Friends Will Be Friends

Composer: John Deacon and Freddie Mercury
Meter: 4/4
Keys: G-major
Form:

               | Intro - Verse | Chorus -
               - Intro'- Verse | Chorus -
      - Break | Solo 1 (Verse) | Chorus -
      - Chorus - instr. Chorus x 2 with Solo 2 |

Solo 1 (Verse): lead vocal added for last phrase.

Towards the end of the Eighties the piano got less role on Queen records. This song is one of their last "piano" songs even if synth and guitars play dominant role on the backing track. The piano plays simple figures and chords. Drums too play simple patterns.
The song form is not unusual, with Verse-Chorus couplets, we have only two non-istrumental sections. Most of the transitions are overlapped, and each time the tonic chord is used, except the final string of Choruses.
The harmony uses many chromatic inner voices picked up by either the bass, lead vocal, and lead guitar. The key stays firmly G-major (an unusual key for Freddie).

Walkthrough

It's three measures long, but at its end it flows into the Verse. The harmony of the first two measures is taken from the mid part of the Verses; the third measure starts a double plagal cadence (IV-of-IV > IV > I). The harmony is created by piano and synth.

G:
| G  B7  | Em  G7  | C     F   C || G...
| I V/vi | vi V/IV | IV  IV/IV IV|| I...

The lead guitar tune starts with descending chromatic couplets: B-Bb A-Ab G-Gb F-E. Try out: the straight chromatic line could not work here. The guitar and the bass create a nice counterpoint:

Guitar: B A G F E  F E D
  Bass: G B E G C  F C G

The modal flat 7th (F) appears both in the lead part and in the harmony.

The second iteration of the Intro adds an Am chord, which makes the hook half a measure longer:

m.3            half
... | C  Am  | F   C || G...
    | IV ii  |IV/IV IV|| I...

The lead guitar holds a pause during the Am chord.

Verse
This section is square eight (4+4 or 2+2+2+2) measures long. The first phrase uses the six diatonic major/minor chords. The first two measures have the Queen-cliche I > V > vi progression with the step-wise descending bass (see also in Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy).

G:

m1
| G  D/F# | Em  Bm G | C  Am  | D     |
| I  V    | vi iii I | IV ii  | V     |

m.5
ld.voc.: D  D#  | E   F...
       | G  B7  | Em  G7  | Am    | D     |
       | I V/vi | vi  I7  | ii    | V     |

The D-chord in measure 4 gets descending parallel thirds. During measures 5-6 the lead vocal executes a chromatic rise from D to F. Remember that the Intro (the variant of this passage) operated with a descending guitar tune. The harmonic rhythm slows down at the end of both phrases. First Verse starts only with bass, drums, and piano which back the lead vocal. The second phrase's first half adds clean guitar chords. Measure 7 adds a strange guitar noise: Brian picks the strings over the bridge, which he also does several times later in the song. Last measure adds distorted guitar introducing the climactic Chorus. In the the second Verse the guitar is played differently: it enters earlier in the first phrase, produces more of those strange noises, and uses wah-pelal on the chords from measure 3 on (these can be heard much better on the karaoke version). Freddie adds a seventh to the G chord in measure two.

Chorus
The song has six Choruses: two of them build an instrumental outro; another two make a couplet before the outro. This section is seven measures long (eight if we add the ending with the resolution, which belongs to the actual next section - Intro', Break, Chorus). The phrasing is not square (2+1+4). The guitar (partly reinforced by the bass) plays a chromatic line that drives the harmony. Even the tonic (G) sounds like a passing chord. The harmonic rhythm is constant: two chords per measure until the last two chords where it slows down. The ii > V progression that closes the preceding Verses and converges to the tonic doesn't get resolved as the Chorus begins with the subdominant chord.

G:

gtr: C  C#  | D  E  | D  D# |
   | C  A   | G  Em | D  B  |
   | IV V/V | I  vi | V V/vi|
 

gtr: E   D# | D  C# | C...
   | Em  B  | G  A  | C    | D    || G...
   | vi V/vi| I V/V | IV   | V    || I...

Compared to the Verses, the arrangement is joined by synth and distorted guitar; the piano is hardly heard. As for the backing vocals, the popular gradual thickening is used. First Chorus adds just short pieces of doubletracking to the lead vocal (for the title phrases). Second Chorus adds vocal harmonies at its ending. Third and fourth Choruses adds backing harmonies to each title phrase, lead guitar figures (second phrases of 3rd and 4rd Choruses), and Freddie drops in some extra syncopations (3rd Chorus) and a triplet (4th Chorus) for climactic effect.

The synth plays broken chords throughout the choruses. In second measure of the third Chorus the "chromatic" guitar jumps up to B instead of E. The next Chorus here has a short guitar-figure. Roger holds pause at the end of the first three Choruses to create a touch of tension.

The two outro-Choruses are instumental, guitar solo is played (with wah pedal during the last one). Note in the final chain of Choruses the closing dominant chord is not resolved (D > C).

Break and Solo 1
It's a short pre-solo: four measures (2+2, AA'). The rhythm puts some off-beat accents. Th harmony has modal inflection as can be seen below:

/------- 2x ------\\
| G5 F5 | C  A#   |
| I bVII| IV bIII |

The chords in the last measure are ornamented with the same hammer-on lick that Brian often uses with the A chord.

The solo is an instrmental Verse. During the fist two measures nice "surround" reverb is used. The solo-tune has lovely arch-shaped passages. The lead vocal returns for the last two measures of the section.