Marshmello and Anne-Marie released a song called "Friends" this Friday. I was sitting at the piano and looked up the chords for the song to sing it.

The song has the chord progression Amin-C-F-E for the most part. Please tell me what you think of my interpretation, I'm trying to get better at this.

I interpreted this i-III-VI-V as a progression in a minor (with a dominant, borrowed from Amajor) that has a constant tonic-dominant movement.

The III chord substitutes as a dominant (at least from what I read, it can substitute as a dominant if it resolves to a tonic, please feel free to give any opinions on that).

This substitute Dominant resolves to the VI chord, a tonic/submediant/substitute tonic (which one is the correct way?).

The following V is borrowed from the Amajor/Aharmonic Minor scale.

Also, the large amount of halfsteps/shared notes from chord to chord is great, it makes it sounds so fluid.

What do you think of this interpretation?

2 Answers 2


All of your ideas about tonic/dominant substitutes are fine, but it's actually much simpler than that.

III chords often move to VI; it's really that easy! III to VI is a descending fifth, so it's a part of the circle of fifths progression.

In fact, the i III VI progression is rather common; check out the theme to The Office (US version), which begins with these three exact chords, just in major.

The VI then moves to V, which is another very common move, especially in popular music.

And you're absolutely right about the voice leading: with so many commons tones and motions of a single step between chords, the chord progression sounds very smooth.


As Richard says! However, the dominant isn't borrowed from anywhere! It's there in nearly all minors - harmonic and melodic, which both possess G#, but not natural minor. The V>I, or sometimes, as here, V>i is so common in music. Look at just about any chord sequence, and a chord will often be followed by a chord up a fourth. Effectively V>I, even though they may not be the V and I of the key.

This is where ii>V>I in jazz is seen, again, it may not be Dm>G>C in key C, but could be E>Am>Dm, all jumps of fourths, another way of looking at chords moving up from a preceding V to I (or i).

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