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Distant Duet
It's just a greasy spoooooooo-♫
Just a greasy spooooooon...♫
"I was able to manufacture a love song between two people who would have no possibility of eye contact with each other. That's one of the advantages of writing musicals rather than straight plays: you need no justification to be surreal, because the form itself is."
Stephen Sondheim, Look, I Made a Hat

Two singers sing the same song, but they are separated in space. Can be used to show the commonality of the two singers (such as two lovers sharing a love song while longing for each other) but another variation is the protagonists singing a happy song while the villain is plotting.

Common among Star-Crossed Lovers. The Song Before The Storm often uses this format. Related to Two Scenes, One Dialogue.

Naturally, a sub-trope of Let's Duet.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • A rare print version of this trope pops up in Chrono Crusade. In New York state, Rosette flops down on the grass and begins to sing a musical version of Edgar Allan Poe's poem Israfel. In the middle of the song, the scene switches to San Fransisco, where her brother Joshua is singing the same song. Since this is the first time Joshua shows up in the present day (his previous scenes had either been flashbacks or only shown him in silhouette), the song is a clue that it's the same Joshua as it's mentioned he and Rosette sang together as children.

    Fan Works 

    Film - Live Action 
  • The song "Touch-a Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show has Janet singing as she's seducing Rocky in the lab as well as Columbia and Magenta singing as well... while mocking Janet from inside a bedroom as they watch her on the security cameras.
  • The song "Come Back To Me" from On A Clear Day You Can See Forever. Daisy is avoiding the psychiatrist so he tries to reach her telepathically. She begins hearing the words of the song coming from the mouths of her cooking class teacher, police officers, and other random strangers. (Does not happen in the stage show.)
  • The second verse of "At The Opera Tonight" from Repo! The Genetic Opera is a duet between the Repo Man and Blind Mag. The distance between them is not simply physical: while Mag sings about how she's made peace with her fate, Repo Man is raging and planning a bloodbath.
  • All of John and Abigail Adams' duets in 1776. Especially fitting as the duets are based off their letters to each other.
  • Lalita and Darcy share a Distant Duet that was cut from the movie Bride and Prejudice but can be seen on the DVD.
  • Two in The Muppets: Piggy (in her dressing room) and Mary (at a restaurant) in "Me Party", and then Gary (on the street) and Walter (in the Muppet Studios basement) for "Muppet or Man" (there's an Imagine Spot where they're together in the middle, but as far as the reality of the film is concerned, they're not).

    Film - Animation 

    Live Action Television 
  • In "The Night of the Bottomless Pit" from The Wild Wild West, imprisoned secret agent James West carelessly sings the first line of a folk song. The scene then switches to another part of the prison where his partner, Artemus Gordon, who has just arrived in disguise (as usual), is singing the rest of the same song.
  • Happens frequently on Glee, but in the Season 4 premiere "The New Rachel," Marley and Rachel sing "New York State Of Mind" together.
  • "Walk Through the Fire" from the Buffy musical has a whole bunch of little subgroups.
    • The prior scene, where Tara sings a Dark Reprise of "Under Your Spell" while Giles sings "Standing", would also count.

    Music 
  • The Polish-Russian songstress' Anna German's song Echo of Love is kinda like that.
  • Frank Sinatra recorded a new version of I've Got You Under My Skin with Bono in 1993. The music video depicts Sinatra singing his part of the song in New York, with Bono singing his lines in Dublin.
  • Sound Horizon's "Shiseru Monotachi no Monogatari - Istoria" includes a duet between separated twins Elefseus and Artemisia, promising that they'll meet again one day.
  • Simple Plan's "Jet Lag" is sung from the perspective of a couple who are separated by continents, to the point where he's waking up just as the sun is setting where she is. They have released four official versions of the song—the English version with Natasha Bedingfield, a French version with Marie-Mai, a mixed English/Chinese version with Kelly Cha, and a one with an Indonesian band. In all four music videos he is shown at the airport while she waits for him to come home.
  • "Where You Are" by Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey.
  • "Picture" by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow is from the perspective of a couple simultaneously pining for, and cheating on, each other while the man is out on the road. Video
  • Parodied in "West End Musical", by Mitch Benn and the Distractions (also a Counterpoint Duet):
    Kirsty:I'm on the left side of the stage.
    Mitch:: I'm standing over on the right.
    Kirsty: Silhouetted in a spotlight on my own.
    Mitch:: That's interesting, so am I.
    Kirsty: I'm not too sure just what this song's about.
    Mitch:: I don't know either, don't ask me.
    Kirsty: It's probably something to do with being alone.
    Mitch: But I'm standing over here...

    Theater 
  • Alfred and Sarah sit in their beds and sing a love duet in Tanz der Vampire... separated by a corridor and two heavy doors, one of which is nailed shut to prevent advances on the girl.
  • "Tonight Quintet" from West Side Story.
  • "What You Own" in both the musical and movie versions of Rent. Mark's in New York, Roger's in Santa Fe, they meet for the final verse on the roof of their apartment building.
  • "Lily's Eyes" from The Secret Garden. Brothers who were in love with the same woman.
  • "I Wish I Could Go Back to College" and "Fantasies Come True" from Avenue Q both do this. The former has three singers, all in different buildings. The latter is a twist on the "love song" variant; the two singers are both singing about having found love, but not with each other. And one of the two people who's found love discovers immeadiately afterwards that it was All Just a Dream.
  • "Summer Nights" from Grease.
  • "Till Then" and "Yours, Yours, Yours" between John and Abigail Adams in 1776.
  • "Skid Row" from Little Shop of Horrors has various characters singing one line, before developing into a more conventional Distant Duet with Audrey and Seymour.
  • 13 has a subversion. Evan and Patrice are standing right next to each other and are giving advice to Brett saying what they wish they would really say to each other
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has a distant trio, with Sweeney in his barbershop, coming to terms with his belief that he will never see Johanna again; Anthony on the streets of London, tirelessly searching for Johanna; and Johanna herself in an insane asylum, just wanting someone to rescue her.
  • "Christmas Makes Me Cry" from Brooklyn has Faith in Paris, singing to young Brooklyn, and Taylor in New York, singing to...anyone who'll listen, and both of them thinking of each other.
  • "What You Don't Know About Women" in City of Angels. Gabby and Oolie are separated not only by a split stage, but by the latter being a fictional character in a Film Noir written by the former's husband.
  • 'I Know Him So Well' from Chess, although this one depends on the production: in some versions, the two singers are actually singing to each other.
  • The finale reprise of For Good in Wicked
  • Friendship Isn't What it Used to Be from Vanities: The Musical was originally a solo sung by Kathy after the other two characters leave the scene, but made a Distant Trio in later productions.
  • "Learning To Be Silent" from Footloose where both Shaw's wife and Ren's mother express frustration over never being listened to in their house anymore.
  • Herr Schultz and Fraulein Schneider have one in Cabaret - I think it's "Married".
  • Young Scrooge and Fan's duet of "A Place Called Home" in A Christmas Carol The Musical.
  • Played with in the original production of Spring Awakening: During "Don't Do Sadness/Blue Wind", Moritz and Ilse are shown to be in the same location and are clearly talking/singing to each other, but they are staged in a way that conveys distance and never look at each other, showing their conversational disconnect despite their physical closeness.
  • Les Misérables has a Distant Octet in the form of "One Day More", with Valjean, Marius and Cosette (who are actually distant lovers longing for each other), Eponine, Enjolras (who is joined by Marius deciding what to do), Javert, and the Thenardiers.
  • An interesting example occurs in The Music Man, where the two leads are separated, and reprising back and forth between two songs ("76 Trombones" and "Goodnight, My Someone"), which work together as a duet.
  • "Unworthy of Your Love" from Assassins is a weird example in that technically it's a love duet between John Hinckley and Squeaky Fromme... except instead of singing to each other, they're singing to Jodie Foster and Charles Manson.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • "So Far Apart" from My Little Pony: The Runaway Rainbow.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "This Day Aria", from "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 2". Sung by Princess Cadance and her impersonator, the Changeling Queen Chrysalis. It's unique for two reasons:
      • It's a duet where both parts are sung by the same performer, who is playing different characters.
      • One of the characters is impersonating the other. Their voices sound identical when in public, but in song Chrysalis' voice gains a sinister tinge that distinguishes it, while still making her sound enough like Cadance to pull off the con. Now that's vocal skill!
  • "This Grill Is Not A Home" in Sponge Bob Square Pants, pictured above.
  • An episode of The Critic gives Siskel and Ebert (playing themselves, no less) one of these when they temporarily end their partnership. Then a third verse is sung by Jay's boss, secretly upset that Jay has quit to pursue a partnership with one of them.
  • The Phineas and Ferb episode, "Bully Bromance Break Up" had "Hole in My Heart", a Breakup Song between Buford and Baljeet.
  • The Adventure Time episode "Dream of Love" has a Breakup Song between Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig.
  • The Daria Musical Episode has Helen and Quinn (a mother and daughter) sing "Don't They Know I Can't Leave Yet." It paints them as Not So Different, each achieving a sense of self-worth through their respective obsessions.
    • "What If the Town Blew Away?", "Manly" and "The Big Wet Rain Storm is Over" are like this, but for groups of people instead of just two.


Counterpoint DuetMusical Number IndexFinal Love Duet
Dish DashAdded Alliterative AppealDistracted from Death
Dinner DeformationImageSource/Western AnimationExposed Animal Bellybutton
Death SongMusic TropesThe Eleven O'Clock Number

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