- Don’t use pentatonics exclusively – This gets old fast. Pentatonics work best when they are mixed in with other harmonic language and textures. By combining pentatonics with chord-scale relationships, you can create countless paths to navigate changes.
- Start inside, take it out, then bring it back in – Pentatonics create tension. For this tension to be the most effective, it must be both set up and resolved. In the same way that melodies can be phrased by dynamics/touch to create an arc, so can harmonic activity. Think about the basic plot of any story when shaping pentatonic-featured lines
- Use pentatonics in sequences – Especially when using more outside pentatonics (those with the least common chord tones in relation to the sonority they are being played over), they can be supported more effectively by using repeated melodic patterns. For example, let’s look at a 1-2-3-5 sequence. Here’s one way it could look.
- Experiment with pentatonics ½ step above and below the basic tonality – For example, if you are playing over a G dominant 7 chord, try using a Gb pentatonic. This is the most “outside” pentatonic you can play over this sonority. It shares no chord tones with the G mixolydian scale.
Here is the continuum of inside to outside pentatonic scales
This information has been derived from “Pentatonic Scales for Jazz Improvisation” by Ramon Ricker