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.




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 ).

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