Is there a name for this kind of sloppy duet?
November 27, 2017 10:27 AM   Subscribe

This 2003 live radio performance of Frank Black's "Song of the Shrimp" has Frank and Glen Hansard singing a duet in an unusual way. They're not always synced up, with both of them wandering all over the place and occasionally dropping out for a few bars, resulting in a sloppy, slapdash feeling I absolutely love. Is there a specific term for this kind of anti-harmony? Are there other examples in any genre?
posted by ejs to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This style is parodied to great effect by Kristin Wiig and Fred Armisen as "Garth and Kat."

I always think of the Cash/Dylan duet from Johnny's show in the late 60s. Doesn't really get going until they come in together around the ~1:45 mark.
posted by SoundInhabitant at 10:41 AM on November 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

William Shatner and Joe Jackson Common People
posted by fluttering hellfire at 12:06 PM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

polyphony and/or counterpoint?
posted by Siobhan at 12:49 PM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't think there is a specific term for this but it sounds like they are shifting between a standard sort of homophonic texture and a sort of heterophonic one.
posted by Television Name at 2:11 PM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Not to pick on Shane MacGowan, but two of his efforts spring to mind:

What a Wonderful World (with Nick Cave)

Haunted (with Sinead O'Connor)
posted by blixapuff at 2:21 PM on November 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't think I know of a specific technical term for this thing, I'd maybe call it "Loose-harmony" style duet? It's not exactly anti-harmony because they do harmonize a bit at random moments when they feel like it.

Not an example, but the song itself might have been influenced by Robert Johnson's Dead Shrimp Blues.
posted by ovvl at 4:04 PM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Pretty far back, but the Rat Pack had some live performances that I would describe as "sloppy duets" - one's singing while another is heckling, while another sings backup intermittently or is laughing or whatever. Here's another similar bit by Jimmy Durante & Bing Crosby - maybe it's a popular schtick in vaudeville/post-vaudeville "let's put on a show" times?
posted by carlypennylane at 6:39 PM on November 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Mountain Goats' Lonesome Surprise does something very similar starting around 30 seconds in.
posted by rhiannonstone at 8:00 PM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

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