Beginner Techniques for Percussive / Flamenco Guitar


The definition of the term percussion is surprisingly loose. Merriam-Webster and Oxford have more scholarly ways of putting this, but basically, if the thing makes a sound when you smack it, it’s percussion.

No instrument transcends the barrier between string and percussion like the guitar. (Although the ukulele comes in at a close second, as you can see in James Hill’s Amazing Ukulele Drumbeat Technique.) The drum sounds you can get from guitar are so deep and genuine that when you listen to flamenco greats like Manitas de Plata, or the more modern duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, it’s hard to believe they don’t have a secret drummer boy stashed away somewhere backstage. If you’ve got an acoustic guitar—particularly a classical guitar with nylon strings—here are some beginner techniques for unleashing your guitar’s latent drum kit.

Technique One: Rumba

This is the first technique covered in the video above.

Percussive-Guitar-1-revised

Technique Two: Rasqeado

This is the second technique covered in the video above.

Perc-2-revised

droberts@makingmusicmag.com'

About Drew Roberts

Drew Roberts is digital editor of Making Music magazine. He writes articles, produces videos, dabbles in piano, and does stop motion animated text.

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