Tag Archives: scales

Improvise with Pentatonic Runs

Are you stuck with improvisation? This is a really fun thing to try.  Even a beginner can improvise with pentatonic runs and make beautiful music on the harp.

First, make sure your harp is tuned in C. Now, find the lowest group of 3 white strings on your harp; using fingers 3, 2, and 1, place your left hand on those strings. Now place your right hand, using fingers 2 and 1, on the group of two white strings right above your left hand. Got that? Good.

Here’s what you’re going to do first. Play your left hand. Now play your right hand, but as you play you must replace your left hand on the next group of 3 strings above where your right hand is playing. By the time you play your left hand, your right hand should be replacing on the next 2 strings.

Keep doing this all the way up the harp. Play the last complete group of strings with whichever hand you’re on, and immediately replace those fingers.

Now play the same groupings from the top down. Go up; go down. Really enjoy the wave of going “up and down the staircase” using just the white strings.

Okay, when you have gone up and down until you’re completely satisfied with how fun and easy it’s become, try this:

Switch hands. In other words, use your right hand to play the groups of 3 and your left hand to play the groups of 2. Easy? Good.

Now break out, girl(boy)friend! Play the same sets of notes, with alternating hands, all over the harp, in any order, sometimes together as chords, sometimes not. Do whatever you want, but enjoy the sound of every note and always land those “cookie cutters” of 2 or 3 fingers.

Hey, this (pentatonic) improv is also an exercise . . . aren’t I the tricky one? Aim for fluidity, replacing your fingers as a unit, and closing all your fingers. It should feel good!

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