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This refers to the technique of playing a steel- or nylon-string guitar by plucking the strings only with the fingertips, fingernails, or fingerpicks, which are attached to the fingers, with the goal being to perform as many polyphonic parts of an arrangement as possible using the fingers of the right hand (for right-handed players). Music which has been written and/or arranged for fingerstyle playing may include artistic elements such as chords, melody lines, arpeggios, artificial harmonics, and even tapping on the body of the guitar in a percussive manner. The very definition of fingerstyle playing precludes the use of an traditional pick, which is most often referred to as flatpicking.

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