Mark McKnight
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20 Jonathan Kreisberg Sequences

With singing melodicism and technically advanced sequential development, Jonathan Kreisberg’s unique playing style continues to expand the boundaries of modern ‘straight ahead’ jazz guitar improvisation.

This post outlines 20 significant sequential patterns seen throughout Kreisberg’s recordings as a leader up to and including the album ‘Showdowless’, suggesting relationships and themes which unite each as part of a wider language.

The examples include fingering and harmonic information but leave picking and articulation to individual preference.

To create your own unique sequential vocabulary click here, or to improve your sight reading click here. Otherwise, comment/share/enjoy and please support the artist by purchasing the recordings from which these audio extracts are taken.


Ex 1 – A Child Is Born (3:22)

Highlighted in grey, this 3 note triadic pattern moves through Eb melodic minor and G minor, with a neat pedal tone resolution across beats 5 and 6 of the second bar.

Harmonies reflect accompaniment.


Ex 2 – Summertime (1:42)

The 5 note triad pattern below is performed in C melodic minor, fitting 4 times through each 5/4 bar to create an engaging polyrhythmic effect.  A brief secondary sequence stacks fourths across the guitar’s top 3 strings.

Harmonies reflect accompaniment.


Ex 3 – JuJu (1:44)

Polyrhythms feature again with this bar-crossing augmented pattern, which places the descending 3 note triad figure of Example 2 after a 3 note scale run.

Harmony refers to the parent scale.


Ex 4 – Summertime (3:20)

Kreisberg rejuvenates this standard with a variable 4 note triad pattern, altering the initial G major triad at beat 2 to imply E Dorian.

Bar 2 concludes with the same idea reinterpreted using triplet rhythms, an effect sustained for the following augmented triads.

Note the use of a melodic turn at beat 5 of bar 1 – we’ll see this recurring figure throughout a number of the examples to follow.

Harmonies reflect accompaniment.


Ex 5 – Countdown (1:59)

A straightforward descending and ascending triad pattern.  Notice a further instance of #11 for 5 during bar 2, first seen as part of Example 4.

Harmonies are specific to melodic content.


Ex 6 – A Child Is Born (2:53)

Initially extending the previous sequence to a 9 note pattern, bar 4 returns to the 6 note figure of Example 5.

Harmonies are specific to melodic content.


Ex 7 – JuJu (3:14)

This sequence combines the descending 4 note triad and 4 note melodic turn seen first during Example 4, extending the latter by 1 note to complete a 9 note triplet pattern.

Harmonies are specific to melodic content.


Ex 8 – Sweet and Lovely (2:18)

Extending the previous pattern to 12 notes in bar 1, this line reverts back to the original 9 note form at bar 3, resolving the polyrhythm at the end of bar 5.

Harmonies are specific to melodic content.


Ex 9 – Five Bucks a Bungalow (3:02)

Example 8 is extended to a total of 16 notes through completion of the descending triad figure and a further partial iteration of Example 4’s melodic turn. Triplets are substituted for 8th notes, aligning the pattern over 2 bars of 4/4.

Harmonies are specific to melodic content.


Ex 10 – Michelle (2:51)

Bar 4 contains a single iteration of the 4 note descending triad pattern seen first during Example 4, interrupting the already polyrhythmic application of Example 7’s 9 note triplet pattern.  This odd combination momentarily throws the ear, creating strong rhythmic tension.

Harmonies are specific to melodic content.


Ex 11 – Strange Resolution (3:32)

One of Kreisberg’s most distinctive sequential patterns, this 5 note 7th arpeggio figure is applied to C melodic minor.

Harmony refers to the parent scale.


Ex 12 – The Best Thing For You (2:13)

A rhythmic development of Example 11 applied to the diminished scale.

Harmonies are specific to melodic content.


Ex 13 – New For Now (1:44)

Further polyrhythms, this time featuring the 5 note figure of Examples 11 and 12 performed using 8th notes in 4/4.

Harmonies refer to parent scales.


Ex 14 – Kiitos (7:20)

Developing the 7th arpeggio theme, this example outlines a 9 note descending and ascending pattern applied in 3/4 as 8th note triplets.  The sequence is preceded by its second note.

Harmonies are specific to melodic content.


Ex 15 – The South of Everywhere (3:26)

Example 14’s 9 note figure extended by a further 6 notes to create a 15 note triplet pattern ideal for 5/4. This could be considered a 7th arpeggio application of ideas from Examples 6 and 8.

Harmonies are specific to melodic content.


Ex 16 – Funeral For The Ants (3:36)

Example 14 adapted to some less conventional settings.

Harmonies are specific to melodic content.


Ex 17 – Gone With The Wind (2:32)

Another stylistically significant idea, one of Kreisberg’s most frequently employed wide arpeggio patterns (not presented as a sequence here).

Harmony is specific to melodic content.


Ex 18 – Gone With The Wind (5:51)

Example 17’s wide arpeggio figure extended to fill 1 bar of 5/4.  Notice the figure’s adaptation to major (Lydian) and Kreisberg’s use of the introductory second note as per Example 14.


Ex 19 – Stir The Stars (4:17)

A further development of Example 17, this time extending the wide arpeggio pattern to 16 notes.  Once again the sequence is introduced using its second note.

Harmonies are specific to melodic content.


Ex 20 – From The Ashes (3:18)

Example 20 combines individually identified patterns as an aesthetically consistent but melodically diverse improvised line.

The first pattern is effectively Example 6 adapted for 7th arpeggios and extended by 1 note to form a 3 beat figure.  The first 2 beats of this pattern are subsequently reiterated and the phrase draws to a close with Example 17 in Ab.

Harmonies are specific to melodic content.


Click here to create your own unique improvisational sequences!


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