The rasgueado, also called rasgueo, is very characteristic to flamenco guitar music. Once mastered it can be one of the most impressive parts of flamenco guitar techniques, adding an intensive amount of rhythmic, strummed variations to your guitar playing, to build up tension by steady finger movements or to exhilarate your song with a quick explosive attack.
A rasgueado is produced by outward movements or flicks of the right hand fingers, by downstrokes and an upstroke done in a variety of ways, using two, three or even four fingers. The objective is not necessarily to project a high volume, but to produce a percussive and bright stroke as a rhythmic roll, just like the feet of the flamenco dancers. Each finger of the right hand is given a specific name, p for pulgar or thumb, i for indice or index finger, m for medio or middle finger, a for anillo or ring finger and q for meñique or pinky. Each finger needs to attack the strings cleanly in a hitting motion. Only your fingers should move and not you hand, your hand should remain still. The flick of the finger, touching the first four or five strings, is produced from the middle joint, not from the large joint or knuckle of the hand. The downstroke of the finger ends in and more or less straight extension. The thumb is anchored lightly on the 6th string to stabilize your right hand. Never let any finger rest on the soundboard.
When playing a one finger rasgueado with the index finger or a three finger rasgueado with a-m-i, fingers are placed at the base of the thumb to build up tension. When the thumb rests on the 6th strings, the flicking downstroke of the fingers touch the 5th bass string. When playing a 4 finger rasgueado, the fingers a-m-i-q are placed at the palm of the hand and not the thumb, followed by individual finger flicks. To play a continuing rasgueado, the downstrokes of the fingers are followed by an upstroke of the index finger, touching the treble strings and returning to the inside of the thumb to rebuild tension. Many flamenco guitarists have developed several personal variations to the these very basic rasgueados, some use of 4 stroke rasgueados i-a-m-i, beginning with an upstroke of the index finger, others use 5 stroke rasgueados i-q-a-m-i or q-a-m-i-i, starting or ending with the upstroke of the index finger.