What is Pentatonic Interchange?

Pentatonic interchange is the changing of pentatonic scales over the specific chords. This technique is similar to scalar interchange except that is uses pentatonic scales instead of the major scale patterns. It is however more versatile than scalar interchange and can be used in jazz, blues, rock and pop. In this lesson, we shall apply this over the same 12 bar D Blues progression introduced earlier.

In the previous lesson on scalar interchange, we established that D Blues essentially changes between the G major, C major and D major keys. For this lesson, we will be using the D major pentatonic over the D7 chord. Similarly, we will also play the G major pentatonic and A major pentatonic over the G7 and A7 respectively.

These pentatonic scales contain some of the chord tones of the underlying chord. By using these pentatonic scale, we’ll definitely land on some target notes without consciously targeting any note specifically.

The Trouble with Pentatonics

There are 5 pentatonic scale fingering patterns in a single key, yet only the major pentatonic and minor pentatonic patterns have official names. In the next lesson entitled ‘The Hefni Pentatonic System’, I will be introducing a different way of classify the pentatonic scales. Nonetheless, we will be using the 3 pentatonic scales shown below for this lesson. You may ignore the names for now but instead just focus on the shapes.


D major pentatonic scale at the 5th fret. We will use this scale shape over D7. 

Also known as the Egyptian Scale. 

G major pentatonic scale at the 5th fret. We will use this shape over G7.

Also known as the Egyptian scale.

A major pentatonic scale at the 5th fret. Use this shape over A7.

The video below demonstrates how we can use various pentatonic interchanges over a standard 12 bar blues in D.

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