Tag Archives: ostinato

Improvising with an Ostinato

Let’s play with a repeated pattern called an ostinato (a constantly recurring musical fragment). When improvising with an ostinato, you can play the ostinato in either hand, but let’s try one in the right hand.  Tune your harp or set your levers for the key of C; with your right hand, put finger 3 on g (just above middle c), finger 2 on a, and your thumb on the high d .

Practice playing these three notes in succession, either from the top down or the bottom up (see which you like best). When you can do this with a smooth, rippling motion, you are ready to add you left hand.

Use your left hand to play chords and single notes alternating below and above your right hand. Start simply, by “dropping in” single long notes, once per ostinato pattern.  When this is easy, try open chords (for example, d a d, or an octave plus the fifth) in the bass. Have more fun by crossing over to play closed chords, thirds or sixths in the treble.

It doesn’t matter what you play, as long as you like it. Strive to keep the right hand going smoothly as you let the left hand roam. Remember to use some repetition in your left hand to create structure (if you like it, do it again).

Give it a try–it’s fun!

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This post is adapted from material that I originally published in the ezine, Notes from the Harp.