The Open UniversitySkip to content

The non-diegetic fallacy: film, music, and narrative space

Winters, Ben (2010). The non-diegetic fallacy: film, music, and narrative space. Music & Letters, 91(2) pp. 224–244.

Full text available as:
PDF (Accepted Manuscript) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (238Kb)
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


The pair of terms ‘diegetic^non-diegetic’ has been used by film music theory for over twenty years to describe music’s narrative source in film. While many have recognized the terms to be problematic, or have highlighted film music that appears to exist in a liminal space between the two categories, few have questioned the application of the label ‘non-diegetic’ to the majority of underscoring we hear in the movies. In arguing for a return to the cinematic (rather than narratological) idea of diegesis and emphasizing film’s inherent unreality the article presents a challenge to existing film music theory by asserting music’s important role in constructing narrative space. It is therefore most often to be considered as ‘intra-diegetic’. A new theoretical model is outlined, invoking Daniel Frampton’s concept of the ‘filmind’, and a reading offered of Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg, 1998 ).

Item Type: Journal Article
Copyright Holders: 2010 The Author
ISSN: 1477-4631
Academic Unit/Department: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Art History, Classical Studies, English and Creative Writing, Music
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Item ID: 29647
Depositing User: Benjamin Winters
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2011 09:42
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2016 13:18
Share this page:


Scopus Citations

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

▼ Automated document suggestions from open access sources

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   + 44 (0)870 333 4340