better tonal quality and note height indication than both eami or ieami, both qualities being essential to bass playing.

Try it ! And by all means let me know how you feel about it.

Note that this is tagged for , , and in Technorati. Also note that rasgueado is often erroneously spelled rasaguedo.

Double bass and rasgueado ?

Would this mean one can make an audible rasgueado on a double bass ??? My musings about the bass are usually restricted only to the electric bass guitar. I know Stanley Clarke practices slapping on the double bass, but this is rather extreme. Nice music on your site, by the way.

I am currently recording and posting on a new blog, have a listen and look, tell me what you think. There are some rasgueado if you search for: Soleá por medio. Miguel