Diegetic music is a term used to refer to sounds that exist in the world of the film. For instance, a piece of diegetic music could be a song played on a radio that characters listen to. Whereas non-diegetic music can be the film score, which is used to capture the mood of a scene without the characters themselves hearing it.
These types of non-diegetic scores are much more popular in Hollywood films. However, there have been several films that utilise diegetic music effectively.
This is Quentin Tarantino’s debut movie. A group of bank robbers escape to a safe house after a heist goes wrong. The story is set over the course of one day and several characters listen to a 70s themed radio station. For instance, in an infamous scene, one of them plays Stuck In The Middle With You by Stealers Wheel while torturing a hostage.
Guardians Of The Galaxy
In this instalment of the Marvel universe franchise, a boy is transported into outer space. He has a cassette player with him that features a number of pop songs. These are played as he flies his ship and engages in battles. Review sites such as the Telegraph praised this film for the dietetic tracks used. This technique is later repeated in other films in the series such as The Avengers: Infinity War.
A Hard Day’s Night
The Beatles were one of the biggest bands in the world during the 1960s. They helped to spread awareness of their brand thanks to this comedy film that features each member. It depicts the group travelling to a gig. Their most popular hits of the time were featured in the film. Some of these tracks were diegetic as they were performed by the Beatles during their gig.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Musical
There is an episode of the television series Buffy where each character wakes up and begins to sing. This is due to a magic spell that forces people to express their emotions through song. This plot device is a clever way of explaining the musical nature of the episode.
Each of the main characters keeps a secret. However, while singing they reveal them to everyone else. This allows the main story arc to progress in later episodes.