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Diegetic Sound: Its Role in the World of Plays and Films

Jun 6,22

Diegetic sound is defined as any sound that is diegetically sourced or originating from within the world of the story. This can include dialogue, music, and sound effects. Non-diegetic sound, on the other hand, is any sound that is not diegetically sourced and therefore does not originate from within the story world. Some examples of non-diegetic sound include a narrator’s voice, soundtrack music, and sound effects that are not diegetically motivated.

Diegetic-Non-Diegetic-Sound

GoAssignmentHelp‘s Film and Media experts say that the role of diegetic sound may vary according to:

  • The medium:In plays, for example, the diegetic sound is often used to provide atmosphere or create a sense of place. These may include sounds of the sea, a busy street, or birds in a forest.

In films, diegetic sound can be used for similar purposes, but it also often serves to advance the plot or further character development. Some sounds that can be used to advance the plot may include footsteps, music emanating from a radio or television, or a car horn.

  • The genre: Diegetic sound is used differently in different genres of plays and films. In a comedy, for instance, diegetic sound might be used for comedic effect, while in a thriller it might be used to create suspense or tension.

Common diegetic sounds you hear in a comedy include laughter, applause, cheering, whistles, and boos. In a thriller, you may hear creaking doors, heartbeats, screams, footsteps, and breathlessness.

  • The story being told: In some cases, diegetic sound may be used to heighten the realism of the story world. In other cases, it may be used for more symbolic or abstract purposes. Some stories make use of diegetic sound to create a feeling of authenticity.

For instance, a story set in the 1970s might use diegetic sound to include period-appropriate music or radio static. Other stories might use diegetic sound in a more abstract way, such as having a character’s inner thoughts be verbalized as diegetic dialogue.

What is diegetic sound in drama?

In live plays, when characters are on stage, whatever sound they make is diegetic. That includes any music played by an onstage band or anything said by the characters. Anything that comes from offstage, such as a telephone ringing or a storm raging, is non-diegetic.

Tips to Use Diegetic Sounds in Plays

To make the best use of diegetic sound on stage, sound artists and directors should:

  1. Take precaution that the diegetic sound does not cover up any essential dialogue.
  2. Ensure that the diegetic sound is loud enough to be heard by everyone in the audience, but not so loud that it becomes overpowering.
  3. Make sure the diegetic sound supports and enhances the mood of the scene.
  4. Choose diegetic sounds that are appropriate for the time period and setting of the play.

Examples of Diegetic Sounds in Plays

You can use diegetic sound effectively in your play in the following ways:

  1. Set the scene

If your play is set in a busy city, for instance, you might use diegetic sound to create a sense of place. This could include sounds of traffic, sirens, and people talking.

  1. Advance the plot

Diegetic sound can be used to move the story forward. For example, if a character is trying to find someone in a crowded room, you might use diegetic sound to create a sense of urgency.

  1. Create the mood

Diegetic sound can be used to create different moods and atmospheres. For example, if your play is set in a haunted house, you might use diegetic sound to create a feeling of suspense and fear.

  1. Add realism

If you want your play to feel more realistic, you can use diegetic sound to add authenticity. For example, if your play is set in the past, you might use diegetic sound to include period-appropriate music or sound effects.

  1. Comic effect

In a comedy, diegetic sound can be used for comedic effect. For example, you might use diegetic sound to create a scene where a character is trying to hide from someone.

How are diegetic sounds used in films?

In films, sounds can be edited and modified. This allows for a great deal of creativity in how diegetic sounds are used. For example, a film might use diegetic sound to create a sense of place or atmosphere. This might include the sound of waves crashing on a beach, or the sound of birds chirping in a forest. Diegetic sound can also be used to advance the plot or further character development. For instance, a character might hear footsteps behind her, which creates suspense. Or, a character might turn on the radio and dance along to the music, which furthers his development as a fun-loving guy.

Tips to Record Diegetic Cinematic Sounds

Some tips on how to record diegetic sound for your film:

  1. To create a sense of place, use field recordings. This means recording the sounds of the location where your film is set.
  2. To create a sense of atmosphere, use Foley effects. These are special sound effects that are added in post-production to reproduce everyday sounds.
  3. To advance the plot or further character development, use diegetic dialogue. This is the dialogue that your characters speak on screen.
  4. Make sure the diegetic sound is appropriate for the time period and setting of your film.
  5. Ensure that the diegetic sound does not cover up any essential dialogue or action.

Examples of Diegetic Sounds in Movies

In movies, diegetic sounds can do everything they can do for plays. Besides, films and videos may also use diegetic sound to:

  1. Convey a character’s inner thoughts. For example, in the movie “The Matrix,” the character Neo hears a phone ringing even though there is no phone around him. This diegetic sound lets us know that he is receiving a call from Morpheus, who is going to give him life-changing news.
  2. Set the tone for a scene. For example, in the movie “Jaws,” the diegetic sound of the shark’s theme song creates a feeling of suspense and fear.
  3. Create an emotional reaction. For example, in the movie “Up,” the diegetic sound of Ellie’s voice as she reads her letter to Carl creates a sense of sadness and nostalgia.

If you are pursuing Film Studies or aspire to become a playwright, learning about diegetic sound and its various uses is essential. With some creativity, you can use diegetic sound to create a variety of moods and atmospheres. Just remember to keep the diegetic sound appropriate for the time period and setting of your film or play. And make sure it doesn’t cover up any essential dialogue or action!

 

June 6, 2022

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