The nature of chromatin as regular succession of nucleosomes has gained iconic status. However, since most nucleosomes in metazoans are poorly positioned it is unknown to which extent bulk genomic nucleosome repeat length reflects the regularity and spacing of nucleosome arrays at individual loci. We describe a new approach to map nucleosome array regularity and spacing through sequencing oligonucleosome-derived DNA by Illumina sequencing and emergent nanopore technology. In Drosophila cells, this revealed modulation of array regularity and nucleosome repeat length depending on functional chromatin states independently of nucleosome positioning and even in unmappable regions. We also found that nucleosome arrays downstream of silent promoters are considerably more regular than those downstream of highly expressed ones, despite more extensive nucleosome phasing of the latter. Our approach is generally applicable and provides an important parameter of chromatin organization that so far had been missing.