Follow TV Tropes


Duet Bonding

Go To
You can see the sparks flying.

Kim: Susan Nicoletti and I have been working on a new orchestral programme for the holodeck.
Paris: Lieutenant Nicoletti? The one I've been chasing for six months? Cold hands, cold heart?
Kim: [smirk] Not when she plays the oboe.
Star Trek: Voyager, "The Thaw"

Battle isn't the only way to make friends. Sometimes, you don't need an instrument of destruction to get someone on your side — you just need an instrument.

Duet Bonding happens any time a pair of people become a little closer because they play music together. This can lead to a new Love Interest, or just help them get to know each other a bit better. The piano is the most often used instrument, probably because the pair needs to sit close together to play.

On occasion, only one of the two makes music, while the other dances to it. A lighthearted option is Karaoke Bonding Scene.

A sub-trope of Let's Duet. See also Dance of Romance, Love at First Note. May introduce a Love Theme. For listening to music together, see Bonding Through Shared Earbuds.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Classi9 uses this trope multiple times:
    • Liszt and Chopin have been playing together since they were children and Chopin feels better in general on stage when playing with someone.
    • Ren gets a lot of this. Her first duet is with Beethoven when she helps him compose a piece after she finds one of his suicide notes and ends up receiving her first hug. She then asks for Liszt and Chopin's help to increase her fluidity on the piano, and they are still talking about tutoring and exchanging tips several chapters later. Ren also plays one of her own pieces with Mozart at a dinner party, which brings them even closer. Her last collaboration in the manga is with Bach for the school festival and helps to cement their companionship. Salieri presumably hoped for this trope to happen if he was working with Rentarou for the festival too.
    • The festival is full of bonding moments between unusual pairs because roommates were not allowed to work together. Tchaikovsky, in particular, got to work with Liszt and interacted long enough with Demon!Liszt to try and hit on him. Liszt rejected him like his less demonic persona, but he did so playfully and declared Tchaiko as both Liszts' friend.
    • Beethoven and Wagner got friendlier thanks to the festival, or at least Wagner got better at accepting Beethoven's signs of affection and worked on being nicer to him. Wagner still won't let the Master Musician hug him, but at least he shakes his hand now.
  • Pictured above, Kahoko Hino and Len Tsukimori from La Corda Do Oro, playing their first duet together (yes, there is more after that).
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Quatre and Trowa play a duet shortly after meeting, which cements the friendship they'll have for the rest of the series (and drives the shippers nuts).
    • The music of the duet is titled on the soundtrack as 'Sparkling Harmony,' under the subtitle 'Affection.' It's not hard to read between the lines.
  • At least two instances in Ojamajo Doremi — Doremi has one with Hazuki (Doremi on piano and Hazuki on violin) and another with her little sister Pop (both playing piano).
  • Shinji and Kaworu play piano together in the third Rebuild of Evangelion movie, as the first gesture of friendship and affection Shinji’s had since awakening from a years-long time skip. He has no idea how to play at first, but Kaworu is a virtuoso who can work with anything, and they become fast friends if not more.
  • Hibiki and Kanade play piano together to improve their teamwork early in Suite Pretty Cure ♪.
  • In Tamagotchi! Miracle Friends, since the Arc Villain Smartotchi likes to play the piano, spending time playing piano music with Pianitchi helps him warm up to her. In the final scene of that season, they play a duet for each other, with Pianitchi in the past and Smartotchi in the future.
  • Your Lie in April features this with pianist Kousei Arima and violinist Kaori Miyazono. As revealed in the finale, she even switched from violin to piano so that they could play together like this.
  • In Yuri is My Job!, in elementary school, Hime Shiraki and Mitsuki Yano gradually became friends while practicing a piano duet to play in the recital. Unfortunately, rumors spread that Mitsuki had bullied Hime into playing with her. Hime then quit the recital, which led to her friendship with Mitsuki falling apart.

    Fan Works 
  • Used to get Faustus and Mephistophiles a little closer in the Doctor Faustus fic Consort Lessons. (This draws from the 2011 Globe staging, where Arthur Darvill's Mephistophiles occasionally brings out a lute to distract Faustus and where the two share a dueling-lutes jam session during the curtain call.
  • Happens in a very one-sided, superficial way in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World between Ringo and Ranala when they drum together. She falls for him hard, and they have a quickie in the Svenjaya tunnels after George and Ringo have to sneak out of the Serenade Club.
  • In the Dark Souls fic Slice of Souls! Solaire and Maria have an impromptu jazz piano and drums jam session at the music store. Things only get better from there.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfic Songs Uncle Sings as a moment of bonding between the uncle and his nephew.

    Films — Animation 
  • A variant occurs in the animated film Alpha and Omega; wolf couples seem to bond over duet howling/dancing/singing, who knew?
  • In Corpse Bride, after Victor offends the eponymous bride, they make up by playing a piano duet together.
  • In the Inside Out short Riley's First Date? Jordan and Mr Anderson discover a mutual love of AC/DC, prompting an air guitar concert in which Mr Anderson kicks over the chair and table. Jordan is still playing air guitar as he and Riley leave the house.
  • A very memorable scene from Whisper of the Heart featuring a boy, a girl and Country Roads.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Au revoir les enfants, Jean and Julien bond over playing a piano duet while an air raid alert is going on.
  • Black Rain. American cop Charlie Vincent is challenged to sing karaoke in a Japanese nightclub by Detective Masahiro Masamoto; he launches into a rendition of Ray Charles "What'd I Say" and drags a reluctant Masahiro up on stage as well. This helps break the ice after a rocky start between the Japanese and US detectives. Note that the protagonist Detective Nick Conklin doesn't take part in this, and it takes a lot longer for Masahiro and Nick to form a bond mainly from their shared grief over Charlie's murder.
  • The river scene in The Dark Crystal where Kira is singing and Jen is playing the flute. Jen also bonds with the podlings by joining in with their jig.
  • Subverted in Deliverance— after the famous "Dueling Banjos" scene, Drew goes to shake the boy's hand; he is snubbed.
  • In Duets, Liv finally bonds with her up until then jerkass estranged father when he calls her up on stage during a karaoke competition so that they can sing a duet of her deceased mother's favorite song: Cruisin' by Smokie Robinson. The odd couple of the drugged-up ex-salesman Todd and the recently released ex-convict Reggie's friendship begins to blossom when they share a duet of Try a Little Tenderness.
  • In Electric Dreams, Madeline is rehearsing her cello when the Instant A.I.: Just Add Water! in the next room begins duetting with her through the air vent. She thinks it's the human who lives in the apartment, and they begin a relationship.
  • A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner! (the Live-Action Adaptation of The Fairly Oddparents) has "Looking Like Magic", a song sung by Timmy and Tootie's actors, accompany the characters' Falling-in-Love Montage.
  • The Generation Gap has this in the scene where Ling and Cindy spends their first night together bonding in a duet, with Cindy playing the guitar Ling bought for her.
  • In Get Over It, the main character and his new love interest play piano together to show that they are getting closer. However, he can only play twinkle-twinkle little star, and she's an expert— she improvises while he struggles along.
  • Troy and Gabriella of High School Musical become acquainted by singing karaoke in front of a crowd of people. Later, they bond some more when they practice to become the leads in the school play.
  • In The Holiday Iris and Miles bond over composing "Arthur's theme" on a piano together.
  • In La La Land, the attraction between Mia and Sebastian gets noticeably stronger during "A Lovely Night" and their apartment duet of "City of Stars".
  • Basically the premise of Music and Lyrics (not only actually writing the song, but also performing it together.)
  • Once practically revolves around the romantic bond formed through playing music together. The lead couple discovers they have incredible musical chemistry when they perform together, which awakens some other feelings as well.
  • In Pitch Perfect the Bellas sing together all the time but Beca remains aloof as she joined the Bellas because her father made completing one year of college and joining a club a prerequisite for him giving her financial aid to go to L.A to pursue her dream of becoming a music producer. In the Riff-Off scene when Beca initiate singing No Diggity we see her enjoying herself but she's walking around the other Bellas most of the time. When on the bus Chloe starts singing Party In The USA and the other Bellas join in except for Beca who at first makes a "no way I'm singing that" face with all the Bellas looking at her expectantly. She then starts belting the song with feeling, showing herself a Bella without reservation.
  • Although they were already friends, the end of the Apartheid-based film Serafina has the title character and her male friend perform a duet they had been planning for the entire movie for a school concert. The problem is, by this point, their school has been burned down by the white police, so they're performing for an invisible audience in the rubble.
  • In Stoker, India bonds with her Uncle Charlie during a piano duet. No dialogue is spoken during the scene, but it's extremely suggestive, and serves as a symbolic sex scene between the two.
  • Nearly literal version in Walk Hard - the double-entendre duet of "Let's Duet."

  • Aubrey-Maturin has the title characters do this quite often. Aubrey plays violin; Maturin plays cello. And, uh, Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    [H]e was particularly attentive in laying out the sheets, pouring Stephen another glass of wine, and, when they began, in so playing that his violin helped the 'cello, yielding to it in those minute ways perceptive to those who are deep in their music if to few others.[... T]hey carried straight on without a pause, separating, joining, answering one another, with never a hesitation nor a false note until the full satisfaction of the end.
  • In The Case Files of Jeweler Richard, Haruyoshi, who plays flamenco guitar and Henry, who plays piano become friends over Haruyoshi tutoring Henry in Japanese and music. They even make a CD together!
  • In Victorian era fantasy novel Darkness Visible, Lewis plays the piano, and Marsh the violin. Both are experts, and the first time Lewis offers to play a duet with Marsh it is a clear sign that their relationship has changed. They go on to play together many times, using the music as a much-needed emotional release when neither of them can express themselves in words.
  • In Hermann Hesse's The Glass Bead Game, when the protagonist Josef Knecht is still a young boy, the Music Master himself comes to examine if he's eligible to be educated in the elite schools. He does it by making the young Josef play music together with him. Thereafter they practically have a baroque-style version of what jazz musicians usually call "jam session", using a popular song as the basic theme. After this, the Music Master explicitly tells to Josef that making music together is the easiest way to create a friendship.
  • In Maria Watches Over Us, one of the ways in which Sachiko tries to convince Yumi to become her sœur is by playing a piano piece with her, which bears all the hallmarks of a romantic courtship.
  • Being a music-focused series, Sound! Euphonium does this multiple times to explore the relationships between its characters.
    • After scaling a small mountain and making a "confession of love", Kumiko and Reina play a euphonium-and-trumpet duet titled "The Place We Found Love".
    • Later in season 2, Kumiko and her senpai Asuka perform a euphonium duet of the eponymous piece, "Sound! Euphonium", leading them to further open up to each other.
    • Most of Liz and the Blue Bird involves flutist Nozomi and oboist Mizore being chosen to play a duet in the tone poem "Liz and the Blue Bird", and their increasingly complicated struggles in understanding both the piece and each other. When they finally understand the piece by relating it to their own experiences, they perform it perfectly in a rehearsal, which causes Nozomi to break down crying and eventually leads to the emotional climax of the film.
  • Happens in the first Thursday Next book, The Eyre Affair. The protagonist and another man play a literal piano duet, both playing the same piano at the same time but different parts of the piece. Not a straight-up example, because the two had been lovers in the past, but they weren't together at the time.

    Live Action TV 
  • Austin & Ally: Austin has to try to defy this trope because he mistakes her crush on the cellphone accessory cart guy that he read about in her Secret Diary for himself. So he starts refusing to practice with her in private. Played straight when Austin and Ally perform "Don't Look Down" and "You Can Come To Me"
  • In one of the last episodes of Battlestar Galactica Starbuck plays the piano with a pianist she previously disliked and it help her to come to terms with her past.
  • Glee:
    • This is how Jesse seduces Rachel when they first meet. And then again when Jesse returns to McKinley.
    • Rachel resolving a feud while singing "Take Me or Leave Me".
    • Blaine solidifying his foray into bisexuality with Rachel with "Don't You Want Me."
    • Blaine does it again, this time with Kurt - their rampant flirtation solidifies with "Baby, It's Cold Outside," and "Candles", which takes place right after their Relationship Upgrade, is an entire song of them staring dopily and dreamily into each others' eyes like they can't believe they've just found each other.
    • Blaine even hangs a lampshade on the Candles duet; right before The Big Damn Kiss he flat out tells Kurt that the duet would be an excuse to spend more time with him.
    • Invoked and averted simultaneously. While temporarily the coach Finn orders this for two pairs of members who are at odds with each other. While Marley does seem to like Kitty just a little more after their cover of Holding Out For A Hero its clear at the end that Kitty might be/probably is faking. As for Jake/Ryder, Jake and Ryder end up in a fight during their rendition of Superman, forcing Finn to deal with it.
    • Rachel also had a duet with her mother (Lady Gaga's song "Poker Face") when she found out who she was.
    • Community mocks Glee's use of the trope - Troy and Annie's Buffy Speak-laden attempt is thwarted by Shirley.
    • And also subverted when Rachel and Mr. Shuester sing a duet overlaid with each character's internal monologues about each other. Rachel suddenly realizes that Mr. Shuester isn't so bad, and that they have a real connection. Mr. Shuester suddenly realizes that Rachel has had the aforementioned thought process.
  • Lucifer: In "A Priest Walks Into A Bar", Lucifer does everything he can to mock and question Father Frank's faith, moral fiber and motivations, but when Frank reveals he used to play for a rock band, the two end up doing an impressive piano duet. After Father Frank is killed, Lucifer is alone playing "Knocking On Heaven's Door" (which he had earlier derided Frank for playing) when Chloe turns up just to comfort him. Despite her minimal piano skills he coaxes her into joining him in a rendition of "Heart and Soul", with the two clearly enjoying the moment.
And another beautiful duet there, this time both playing and singing, in "A Lot Dirtier Than That" - Rory sings "Bridge Over Troubled Water" accompanying herself on guitar; and on finding this, her father first supports her on grand piano and then also sings together.
  • Emily and Paige from Pretty Little Liars become closer after singing a duet version of Pink's "So What".
  • This was the only way Ted and Stephanie could communicate for a while in Scrubs, until Ted grew a pair.
  • Happens on several occasions in Star Trek:
    • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data bonds with his "mother" (the wife of his creator) via a violin duet. We get a first hint that she is not what she seems by the fact that not only Data, but she too can play inhumanly precise and fast...
    • In Lessons Picard bonded with Lt. Nella Daren over a duet where he played his Ressikan flute and she played a small portable piano. One of the duets ends in their first kiss.
    • In Star Trek: Voyager, the EMH realizes that he has a crush on Seven of Nine while they are practicing Seven's singing abilities.
  • An example that isn't romantic; the first episode of Ultraman Leo have Gen Ohtori, who serves as a big-brother-figure to 7-year-old Kaoru Umeida, bonding with Kaoru practicing on Gen's guitar. They share a sweet, tender musical moment together... before the episode suddenly cuts to Tokyo getting trashed by two kaijus.
  • In Victoria, Victoria's family ask her to play a duet with Albert in the hopes of her warming up to him. It doesn't go entirely well.


  • In Puccini's La Bohème, Rodolfo and Mimi both become quite smitten with each other as each sings their introductory aria, but it is only when they sing their love duet, "O soave fanciulla" that the fireworks really go off and the duet ends up with a kiss and a declaration of love.
  • Never having spoken to each other before their wedding, Butterfly and Pinkerton share a nearly fifteen minute love duet in Madama Butterfly ("Viene la sera") in which Pinkerton officially wins the girl's heart with his tenderness and Butterfly inflames Pinkerton's heart with her beauty and delicacy.
  • La Traviata features the the duet "Un di felice, eterea" which has Alfredo proving his love for Violetta with an account of his year-long secret devotion. Violetta's part in the duet consists of her laughter at the thought that anyone could love her and her insistence that he find someone else. But Alfredo's words end up convincing her, and after the duet she tells him he may see her again the very next day.
  • Two duets from Delibes' Lakmé qualify:
    • The famous Flower Duet (Sous le dôme épais), sung between Hindu priestess Lakmé and her servant girl Mallika.
    • "C'est le Dieu de la jeunesse" between Lakmé and Gérald.


    Short Story 
  • In the My Pretty Mermaids booklet "Wave Dancer is Missing!", Wave Dancer is captured by fishermen to be sold. As she's left locked up outside, a human boy happens to pass by at night. He cannot understand her pleas to be set free, but does settle down next to her and plays the flute. Wave Dancer dances to the tune, which convinces the boy to set her free.

  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer has "Raising a Child by Yourself" for Aunt Polly and Judge Thatcher, who bond over the difficulties involved in single parenting.
  • While they're already friends, The Lord of the Rings musical features a song called "Now and For Always", a soft Friendship Song which consists of Sam and Frodo singing a song about tales of heroes, with each adding a verse in honor of the other's accomplishments during the quest.
  • In The Music Man, Harold Hill gets the members of the River City school board to engage in barbershop quartet bonding. They're singing together the rest of the show, despite a years-long grudge.
  • Invoked in The Phantom of the Opera.
    Phantom: Sing once again with me our strange duet / My power over you grows stronger yet
  • Shrek: The Musical has Shrek and Fiona bond during "I Think I Got You Beat"
  • Subverted in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, where Sweeney is shaving Judge Turpin while singing about their tastes in "Pretty Women". Turpin believes he may have found a friend in Todd, but Todd is just trying to get the Judge's guard down so he can kill him for raping Todd's wife.

    Video Games 
  • On the third path of Fire Emblem Fates, supports between Elise and Sakura are built on this, with the former playing the violin and latter playing the koto. Official Japanese soundtrack even included a special song based on their conversations.
  • Very common in the Zelda series. Especially since Link somehow manages to woo every female protagonist he meets.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Noah and Mio first start to bond when he joins in with her playing an off-seeing tune for the people that died in the battle they just survived. Mio later returns the gesture when she joins Noah in seeing off their fallen enemy, after which they tend to play the tune together as a matter of course.
  • Played for Laughs in the Yorkshire Gubbins episode "Aye Fair Lady", where Steggy's only path through a particular robot bouncer involves getting the robot to express its inner romantic feelings through song. The robot insists on doing a duet, which Steggy treats as a huge hassle. The song is called "This Would Never, Ever, Work" and is about how Steggy and the Robot are fundamentally different and they will never work together.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, during Kaede's Free Time Events with Shuichi (in which you're playing as him during School Mode), she, the Ultimate Pianist, proposes bonding with him by practicing a piano duet, and they spend much of their time together practicing for it.
  • Done multiple times in Melody:
    • At Amy’s birthday dinner, the protagonist notices a piano in the corner of the restaurant. He asks Melody to play a duet with him to show Amy (and Arnold, if he’s there) what she’s been learning. Melody is very nervous, but performs well after the protagonist reassures her.
    • If the protagonist is giving lessons to Sophia, he gets a more private duet with her. He improvises on the piano, and has her join in.
    • Also if the protagonist is giving lessons to Sophia, he makes their last lesson of the summer a joint lesson, in which the two girls play a duet.

  • In Widdershins, The Resenter Voss uses a spirit of Envy to steal a violinist's musical talent and puts on an impromptu performance in front of his Unknown Rival Wolfe. Far from being jealous, Wolfe is thrilled and joins in with his own violin, creating a moment of happiness that causes Voss to question his motives and ultimately contributes to his slow Heel–Face Turn.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Happened in Arthur, where a piano duet stops Arthur's grudge against his cousin.
  • In the Jem episode "The Bands Break Up", Kimber and Stormer from rival groups Jem and the Holograms and The Misfits each have a falling out with their respective bands. They find themselves in a bar and are persuaded to sing a song together called "I'm Okay". They find that they make a pretty good duo and decide to continue singing together for a while. Status Quo Is God, however, and they both go back to their bands at the end of the episode, but they do become friendlier to each other.
  • The Little Mermaid (1992) introduces Gabriella in "Wish Upon a Starfish", a mermaid who can neither hear nor speak. She meets Ariel when the latter is singing about wanting to be able to dance like a human. Gabriella, who is good at Reading Lips and Body Language, shares her desire to be able to sing like Ariel can and tells Ariel about the Wishing Starfish who can grant both their wishes. They go look for him, but it turns out he can't. In the end, the mermaids decide they're good anyway: Ariel can dance her way and Gabriella can sing a "song you can see with your eyes", which is shown off during the shared song "Daring to Dance".

    Real Life 


Video Example(s):


You Are the Music

Birdie is mad and jealous that Elwood is teaching Molly and Cole how to play music, but they soon bond when they sing "You Are the Music" where they compliment each others' musical skills.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / DuetBonding

Media sources: