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Distant Duet

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♫"It's almost like you're here with me
Although we're far apart!"♫

"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, or a parent and their child singing about protecting 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.


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    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 
  • 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.
  • "Daddy's Home" by JT Music has a variant in the bridge and hook. In the bridge Subject Delta slowly sings a promise to reach and protect his daughter, who sings a faster plea for her father to save her. While initially separate, at the end of the song the bridge and hook are sung at the same time as the two reunite.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • All of John and Abigail Adams' duets in 1776. Especially fitting as the duets are based off their letters to each other.
  • Across the Universe (2007) 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.
  • Anna and the Apocalypse has two; "Break Away" between Anna, Steph, John and Chris, who individually contribute their desires to an "I Want" Song, and "Turning My Life Around", as Anna and John leave the next morning to meet up with eachother while completely oblivious to the nearby Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Lalita and Darcy share a Distant Duet that was cut from the movie Bride and Prejudice but can be seen on the DVD.
  • A Christmas Carol: The Musical: Young Scrooge and Fan's duet of "A Place Called Home".
  • Cinderella:
    • Before Cinderella and Prince Christopher meet, they sing "The Sweetest Sounds" from two different parts of the marketplace. After they meet, they reprise it before returning to their respective homes.
    • After Cinderella flees the ball, Christopher wistfully reprises "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?" after finding her glass slipper, and she joins in from the path back to her stepmother's house.
  • Danny and Sandy in Grease separately tell different versions of their summer nights together in the song, "Summer Nights."
  • High School Musical 3: Senior Year has Gabriella and Troy singing a reprise duet of "Right here, Right now" from separate locations, Gabriella in her home and Troy is in his childhood treehouse.
  • Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again has "One of Us", between Sophie in Greece and Sky in New York.
  • Two in The Muppets (2011): 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Two in Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird: "Ain't No Road Too Long" is a Distant Quartet; first by Big Bird and the truck driver, second by Gordon and Olivia, third by Grover, and fourth by the Count. "One Little Star" is a Distant Trio.

    Live Action TV 
  • "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.
  • The first episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's fourth season has "No One Else is Singing my Song", with Nathaniel, Rebecca, and Josh lamenting that no one else could possibly understand their situations. In the last chorus, the whole company joins in, each in a different location. Played With at the end of the song, when everyone (except Rebecca) notices each other, resulting in a rather heartwarming moment.
  • 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 tearjerking at the same time.
  • Happens frequently on Glee, but in the Season 4 premiere "The New Rachel," Marley and Rachel sing "New York State Of Mind" together.
  • 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.
  • The pilot episode of Smash has Ivy and Karen duet "Let Me Be Your Star" as each walks in to their audition for the lead role of Marilyn Monroe in the Broadway-bound new musical Bombshell.
  • 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.

  • "Southern California", a top-5 duet on the country charts by George Jones and Tammy Wynette in 1977, becomes this at mid-song. Reflecting their real-life divorce, the song is a bittersweet breakup of a Tennesse-born boy (Jones) and his restless girlfriend (Wynette), who seeks to chase her dreams in Hollywood. Five years pass, and — the song now fitting the trope — the woman is living in a run-down hotel, her dreams of silver-screen stardom and limousines shattered and forced to sing the overnight set in a sleazy brothel. Back home in Tennessee, the guy wonders about her happiness and, having not heard from her since she left, wonders if her dreams have come true. Both sing the ironic, mournful final line (and picture both singing in their respective, separate locales): "But the weather's good in Southern California."
  • “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma”, by David Frizzell and Shelly West, he the brother of Lefty Frizzell, she the daughter of Dottie West. The song is about an Oklahoma factory worker who misses an ex-girlfriend, who moved to Los Angeles to chase her dreams; the first verse comes from the man’s perspective, the second from hers, and the finale about how they both wish they could be together again. A No. 1 country smash hit in 1981, the success of “… Oklahoma” led to a series of Frizzell and West duets.
  • "Meet Me in Montana" by Dan Seals and Marie Osmond, the first No. 1 country hit for Seals, is about a pair of lovers from Montana who separate to pursue their dreams, with the man going to Nashville to break into country music and the woman to Los Angeles to become an actress. Neither succeed, and decide that their best hope for the future is to return to Montana and renew their romance.
  • 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 U2 frontman Bono in 1993. The music video depicts Sinatra singing his part of the song in New York, with Bono singing his lines in Dublin.
  • The video for Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald's duet "On My Own" features the two separated by the North American continent—LaBelle in New York City and McDonald in California.
  • 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 U.S.) 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.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, musical theatre legends and longtime friends Sierra Boggess and Julian Ovenden released duets from various musicals on YouTube, with him filming in London and her filming in New York. These were so successful that they ultimately turned them into an album, appropriately titled Together at a Distance.

  • The Thrilling Adventure Hour: In the Sparks Nevada episode "The Piano Has Been Thinking", the various residents of Mars have begun to spontaneously break out into song. One of the songs that occurs from this is "I'm Gonna Kill You Someday", a Hero vs. Villain Duet between Sparks Nevada and Techs, the robot bandit that usurped his position as Marshal on Mars. The two sing about how one of them is going to kill the other and when and where it'll happen. Because the two are in two completely different places as this happens, Sparks's girlfriend Rebecca Rose Rushmore can only note that not only did Sparks just randomly burst into song, he also randomly burst into exactly one half of a song.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Sesame Street:
    • In the "Camp Echo Rock" saga, Big Bird and Maria sing the "Postcard Song" as they write to each other and wonder what to say.
    • In "Big Bird Gets Lost" after Big Bird is separated from Maria at the ABCD Mart, the two lament the situation with the song, "Maria".

  • 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
  • "Till Then" and "Yours, Yours, Yours" between John and Abigail Adams in 1776.
  • "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.
  • "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 immediately afterwards that it was All Just a Dream.
  • "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.
  • "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.
  • "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.
  • Falsettos's penultimate number, "What Would I Do", is a duet between Marvin and a vision of the Whizzer he fell in love with - a healthy, snarky, immaculately dressed young man who sings with him about how unfair it is that their entire future was stolen from them by his illness, getting closer and closer but never able to touch. If the sudden outfit change didn't clue you into what was going on, the fact that this song directly leads into the final one, which Marvin breaks down in surrounded by his friends and family at Whizzer's grave, will.
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • "That Horrible Woman" from A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder as Phoebe and Sibella accuse each other of setting up Monty from separate interrogation rooms.
  • In "Summer Nights" from Grease, Danny and Sandy sing about their summer together to different groups of people on different parts of campus. They each have a slightly different view on what happened.
  • 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.
  • "No One is Alone" from Into the Woods has Cinderella singing to Little Red Riding Hood (on the ground) while The Baker sings to Jack (high in a tree).
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • 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 (who is longing for Marius), 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.
  • 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.
  • "Sarah Brown Eyes" from Ragtime features a grieving Coalhouse who reminisces on the night he first won Sarah's love, reliving the memory as they sing together but with choreography that stresses that she's gone and he can't hold her anymore.
  • "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.
  • Romeo et Juliette: De La Haine a l'Amour has the second-act song "Sans Elle [Without Her]" which features an exiled Roméo in duet with Juliette (who is further upstage at the apothecary). In the Hungarian adaptation, Júlia sings her part onstage while Rómeó is projected up onto a curtain.
  • "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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • The Opera from Final Fantasy VI. Unique in that the Duet is part of an opera, staged within the game.
  • Lunar: Silver Star Story features a variation done without lyrics. When Alex plays the ocarina to try to open the blue dragon shrine, Luna can sense it from far away and starts singing along, opening the shrine.
  • Due to the nature of the Rhythm Doctor remote defibrillator system, Rhythm Doctor often sees the player treating individuals in separate locations to one another as part of the same song. There's even a level named Distant Duet, where the player treats an elderly man while their coworker treats his wife, although there's no singing involved.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • Played With in BoJack Horseman's ""The Old Sugarman Place": Eddie and Honey sing a song together, separated not through space, but time.
  • Central Park:
    • In "Episode One", most of the main cast (Owen, Paige, Helen, Molly, Cole, and Birdie) sing about their goals from separate places, as a way to introduce the characters to the audience.
    • In "Squirrel, Interrupted", Owen and Paige sing "Can We Do Today Again", a song about parenting, from separate areas of the park. While Owen laments how he screwed up Cole's scavenger hunt, Paige is thrilled that Molly is doing so well at the park chess tournament.
    • In "Hot Oven", Molly and Brendan sings "I'm in a Perfect Relationship" in their respective rooms while they text each other on their bed, singing how they have the perfect relationship despite not knowing much about each other.
    • In "Live It Up Tonight", "I Did Not Account For This" features Paige and Owen racing through the rain on a bike to stop an auditor from getting Owen fired, while Molly tries to find Cole in the park after he got scared by bats during Zoom's Home Alone 2 Deleted Scenes Tour.
    • In "Down to the Underwire", Paige oversees a race between her boss and Bitsy at her office that could determine the fate of her paper, while Owen races to find the perfect training bra for Molly in a department store.
  • Daria:
    • 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 being similar, 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.
  • Hazbin Hotel:
    • "Stayed Gone" is a Quarreling Song between Vox and Alastor, who are dissing each other from their respective broadcast stations.
    • "Whatever It Takes" is sung between Carmilla and Vaggie, expressing how they'll both do anything to protect their loved ones.
    • "Finale" is a Heroes VS. Villains nonet between the main cast as they rebuild the Hotel, the Vees as they plot to take over Hell, and Alastor as he has a Villainous Breakdown in the ruins of his radio station.
  • "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.
  • In the Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart episode, "Bobo Chan", Badgerclops tries to raise a baby monster he finds alone, but ends up having to leave her into the woods to fend for herself. As they miss each other, they share a distant duet, if you can call it that, since Bobo Chan's dialogue is just the word "Bah" over and over again, except towards the end where you can make out her saying a lengthy "Oh yeah".
  • "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. In fact, it’s before they even meet for anything longer than a scene and go on to form their Odd Friendship.
    • "When Tomorrow is This Morning Again" (sung by Candace and Doofenshmirtz) from the Grand Finale "Last Day of Summer". Part of the song resembles "Busted", with Doofenshmirtz taking the position of Vanessa.
    • A few songs will involve characters scattered around town in the A-, B-, and even C-Plots:
      • "Blueprints" from "Phineas and Ferb Interrupted". In the A-Plot, the boys' friends plus Candace try to snap them out of a trance that has made them dull and boring, while in the B-Plot, Doofenshmirtz excitedly sings about how the invention he’s building will make him the most interesting man in town.
      • "My Sweet Ride" primarily Follows Phineas, Ferb, Candace, and Jeremy as they drive in the modified car, with interjections from the neighborhood mothers and Doofenshmirtz.
      • "Un-Untieable Knot": as the kids play in their replica of the legendary Gordian Knot, Candace tries to guess what could be in a safe she's trying to open.
    • The episode, "Bully Bromance Break Up" has "Hole in My Heart," a Break-Up Song between Buford and Baljeet.
    • "Cool", a Voice Clip Song that Candace and Jeremy put together over the phone.
    • 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, sung by SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs, after the latter loses a bet against Plankton and is forced to give the former away to him.
    • "Never Give Up" is sung by Spongebob and Squidward. After Squidward leaves and gives up the band, SpongeBob uses the song to bring Squidward back, while Squidward is about to give up, before he returns to the band.


Whatever It Takes

A duet with Carmilla and Vaggie vowing to protect the ones they love; Carmilla's daughters and Charlie, respectively.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

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