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Speak Low chord sequence / progression


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Can anyone help with the progression Speak Low? How do you look at the progression and work out what fits over it? Are there any tips you can give on how to look at this?

Thanks :)
For me this would be a complex piece, nevertheless if trying to sort it out first I'd get hold of a MIDI version, for example at ...

... which I'd then download by highlighting the song name that appears there, doing a right click, selecting 'save link as', then choosing (say) 'desktop' as the download destination.

Next I'd run a MIDI sequencer (in my case Band In A Box) and import the song just downloaded. I can then see that its in the key of F (kicking off with a Bm7b5) and away we go from there!!

BIAB allows several things to aid getting one's head around a song like this (which to be honest I'd never heard before) in that it can be slowed right down to see how the thing progresses, the key can be changed to something other than F (in Eb, for example, it starts with an Am7b5 chord), we can look at the score, look at how the tune appears on a piano or guitar keyboard, follow the bass line through (which I usually find helps) and so on.

It took me about three minutes overall, from reading your post, to then get the tune found, downloaded and playing in BIAB with its key changed to an arbitrary Eb, so I reckon its a useful approach. Once the structure of the tune is nailed down then any sax bits one might want to add is really just a question of doodling along selecting notes from the bass line or whatever chord is being played at the time.

While doing the above I'd also troll around the net listening to various versions of the tune, both instrumental and vocal. Before long it would all start to sink in.

That's my take anyway!

Hope helps ...
I'll leave out the "what works over this" because there's just too much. But I can help with the analysis (I assume you have the changes already). It's a relatively straightforward tune, with a couple of popular devices.

The A section starts of as ii-V-ii-V repeated in the tonic key. This is a device you should get familiar with as it is used a lot. Honeysuckle Rose is another good example, as well as a ton of salsa tunes. You can either think of it as being 2-5 in F or you might find it more useful to play it in G minor. Bar 7-8 is a ii-V back to Gmin then it jumps to a different key -- same ii-V device but now in Ab (or Bbmin). Then it finally resolves to the tonic with a iii-VI-ii-V-I.

The bridge starts on an AbMaj, (recall we were in this key already). Then down a 5th (with the #11 in the melody), up a step from there, then iii-VI-ii-V back into Gmin.

Last A is same as the first 2 except now after the first ii-V in Ab it's just a long iii-VI-ii-V-I turnaround to the tonic.

What to play over it? Stuff in G minor works, throw in turnarounds to F. Look at how the great players have played this and tunes like it. Look at Scrapple From the Apple. If you have BIAB or something set up a repeating vamp of Gmin-C7 and play over it for a good while, trying different things.

Speak low is a great standard, and a lot of the things you figure out to play over it translate to a lot of other tunes as well.

Similar threads... or are they? Maybe not but they could be worth reading anyway 😀

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