Need technical term for background music in movies

I came across the term once, but I can’t remember it. Sometimes in movies somebody turns on the radio or something like that and the music plays and sets the mood for the scene.

I was watching Apocalypse Now the other night. There is the scene in which Colonel Kilgore plays Wagner music over the air invasion. There is another scene in which Willard plays the radio which plays ‘Satisfaction’ over Mr Clean’s water skiing.

Help me out, willya?

Could you be thinking of diegetic?

I usually hear it in reference to Rear Window, where all the music comes from within the movie world.


not what you’re looking for. :smack:

Almost all of the music. There is music over the opening and closing credits that is not diegetic, but all the music during the body of the film comes from the composer’s apartment or radio music.

There is also incidental music, which is music that is in the background of the film (like music in chase scenes, or the rising tones when the hero achieves his big victory), but that isn’t digetic.


I’m seconding (thirding, apparently) diegetic. Has to be naturalized within the fictional world, though, as dasgupta says-- once the John Williams orchestra kicks in it doesn’t count.

That is the word. Thanks

The distinction between diegetic (also called source and ambi-diegetic) music and non-diegetic music was the basis of a great gag in Blazing Saddles: Black Bart is riding his horse to a rising jazz swell, which the viewer can only assume is tacked-on and non-diegetic. The camera then dollies to reveal, in the middle of nowhere, the Count Basie Orchestra playing right there in the desert…

In the “Dogme 95” filmmaking movement, if music is included, it must be diegetic. All other sound, too.

This is the term I’ve always heard to describe it.

Except for the opening theme song, all the music in The China Syndrome is source music.