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(Excuse me, maybe it was those beans I ate...)

Guitar Technique Sessions... Your Weekly Strength, Stamina and Dexterity Exercise

Week Number Forty Three August 4, 2005

No, that wasn't a raspberry you heard, that was a word -- rasgueado. It's a technique.

Probably one of the most guitaristic effects you can use -- no other instrument can do it, it's a staple of the flamencist's arsenal of sonic weaponry. Do classical artists use it? Sure, you knew that.

The rasgueado is basically a strum pattern that consists of rapid finger strokes of the right hand. The ear is tricked into hearing a lavish, strenuous, lengthy and full arpeggio. The technique is most often executed as a rapid succession of down strokes. The pattern of fingers is ALMOST unimportant though the most natural is to start on the a, then m, then i.

In the following series of photos, you will see my right hand executing one strum in a rasgueado pattern (Boccherini, but that's unimportant.)


In the first photo, my hand is gathered up in what I always describe to myself as a loose fist.. Photo two is about sixty percent through one stroke of the rasgueado. The a finger has completed, the m finger is in mid travel and my i finger has just started.

Like I said earlier, the rasgueado is totally a guitar thing and derives from the flamenco school of technique. As flamenco is a folk style, although richly documented, it still hasn't been accepted by stodgy old classical music circles to the point that it's peculiarities have been codified into notation. Sure, flamencists have their shorthand, but you'll often find a lack of concensus. Most often when you find a rasgueado notated in a piece of guitar music you'll have a little line like a lightning bolt next to a chord and somewhere nearby you'll find rasg. printed.

Long rasgueado passages will often have a rhythmic pattern notated, but the content of each strum is up to the performer to interpret. There are many permutations of finger, string, volume, duration that the guitarist will need to consider -- what is corrrect? Well, unless you know the composer and have that insight, or you are copying the style of one of the master performers, it's up to you as an artist to bring your own flavor to the piece. I've heard guys play piano transcriptions and use a rasgueado to fill in for a large keyboard arpeggio. If the piece is Spanish romantic, well, go to town!

So, we know the how and the why of the rasgueado. Let's put it into performance.

1.) Preparation: Many players plant their thumbs on the sixth string during the majority of their perfromance time (unless it's in use, naturally) and I have seen a rasgueado performed from this starting point. For the most part, rasgueado's are performed across all six strings -- the intent is to be loud and percussive and what better way to accomplish this than to use all six strings? So the first thing one need do is to un-plant that thumb from the sixth string. (Note the thumb in the first of the series of photos.) Keep the right arm loose, you want to drive the strum from the shoulder as well as the fingers. Back to the thumb -- it can be used as a.) a plant to keep an unwanted string from ringing or b.) use it to rasgueado!

2.) Execution: Volume and percussiveness are the key words and you're going to be starting with the weakest finger of the right hand!!! The weight of the forearm helps drive this strum. The shoulder isn't moving in a great arc, but the arm should be free to move up and down, the elbow more so. The fingers brush the strings in turn, first a, then m, then i.

3.) On Accuracy: Guess what? For one time only you are not going to hear me bellyaching about accuracy! Now that your heart has resumed beating -- here is why. What is important here is NOT that each string is plucked or strummed with equal volume, in rhythm, or with perfectly balanced dynamics. No, I'm not saying be sloppy and careless, but think of flamenco as the punk rock of classical music (at least for the guitar player) -- he is there as a percussive instrument, not just to carry a tune or comp chords. This is manly music played with vigor and intensity and your rasgueado should be the same. What you do want to do is be certain that you are getting the result you want and that the rhythms notated in the music are being adhered to.

Hasta la vista!

Check out these links
The Art of Rasgueado - Paul Magnussen
Interview with Juan Serrano - The master...





What's New? The Two New Albums!





Hey, the new albums are out! That's right, finally a follow-up to the reissue of my old album from the late 1980's and its sequel as well.

Reflecting Pools is a departure for me as it is totally keyboard. Well, the guitar did show up on one track... Reflecting Pools is an ethereal journey into the realm of relaxation. In That Zone is a more classically structured exploration of mood and personality.

Available through

...And containing nine tracks that are relaxing, inspirational -- sounds like a snooze. Not really, this is great stuff to listen to on a rainy afternoon, while with your significant other (nudge, nudge, know what I mean?) Please visit the Reflecting Pools page on this site or


LOW END What's new with the book that came out over a year ago? After being on back-order at for what seemed like a century, it is my understanding that copies are once again shipping. Barnes and Noble's website stocks new coipies of LOW END in an on again/off again mode.

DEEP END, the exciting sequel, is being shopped by my literary agent even as we speak.

The Guitar Sessions:Weekly tech tips and exercises to help the guitarist improve. This feature has really taken off. Each week a new page is posted with either an exercizes to get the left and right hands moving more efficiently and effectively or an interesting piece from the standard repertoire , demonstrating a necessary technical ability. Judging by the hits these pages receive, you guitar players love this feature!

The page is updated every Thursday. Visit the 2004 Archive as well!




My Mission, My Policy

In my opinion, the murder mystery genre reached its zenith in the 1930's and 1940's. The novels penned in those decades were taut, no nonsense stories of people in life and death crises, people who did not flinch when confronted with overwhelming odds or overwhelming emotion. Some of these tales could be hard-edged and hard-boiled, but the heroes invariably had a soft side as well.

I believe that over the years, in an attempt to mimic real life, the writers of murder mysteries--and most other literature, for that matter--have lowered the standards of excellence set by such authors as the gritty Raymond Chandler and the sophisticated Dorothy Sayers. Many authors misinterpret smut for romance and brutality for strength.

My novels aspire to the standards set by the 1940's mystery writers. My tales are as real and grimey as the mean streets that spawned them. Even so, and though they deal with modern issues, you will not find gratuitous sex in my characters' relationships. Sex may be alluded to, but it is never allowed out from behind closed doors. You will find that my books are entertaining to a broad audience--I have had positive comments from teens to grandmothers. One reader was surprised when I told him that there were no obscenities in the book he'd just finished. He hadn't missed them! A good story doesn't need such unnecessary 'embellishment.'

I have conducted book signings at churches, country clubs, libraries and even a street corner (don't ask!) and I've never been called to task for, or ashamed of, my work. Pick up a copy of my latest novel and see if it isn't a good read!

Harry Pellegrin


As a native New Yorker and an American, I am still angered by the cowardly attacks of 9/11. Unless we restore New York City's skyline to its condition prior to September 11th, 2001, the miserable scum who attacked us will have won! Visit and rebuild America!



About My Site:

This site is a way for me to commemorate and celebrate a life and lifestyle that is now extinct. Why extinct? Is it that Thomas Wolfe " You-can't-go-home-again " thing? Is it because life is so much different now that what we experienced in the Bronx in the 60's and 70's is no longer relevant? Yes. No. Yes and no? Definitely maybe ! Why do I always start these little essays with questions?

At first, the main thrust of this site was to promote my book. It is a worthy goal; the book tells a good tale and everyone who has read it finds it entertaining and thought-provoking. With that sole goal, I went live with this site back in August of 2003. What happened next is what makes this site truly valuable.

There are people I grew up with, attended school and with whom I played in bands -- neighbors, friends, good family -- who I hadn't seen since I moved from the Bronx in 1986. Divorce had forced me into exile, time and distance conspired to seemingly turn this into a life sentence. Thank the muses for the internet! This site wasn't live for more than two months before I was reunited with Paul Silvestro , a childhood friend whom I hadn't seen in seventeen years. His brother Larry , the guy who had turned me on to playing guitar and taught me the things about music that matter the most, now with him I had no contact since 1983. Twenty years! Too long. I felt as if a part of my soul had been restored -- a part that had been missing for ages and had long ago been written off. But more was to come.

Anthony Pernice, Art Clement , Mike Moretti -- all reunited to me.

The 1960's weren't good to a number of us -- many of us had our personal demons to exorcise, be it substance abuse or the insidious hedonism of the times. but through it all, we were instilled with a vibe, cast in an artistic mold--call it what you will--but unless these same environmental stimuli are exactly reproduced, there will never be another crop of people quite the same.

This page delves into what we experienced and how we incorporated these experiences into art, music, literature and life . I've paid tribute to my neighborhood, the Wakefield section of the Bronx. The Discords -- Larry Silvestro and Artie Clemente's first band in the early mid-sixties-- they're here with their matching outfits, Fender, Hagstrom and Gretsch guitars plus those impeccably precise five part harmonies.

Of course, there is an homage to Leo Fender and his magnificent designs, the Telecaster © and the Stratocaster ©. I officially declare C.L. Fender an honorary Bronxite. These instruments have literally changed my life and the way we all hear music. Check out this page on my site.

Rory Gallagher, whom I saw play in 1973 and who has influenced me ever since--he has a page here as well. He has gone on now, but the impact he made is still rippling outwards, changing how we interpret the blues.

Untermyer Park in Yonkers and Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx are included on this site. We were kids interested in a good ghost story and both these places were terrific for providing a few innocent and fun goosebumps. Of course this was during the same period of time that Son of Sam was using Untermyer and Pine Street in Yonkers for his own uses... And we didn't know!!!

...and of course, my book!

Please enjoy this site. Nose around. Anyone can find something here to read and get a chuckle.





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