Before diving into a variety of films and discussing the types of music (new or existing) used as the soundtrack, I wanted to introduce you to several impressive musical terms you can use when discussing movie music with your friends: diegetic and non-diegetic.
Diegetic music is the type of music that is not only heard by the viewer, but also by the on-screen characters in the film. Here's an example. As in this example, typically the viewer can see the source of the music on screen to help determine whether or not it is diegetic. In this case, you can see Alex put the tape into the cassette player with intent to listen to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. We will discuss A Clockwork Orange in more detail later this month.
The opposite of diegetic music would be non-diegetic. This type of music serves as a background to the film and can only be heard by the viewer, not the characters on screen. An example would be this clip found in Hook. Here, the music enhances the plot for the viewer as Peter Pan has just remembered how to fly. The characters, however, cannot hear it themselves. We will discuss this film’s composer, John Williams, later this month.
Can you think of any examples of diegetic or non-diegetic music from your favorite films?