review: Art of Rasgueado by Ioannis Anastassakis

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Aaron

review: Art of Rasgueado by Ioannis Anastassakis

Post by Aaron » Sat Oct 31, 2009 9:04 pm

Art of Rasgueado by Ioannis Anastassakis is an 80 page book published by Mel Bay. It purports to include all the commonly used rasgueado patterns in the world of flamenco guitar. The listing is, to me, surprisingly small. I have used and seen others use patterns not included here. The introductory points of the book are excellent and clarify that flamenco is not traditionally clarified in terms of pedagogy and most guitarists had to figure out their own ways to accomplish things. Therefore, there are many variations that achieve the same musical effect.

Instead of focusing on potential rasgueados or on the theory and concept of them, this book primarily discusses specific patterns known to be used by professional players, often with specific credit to the player who uses a particular pattern. With each pattern taking at least a page, sometimes two or three, we are dealing with less than a couple dozen total patterns in this book. There are some weird issues that are common to flamenco books, such as including the open 6th string in notation and tablature even though the text says clearly to rest the thumb on that string the entire time.

I would summarize the situation broadly as: each finger, including the thumb, can strum up and down and any pattern that is feasible may be used. Often, a three-movement pattern may be played in a four-note rhythmic situation or vice versa, so the pattern isn't always tied to the rhythm although simple pairings are common as well. It is interesting to note that any back-of-nail stroke is more typical for accents, thus up-stroke thumb is more commonly on the beat than downstroke, in contrast to traditional American folk guitar strumming. The issue for classical guitarists is to recognize the difference between a rhythmically imprecise rasgueado ornament versus a rhythmically specific strum pattern. This is basically all you need to know, and unless you want to know exactly what certain flamenco guitarists are doing, you don't necessarily need this book now.

In conclusion, this fine but short book describes this one aspect of guitar as it is, not necessarily as it could or should be. The attitudes presented are fine, however, and the layout is clear and it is generally well done, aside from a couple typos (one wrong note, one wrong up instead of down marking).

werry

Re: review: Art of Rasgueado by Ioannis Anastassakis

Post by werry » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:10 am

Thank you Aaron for this interesting review.

About the 6th string : During rasgueados I often lift my RH thumb just a little. I don't care about the theory for this matter, if I need the string, I use it.

Aaron

Re: review: Art of Rasgueado by Ioannis Anastassakis

Post by Aaron » Sun Nov 01, 2009 4:33 pm

werry wrote:Thank you Aaron for this interesting review.

About the 6th string : During rasgueados I often lift my RH thumb just a little. I don't care about the theory for this matter, if I need the string, I use it.
Oh sure, except there's no such thing as "need" in this style. It makes a difference but it doesn't make the music function or not. In flamenco, there are times the hand is definitely free and the 6th string is played and other times definitely not. But in this book, the text describes both situations but every example includes notation for the 6th string, thus the explicit instruction contradicts the notation. At the end of the day, any player may rest on the 6th or not, depending upon their goal. This book being descriptive of real-world practice is clear that much of the time (certainly not all the time) real flamenco guitarists rest pulgar on 6 and do not play it.

werry

Re: review: Art of Rasgueado by Ioannis Anastassakis

Post by werry » Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:17 pm

OK, that's pretty much what I expected.
One more question; I noticed a huge difference in rasgueado technique between Juan Martin and Juan Serrano :
J. Martin nearly always starts with the little finger (s) whereas J. Serrano always starts with the index finger (i).
The result of this being that the first stroke after the rasgueado (in the case of using the index finger (i)) can only be an upstroke with J. Martin and it is most of the time a downstroke with J. Serrano.
It works both ways but it gives a quite distinctive difference in feeling.
Any thoughts on that ?

werry

Re: review: Art of Rasgueado by Ioannis Anastassakis

Post by werry » Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:20 pm

Oh yes, I forgot to tell that I was talking about a 4-stroke (or 8-stroke) rasgueado here.

Aaron

Re: review: Art of Rasgueado by Ioannis Anastassakis

Post by Aaron » Mon Nov 02, 2009 4:59 am

Those types of questions are exactly what this book is about. Essentially it has one or two sentences about the significance of each of these approaches, but it puts them out there for you to try and then use how you like. I can't figure out what thoughts anyone could have that your simple post doesn't already make clear. Serrano does it his way precisely to achieve what you are talking about: the down-stroke on the beat. The "Art of" book has these and other variations.

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