A simple yet efficient harmony search (HS) method with a new pitch adjustment rule (NPAHS) is proposed for dynamic economic dispatch (DED) of electrical power systems, a large-scale non-linear real time optimization problem imposed by a number of complex constraints. The new pitch adjustment rule is based on the perturbation information and the mean value of the harmony memory, which is simple to implement and helps to enhance solution quality and convergence speed. A new constraint handling technique is also developed to effectively handle various constraints in the DED problem, and the violation of ramp rate limits between the first and last scheduling intervals that is often ignored by existing approaches for DED problems is effectively eliminated. To validate the effectiveness, the NPAHS is first tested on 10 popular benchmark functions with 100 dimensions, in comparison with four HS variants and five state-of-the-art evolutionary algorithms. Then, NPAHS is used to solve three 24-h DED systems with 5, 15 and 54 units, which consider the valve point effects, transmission loss, emission and prohibited operating zones. Simulation results on all these systems show the scalability and superiority of the proposed NPAHS on various large scale problems.