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May 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
"Gloria Monti (GD 1995)" <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 19 May 1994 11:10:28 -0400
"Gloria Monti (GD 1995)" <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (66 lines)
> Well -- I don't want this to turn into a "everyone post an example of a
> film with a radio in it"... so I'll simply say I'm thinking of cases
> where there is an insert shot or a pan to the radio,
        That would be an example of onscreen diegetic sound, then--if you
can visually locate the source of sound within the frame.
> where the "diegetic grounding" of the music is established on the
> soundtrack (e.g., the introduction of the crackling sounds of a 78,
> clipped frequency range of a car radio speaker, etc.)
        That is an interesting point.  I guess for me the difference in
diegetic sounds lie within the visual--either onscreen or offscreen.  If I
don't *see* the source od sound, it's automatically offscreen diegetic.  I
would not be sure about the two examples you cited.
> That last example leads me to the point that: "offscreen diegetic sound"
> is sometimes only distinguishable from extradiegetic music by aural
> cues.
        And then there is the whole question of what one considers
onscreen diegetic sound--with the visible radio and the sound emanating
from it, being rerecorded in the studio during post production.  So, even
onscreen diegetic sound as *we* know it becomes extradiegetic in technical
terms to the extent that it is being recorded after the radio is being
filmed.  Unless, of course, the sound is being recorded on location.
> (For that matter, how do we know that the phonograph in the insert shot
> is our diegetic sound source at all?
        Yes, my point above.
  (Of course, if the characters don't react to music the audience
> hears, we tend to assume its extradiegetic
        What about Ginger&Fred dancing in Central Park to no visible
orchestra?  They are reacting to the sound which the spectator knows is
> Can I ask a dumb question: In this case, talking about jazz music, why is it
> important to make a distinction between on and off-screen diegetic
> music?
        The distinction I made between onscreen/offscreen diegetic sound
did not pertain to jazz necessarily, but to sound in general.  And I
believe Krin's question had solely to do with extradiegetic jazz music.
  And another dumb question: what is off-screen diegetic music?  If
> there's an insert shot of a phonograph spinning, and the next shot is in
> the same room but the phono is not visible -- is that off-screen?
        I would say yes, in *that* second shot the music is offscreen
diegetic, while in the first it is onscreen diegetic--provided you heard
the sound coming from the phonograph.
> (Un)fortunately, Rick Altman does not hang out on the internet...
        You said that, not I. :-)
        Great example of music that starts out as being extradiegetic and
becomes onscreen diegetic: the opening sequence of *Diva.*
        I recommend Tom Levin's article, "The Acoustic Dimension: Notes on
Cinema Sound."  *Screen* 25.3 (1984): 55-68.
        Happy Malcolm's b-day to all (b. 1929).