A musical trope. One character sings a song, then another character sings to the same chords but a different melody, then both sing together in counterpoint. Most often used to express arguments or show that characters have differing opinions on the same subject, though occasionally merely employed for fun.
- This old Rice Krispies commercial has the spokes-elves sing a jazz counterpoint trio.
- A Christmas Carol (1997) has three songs like this. "Random Acts of Kindness" is about everyone in the tavern talking about how rewarding kindness is, while Scrooge feels kindness will come back to hurt you. Its reprise is about Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit arguing over whether to thank Scrooge or not. "Cross This Bridge" is about Belle breaking up with Scrooge, outlining their different views of life via song.
- "For the First Time in Forever" and its reprise in Frozen. The first version has Anna singing about her excitement that the castle gates are open once more while Elsa sings about her apprehension over the same thing. Meanwhile, the reprise has Anna trying to convince Elsa to return to Arendelle with her while Elsa tries to convince Anna that her remaining on the mountain is for the best.
- A Goofy Movie has "On the Open Road". Goofy sings about how happy he is to be traveling with his son Max; Max sings about how he would rather be anywhere else.
- Melody and Ariel sing such a song, "For a Moment", in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea.
- "Where You Are" from Moana has the men's and women's choruses in counterpoint to each other.
- "Savages" from Pocahontas. There is a Part 2 featuring Pocahontas singing with similar structures to the earlier songs "Steady as the Beating Drum" and "Listen With Your Heart".
- The Prince of Egypt has The Plagues which is set as Moses sends the Plagues to Egypt, all the while he regrets having to do it and he hates how he must make the Egyptians suffer. Meanwhile, Rameses thinks that Moses hates him and tries to harden his heart, refusing to give up the Hebrews.
- "This Is My Idea" from The Swan Princess, in which Odette and Derek, as children, lament how their parents are forcing them to spend time together. It later turns into Duet Bonding as they grow older and fall in love.
- "Truly Scrumptious/Doll on a Music Box" from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Bonus points for the actors involved doing extremely good jobs portraying their characters' disguises (a marionette and a clockwork doll, respectively).
- How the Other Half Lives from Thoroughly Modern Millie. Miss Dorothy wants to experience the life of the poor, Millie the rich.
- Hairspray (the 2007 movie) has a reprise of "Big Blonde and Beautiful", during which Edna and Velma sing abouttheir plans to seduce Wilbur for very different reasons.
- The Producers: "We Can Do It", to a tee.
- Casablanca)...but the orchestra sides with the ghosts.
- In the fourth and fifth movements of J.S. Bach's cantata Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen (Rejoice, you hearts), the duet melodies are the same, but the lyrics are different. One singer celebrates Jesus's resurrection, while the other singer doubts the resurrection and is generally unsure about his fate. In short, the two singers' lyrics are opposites of each other thematically.
- In the finale of Swing Time, the leads sing "A Fine Romance" in counterpoint with "The Way You Look Tonight," demonstrating that the two melodies fit together perfectly.
- Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas has the reprise of "Our World"/"Brothers".
- The combination reprise of "Under Your Spell" and "Standing" from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Musical Episode "Once More With Feeling". Not to mention Spike and Buffy in the "Coda".
- The last few parts of " What You Feel".
- At the end of Act One in the Scrubs Musical Episode.
- On an episode of The Judy Garland Show, Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand did a Counter Point Duet of "Get Happy" and "Happy Days Are Here Again", respectively.
- The opening theme of Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger forms one of these out of a mashup between the Lupinranger theme "Lupinranger, Spin the Dials" and the Patranger theme "Chase You Up! Patranger".
- Key & Peele parodied this trope as used in Les Misérables, with a song called "One At A Time";
Do I let this fight end now? (Do not interrupt me!)
Just to end this life of pain? (Let me finish what I need to say!)
Will death be welcome now? (Fine! I'll let you finish first.)
Will my journey be in vain? (Don't let me get in your way.)
- "To Be Human" from the Deluxe version of Steeleye Span's Concept Album of Wintersmith has Tiffany singing that she must escape the Wintermith in counterpoint to the Wintersmith singing that he just wants to be human.
- "A Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues.
- The "Will You Love Me Forever?/Let Me Sleep on It" section of Meat Loaf's Paradise by the Dashboard Light.
- Mitch Benn parodies this in the duet part of his "West End Musical" parody (which is also supposed to be a Distant Duet).
Kirsty: Our composer's showing off.
Mitch: He's written two tunes for this song.
Kirsty: I have to sing across the counter-melody.
Mitch: It's a sort of call-and-response thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing...
Kirsty: Then I keep going while he holds that one long note,
Both: And the last line is in two-part harmony.
- In Celtic Thunder's song "That's a Woman", two of the men play opposing views on how a woman is and should be treated. One (Paul) thinks they're nothing but good and should be treated gently, and another (Ryan) thinking that they're nothing but bad and should be treated in kind.
- In their show Storm, Keith and Damian have a duet where they sing in counterpoint; Damian talking about how cool and debonair he is, and Keith saying that actually, the girls are laughing at him and he's sort of a loser.
- The Good Doctor and The Sons of Fate by The Protomen both do this. The former has Dr. Light and Dr. Wily arguing about Wily's plans to control the city, while the latter has Mega Man and Protoman arguing about the fate of mankind while they battle each other.
- Brentalfloss collaborated with a fellow named Dave Bulmer to produce Super Mario Land With Lyrics, wherein Brent and Dave argue about whether or not Super Mario Land is a good game. (For the record, Dave says it is, and Brent says it's not.)
- And then they joined forces again, this time arguing about the appeal of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and the argument gets so vicious that Brent actually flies to England to lay the smack on him with a Les Miz-style confrontation, complete with overlapping arguments!
- Kids Praise: The 6th album's "Pig Out" song finishes as this, with Harmony singing about pigging out and not caring about others simultaneously with Psalty calling his daughter out on her attitude and behavior in the last chorus.
- Paul McCartney and John Lennon do this in "I've Got a Feeling" (which was assembled from two unfinished songs).
- "An Old-Fashioned Wedding" from Annie Get Your Gun (added for the 1966 revival)
- "Bon Voyage/There's No Cure Like Travel" from Anything Goes
- Bells Are Ringing had "Better Than A Dream" (written after the Broadway opening) for Ella and Jeff.
- La Cage aux folles brings it Up to Eleven with "Cocktail Counterpoint" - a number that ends up involving almost all of the principals singing in a multilayered counterpoint.
- "You're Just In Love" from Call Me Madam
- In Carnival, Lili's song "I Hate Him" segues into a reprise of "Her Face", with Paul singing about his tortured love for Lili while she continues singing about how much she despises his cruelty.
- In Celebration, Mr. Rich sings "Slowly Rising" in counterpoint to the Orphan's "Love Song."
- "Wenn ich dein Spiegel wär" from Elisabeth starts as a solo, then segues into a counterpoint duet to show that Sisi and Rudolf are Not So Different. The main melody of Spiegel complements Sisi's leitmotif and "I Want" Song, "Ich gehör nur mir" perfectly.
- Beethoven's opera Fidelio has a famous Canon Quartet: four characters expressing their different concerns over the same situation.
- Wagner (who studied and admired Beethoven) used similar scenes to great effect. Thus, before the judicial duel in Lohengrin, all the characters and the male and female choruses sing their separate views of the situation, mostly to different melodies, over and through each other. At the end of Act I of Siegfried, Siegfried and Mime do the same. Most memorably, at the end of The Flying Dutchman, the Dutchman's ghost crew fights a duel of song with the Norwegian sailors (reminiscent of the "Marseillaise" scene in
- Finale has Leaving You/Me, where Noah sings about how he can't wait to go to college and Krista sings about how she is sad that her son is going to college.
- "Who Could Be Blue/Little White House", a Cut Song from Follies
- "You're Gonna Love Tomorrow/Love Will See Us Through" (actually two duets sung in counterpoint, because that's how Stephen Sondheim rolls.
- "All For The Best" from Godspell (and a semi-example with "Tower of Babble" from the same show, with eight counterpoint lines).
- In Guys and Dolls, Sarah enters the penultimate scene singing the finish of "I've Never Been In Love Before" while Adelaide, in counterpoint, adds yet another verse to her lament.
- Farmer Refuted from Hamilton skips the second step: first, we have Samuel Seabury singing about how the American people should not be tempted into revolution (with a couple of short interjections by the other characters), and then he sings the same verse again, but this time with Hamilton's much faster rapped response layered on top, written such that sometimes he says the same word or sound at the same time as Seabury. As an example, here are the first two lines, with the simultaneous common sounds bolded:
Seabury: Heed not the rabble who scream, revolution! They have not your interests at heart.Hamilton: Hed have you all unravel at the sound of screams but the revolution is coming, the have-nots are gonna win this, its hard to listen to you with a straight face!
- The refrain in "Kind Captain, I've Important Information" from H.M.S. Pinafore is in beautiful two-voice counterpoint.
- "I Believe In You" from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
- Jekyll & Hyde has "In His Eyes" with the two female leads singing about each other's feeling toward Jekyll.
- "Mine" from Let 'Em Eat Cake is a Happily Married couple against a chorus who explain "the point they're making in the song."
- "Remains" from the Japanese musical Letter -bring to light- is a duet in counterpoint, but the singers don't sing their melodies individually first (at least, not in that song; the melodies do show up separately elsewhere).
- "Now/Later/Soon" in A Little Night Music, which gives us a counterpoint trio of songs with only the slightest common elements...
- Except that only Anne actually sings her exact part again; Fredrik and Henrik both sing heavily modified versions of their parts in order to fit with hers. But this song certainly fits the spirit of this trope if not the letter.
- "Devil Take the Hindmost" from Love Never Dies. Reprised as a quartet which fits the same trope.
- "Two's Company" from The Magic Show
- In "I'm Only Thinking of Him" from Man of La Mancha The Padre sings counterpoint to Antonia and The Housekeeper.
- In the stage musical of Mary Poppins, this trope is used for "Jolly Holiday". Mary and her evil double, Miss Andrew, also do this in "Brimstone and Treacle, Part 2."
- The stage adaptation of Matilda has a few examples:
- "Miracle" - The children sing about being their parents' "miracle" as the parents sing about their "perfect" children.
- "When I Grow Up" - As Miss Honey sings her verse, Matilda sings a reprise of "Naughty."
- "My House" - Miss Honey sings about her cottage while Matilda and The Escapologist sing a reprise of "I'm Here."
- "I am so proud" from The Mikado.
- "I Am So Proud" starts off as a counterpoint trio.
- Les Misérables:
"He was never mine to lose"
- "Confrontation" is a semi-example, since Valjean and Javert sing together throughout, but do switch melody lines.
- Another is "A Heart Full of Love", where Eponine sings a counterpoint to Marius and Cosette's love song about how Marius will never love her.
"She was never mine to keep"
- Later during the song's reprise "Everyday" Valjean also sings counterpoint to Marius and Cosette's love song this time about how he has to let the now adult Cosette go.
- It's only a semi-example because she starts midway through the song and does not sing independently before the counterpoint.
- "One Day More" famously superimposes pretty much every song in Act I on top of each other, forming one of the most famous Act I finales of all time.
- The musical version of The Producers does something similar.
- Same with The Book of Mormon.
- Taking cues from Les Misérables, South Park Bigger, Longer, & Uncut does the same in the La Résistance medley.
- The aptly named "Act One Finale" from Urinetown has a similar feel to One Day More, with several melodies superimposed on each other.
- In Miss Saigon, the song "I Still Believe" is sung by Kim and Ellen. Kim is alone in a hovel singing about how much she loves and misses Chris, praying and still fervently believing that he will come back for her. Ellen is halfway around the world in a comfortable bedroom, sitting right next to the sleeping Chris. Subverted in that the only counterpoint is the setting. Ellen's lyrics show that she is just as lonely and desperate as Kim (Chris' trauma over the loss of Kim has caused him to push Ellen away) and just as fervent in her belief that one day Chris will trust her enough to confide in her.
- "I Like Ev'rybody" from The Most Happy Fella develops into this in the Act III reprise, though Cleo's countermelody ("Smile, smile, smile, that's all you do") makes a partial appearance the first time.
- "Lida Rose/Will I Ever Tell You?" from The Music Man (barbershop quartet against Marian).
- Also, "Pick a Little, Talk a Little" and "Good Night, Ladies" with the gossip women and the barbershop quartet.
- "The Sadder But Wiser Girl" was supposed to be reprised as counterpoint to "My White Knight," but this Soprano and Gravel duet reprise was cut.
- Next to Normal:
- The song "Who's Crazy?/My Psychopharmacologist and I" is primarily sung by Diana and Dan, with the other actors as ensembles. Dan is reflecting on how and why Diana was having treatments while Diana was telling the audience her path of treatments.
- "You Don't Know/I Am The One"; Diana claims that Dan can't begin to understand what it's like to live with her mental illness before Dan tries to remind Diana that he is the one who's been caring for her since this all started.
- "Yesterday I Loved You" from Once Upon a Mattress comes close but the melody of "In A Little While" is slightly modified to fit. In the revival there is also a point where Lady Larken joins Sir Harry in a harmony.
- Andrew Lloyd Webber's version of The Phantom of the Opera- lots of counterpoint, especially in "Prima Donna"
- Also when the Phantom, Raoul, and Christine are all singing their respective songs at the same time in a Dark Reprise ("The Point of No Return", "Think of Me", and "Angel of Music")
- "Go Ye Heroes" plus "When the Foeman Bares His Steel" from The Pirates of Penzance probably qualifies here.
- "Another Day" from RENT
- "Welcome gentry" from Ruddigore
- The Secret Garden has the two male leads singing about "Lily's Eyes".
- In "I Knew His Name" from She Loves Me Amalia sings about how well she gets on with her 'Dear Friend' even though she doesn't know what he looks like or even his real name. Meanwhile, Ilona laments in song how she knew a man's name and what he looked like, and he still turned out to be a scumbag. Both end the song by simultaneously asking "What's in a name?"
- Shrek: The Musical has three:
- Shrek and Donkey during "Travel Song".
- Shrek and Fiona during "I Think I Got You Beat".
- All three sing a Counterpoint Trio at the end of "Who I'd Be" (which also counts as a Distant Duet since Fiona is separate from Shrek and Donkey).
- "Don't Do Sadness" / "Blue Wind" from Spring Awakening. Moritz's half ("Don't Do Sadness") is a loud, rock-influenced BSoD Song, while Ilse's half ("Blue Wind") is a nostalgic, piano-accompanied lament.
- Spring Awakening also has "Those You've Known", a duet between Moritz, who tries to convince Melchior to commit suicide and Wendla, who tries to convince him to stay alive.
- Used and Lampshaded in "One Step" from Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire's revue Starting Here, Starting Now, where the characters sing this before the two sections are combined:
Now, I know you folks are very theatrically wise,
So I know this news won't come as the slightest surprise,
But just in case you're in doubt as to whether or not or whether,
This is one of those songs with two parts where both of them go together!
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street:
- "Johanna (Quartet)"
- "Kiss Me/Ladies in their Sensitivities"
- "The Yodel Blues" from Texas, Li'l Darlin'.
- In The Unsinkable Molly Brown:
- Molly's refrain is sarcastically sung over by her brothers in "I Ain't Down Yet," with them finally ending up in three-part counterpoint.
- Molly sings "I May Never Fall In Love With You" as the Prince hums a second chorus of his song "Dolce Far Niente."
- "I'll Never Say No" and "My Own Brass Bed" were clearly intended to be sung in counterpoint (note that the final line of both songs is "but I'll (sure) never say no"), but the connection is obscured by "My Own Brass Bed" being sung in Common Time instead of 3/4, and they are only played together in the Entr'acte.
- "I Can't Imagine" from Vanities: The Musical has a counterpoint trio for its bridge. In the original score, the reprise was actually titled "Counterpoint". The counterpoint section was also the basis for the Dark Reprise "The Argument" in the Second Stage production and subsequent shows.
- In A Very Potter Musical, Ron and Draco sing "Granger Danger," a song about how seeing Hermione at the Yule Ball has made them both fall in love with her.
- "Play a Simple Melody" from Watch Your Step (1914) by Irving Berlin.
- "If I Told You (reprise)" from The Wedding Singer Broadway musical. Julia sings the melody from the original song with Robbie singing counterpoint with different lyrics and a different melody.
- West Side Story has a slightly odd example in "A Boy Like That," where Maria sings the melody of "I Have A Love" first as counterpoint to Anita, and only then as a song of its own. (This duet concludes the "History of Musical Comedy" medley sung by Carol Burnett and Julie Andrews in their 1962 Carnegie Hall special, after they sing many songs from older Broadway musicals in counterpoint with each other.)
- A more usual example is the "Tonight" quintet/ensemble, which ends with Anita, Riff and Bernardo echoing the jazzy "We're gonna rock it tonight" motif against Tony and Maria's reprise of their earlier duet.
- 'Party Conversation' in When Midnight Strikes. Murial tells Edward "I'm gonna make love to you...". He panics and starts backing away while singing inanely about everything but making love. Both tunes are reprised in counterpoint before they join together as Edward gives in.
- "What Is This Feeling?" from Wicked plays with this, by having Elphie and Galinda on one melody line, while giving the other to the chorus.
- Later in Wicked, Elphaba and Glinda sing in counterpoint briefly in "For Good" - they have separate refrains, but combine them for the finale, in which it is also in counterpoint to the Ozians reprising "No One Mourns The Wicked".
- The opening version of NOMTW also has Glinda in counterpoint with the Munchkins for the final chorus.
- A different counterpoint duet in Wicked is "Wicked Witch of the East" - Nessa reprises her and Boq's passage from "Dancing Through Life", while Elphaba sings the incantation to turn Boq into the Tin Man quietly in counterpoint.
- The Yeomen of the Guard:
- "Tower warders"/"'Tis the autumn"
- "When the Foeman"/"Go ye heroes"
- "Where Do We Go From Here" from Zombie Prom is an ensemble version.
- Joss Whedon continues the trend in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: the song "My Eyes" has Penny singing several steps up from Billy, with a more lyrical melody in counterpoint to his militaristic rhythm. She sings about how the world isn't perfect but things are always getting better, Billy sings about how the world is a pile of filth and lies and everyone's out to get each other, talking about how disillusioned he's become.
- And the end of "A Man's Gotta Do" features a Counterpart Trio, with Captain Hammer and Penny singing about how amazing Captain Hammer is, and Dr. Horrible singing about what a dick Captain Hammer is.
- Bob's Burgers:
- "Later Afternoon in the Garden of Bob and Louise" has "Crappy/Happy Place", with Bob singing about how much he loves working in the community garden, and Louise and Linda singing about how much they hate having to put up with Logan Bush (Louise's teenage arch-enemy) and Cynthia (Logan's bossy, condescending mom).
- In "Something Old, Something New, Something Bob Caters for You", Bob and Linda sing "I Do", where Bob sings how he'll do his best to ensure Connor and Farrah's wedding will be great and Linda telling Bob this wedding is a disaster and he's taking it too seriously.
- Central Park:
- In Season 1 "Garbage Ballet", "Rats" has Paige singing how she hates rats and wants to kill them, while Cole sings how rats don't deserve to be killed and they're good.
- In Season 1 "Squirrel, Interrupted", Owen and Paige sings "Can We Do Today Again?", where Owen sings how he's a bad dad for ruining the scavenger hunt for Cole, and Paige sings how she's a good mom for letting Molly play chess against other people and beating them.
- The title song from the South Park episode "I'm a Little Bit Country", with the country-loving rednecks supporting the war, and the rock-and-roll obsessed yuppies protesting it. The song is later reprised and turned into a Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number.
- Steven Universe:
- In Season 1 "Strong in the Real Way" from the episode "Coach Steven" has Steven and Pearl both singing about what they think true strength means; but while Steven thinks it's about having outer strength, Pearl thinks it's inner strength.
- In Season 1 the title song from the episode "On the Run" has Steven and Amethyst duet about life on the open road; but while Steven views it as a fun adventure with childish wonder, Amethyst sees it as her only escape from her troubled home life.
- In Tangled: The Series, Varian has a duet with Cassandra named "Nothing Left to Lose" where Varian tries to convince her that she can still change sides while Cassandra argues that she's come too far and has nothing left to lose.
Other types of contrapuntal singing that are similar, but don't quite fit the trope-
- Legally Blonde's "Harvard Variations" doesn't quite manage to be a true counterpoint trio. It does come close, though.
- In "Once More With Feeling", though Joss Whedon tries to disguise it, during the counterpoint section in "Walk Through the Fire", the Scoobies and Sweet are actually singing pretty much the same tune. It just sounds different.
- "Fugue for Tinhorns" from Guys and Dolls, which is more of a round than anything.
- "Prayer" from Come From Away culminates in Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu hymns being sung together.
- The final section of "Meet the Plastics" from Mean Girls counts as a counterpoint trio, with Gretchen's and Karen's verses melding with a reprise of "Where Do You Belong", sung by Regina.