"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."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.
— Stephen Sondheim, Look, I Made a Hat
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.
- "Missing You" from A Very Potter Musical.
- In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fandom, the separation of Celestia and Luna for a thousand years across the vast distance between the earth and the moon provides the perfect opportunity for some very distant duets between the two sisters. "Home" is a beautiful example of exactly this.
- Although the tear-jerking Lullaby for a Princess (watch here) is a solo lament that Celestia sings to her sister on the moon, it has been made into a duet. There are also versions of the song sung by Luna, such as "Luna's Soliloquy" and "Luna's Reply," which have been adapted into these duets, respectively.
Film - Animation
- "Savages" from Disney's Pocahontas, the song leading up to the climax of the film, has alternating verses sung by the white settlers and the native people as they each prepare for war against each other.
- "The Plagues" from The Prince of Egypt
- The "La Résistance" Medley from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, which is also a deliberate parody of these kinds of songs. The members of La Résistance, the mothers, the fathers, Terrance and Phillip and Satan all sing different parts, often reprising other songs from the movie.
- The Award-Bait Song "For Longer Than Forever" from The Swan Princess.
- "Am I Feeling Love?", one of two blatant Award Bait Songs in the theatrical cuts of The Thief and the Cobbler.
- "Shere Khan's Lost Song" from The Jungle Book was originally going to be one for Shere Khan, the film's Big Bad.
- The canceled Betty Boop movie was planned to have a distant duet between Betty and her father. See it here.
- The Dark Reprise of "My Kingdom of The Heart" from The Princess and the Pea.
- "A Boy Needs a Dog (Reprise)" from the film of Teacher's Pet.
- "Somewhere Out There" from An American Tail. Two young separated mice, a brother and a sister, sing about their hopes of finding each other someday (unaware that they're closer than they think). *sniff*
- "For the First Time in Forever" in Frozen, which has Anna dancing all over the castle and its surroundings while singing about her excitement about the gates being open again, and Elsa gathering her courage in her room while she sings about her apprehension over the same thing.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games: The original version of "What More Is Out There" was between Sunset Shimmer and the Human World's Twilight Sparkle.
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 "Man or Muppet" (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).
- Across the Universe has at least two. "Hey Jude" is sung by Max, who's sitting in an American bar, and citizens of Liverpool (including Jude's mother), all encouraging Jude to seek out his love Lucy. "Let It Be" (reworked in a gospel style) is one of the most tearjerking moments in the film. It's set against the backdrop of the 1967 Detroit riot, with a young boy singing the first verse in the streets and a preacher/singer performing the second at the same boy's funeral. Though they're in the same room, they couldn't be further apart.
- Danny and Sandy in Grease separately tell different versions of their summer nights together in the song, "Summer Nights."
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.
- 2014's Peter Pan Live, a new version of the stage musical, changed the (now-appropriately titled) "Distant Melody" to one of these. In the original, Peter Pan sings it as a lullaby at Wendy's request; in Live, Wendy sings one half of the song in Neverland, while Mrs. Darling, still waiting for her children to come home, sings the other.
- In an episode of The Flash, "Duet", when Millie!Iris and Tommy!Mon-El tell their fathers that they are in love, the fathers tell them they belong to both mobs that oppose each other, but they care about their children and try to convince them to find their own true love. The fathers from both sides then go into a moving rendition of "More I Cannot Wish You" from Guys and Dolls, which is both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.
- 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...
- The David Byrne & Fatboy Slim album Here Lies Love has two:
- "Seven Years" has Benigno Aquino (first in prison, then in exile to the US) and Imelda Marcos (in Manila) singing to each other.
- "Why Don't You Love Me?": As the liner notes explain, "This song is sung in an imaginary duet between Imelda and Estrella, who have no contact with one another at this point."
- "Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum
- But for the limitations of mid-Eighties technology, Live Aid might have included a real-life example of this trope. David Bowie and Mick Jagger wanted to perform a transatlantic duet of the song "Dancing in the Street". When this proved impossible to achieve without one of them miming to a pre-recorded track (which neither of them wanted to do) they made a video instead.
- 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, which is sung by two brothers who were in love with the same woman.
- The musical also features "Come to My Garden" and "Lift Me Up," a duet sung between Lily and her son, Colin. This is a particularly extreme distance, as Lily is deceased; it's implied that she is visiting the boy in a dream. Something similar happens in "How Could I Ever Know," a duet between Lily and her (still-living) husband.
- "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.
- Thirteen 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 have the same tune in different meters.
- "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.
- "No One is Alone" from Into the Woods has Cinderella singing to Little Red Ridinghood (on the ground) while The Baker sings to Jack (high in a tree).
- The Pajama Game pulls off the epic stunt of having a character sing a Distant Duet with himself. Toward the beginning of Act One, Sid sings "Hey There" into a dictaphone, bragging about how he doesn't need love and telling himself to stay away from romance. At the end of the act, Sid, who has now realized that he's deeply in love with Babe, inadvertently turns the machine back on and begins to echo the voice on the record, singing a duet with himself about how his feelings have changed.
- The musical version of The Little Mermaid has "If Only", a distant quartet performed by Ariel (through Inner Monologue due to being a Cute Mute at this time), Sebastian, Eric and Triton, who are all expressing a desire to understand or be understood by their loved ones.
- From Hamilton we have "Dear Theodosia," in which both Hamilton and Burr sing to their newly-born child about how much they love them already and will try to take care of them. For brief examples, we also have Angelica in "Take A Break" singing from England about how she wishes she and Alexander weren't separated, and the beginning of "Stay Alive," in which Eliza sings the titular words from home while Alexander is off at war. "Your Obedient Servant" also arguably counts, in that Hamilton and Burr are separated physically, but they are still communicating, in that the conceit is that the words they're singing are the letters they're sending back and forth.
- Finale has two: "More Than This," a duet between Tyler and Dylan about wanting to find love, sung from their respective homes, and "My Last Days," sung between Dani and Noah about their respective parents. Bonus points for the latter, as they didn't even know each other.
- 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 Adventure Time episode "Dream of Love" has a Break-Up Song between Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig.
- The 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.
- "Pets and Humans" in the Littlest Pet Shop (2012) episode "It's the Pet Fest! - Part 2" is sung between Jason #1 on the hotel's roof and Heidi and Zoe in the Fun Park on the hotel's first floor. The final part of the song has both groups join up and sing simultaneously, over each other.
- "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 which is impersonating the other.
- "It's Gonna Work" from "Spice Up Your Life". Doubles as a Counterpoint Duet, as Rarity is with Coriander Cumin, singing about how the Tasty Treat should try to be more like the other restaurants in Canterlot's Restaurant Row, while Pinkie Pie is with Saffron Masala, singing about how they should embrace their individuality.
- Phineas and Ferb:
- The episode "I Scream, You Scream" has Busted. Although it is a duet for Candace and Vanessa, they never actually see each other during this episode.
- The episode, "Bully Bromance Break Up" had "Hole in My Heart", a Break-Up Song between Buford and Baljeet.
- The episode "Act Your Age" has "What Might Have Been", a duet between Phineas and Isabella where they somberly sing about what it might have been like if they had gotten into a relationship together like they both wanted, and regretting not ever having done so.
- "This Grill Is Not A Home" in SpongeBob SquarePants, pictured above.