Sound is a vital part of any film. It can set the mood, change our emotions, and move us in ways that visuals alone cannot.

There are many types of sound that we hear in movies:

  • diegetic sounds come from sources within the world of the story;
  • non-diegetic sounds are those not originating from inside the scene;
  • background noises are those heard outside or off to one side (without being related to what’s happening on-screen); and
  • source music is played by an orchestra, band, singer, etc. as if it were coming out of speakers or radio speakers.

Sound is a powerful tool in creating an environment in film. It can be used to create tension, give clues about the mood or situation of characters, and even help tell the story. But what exactly is diegetic sound?



What Is Diegetic Sound?

Diegetic sound is a sound that comes from within the story, such as somebody speaking or an object making noise.

This can be contrasted with non-diegetic sound which is a sound that does not come from anything in the story.



Sound is one of the most important elements in film. It’s what creates a sense of environment and realism, but it also plays an integral role in storytelling. Let’s take a look!

Diegetic Sound Explained

Diegetic sound is created by sources that exist within the world depicted on screen, such as car engines or crashing waves.

Non-diegetic sound, meanwhile, comes from outside the frame and exists only for the audience – like music or voiceover narration.

The word “diegetic” is a film-specific term, meaning it’s used to describe sounds that originate from within the movie.

It can also be used in theater or video games, but is most commonly associated with movies.

Diegetic Sound Definition

What is sound design? Sound design can be an integral part of a film, video game or even live theatre. The sounds that we hear in those environments are diegetic and non-diegetic.

Non-diegetic sounds are not produced by the environment that you’re immersed in but rather added into the space by the creators later on – like music for example.

Diegetic sound, however, is any sound that was created in the world you’re currently inhabiting and could include anything from a voice to doors slamming shut.

What Is Diegetic Sound

A diegetic sound is any sound that the characters in a film or play can hear. Diegetic sounds are used to help the audience understand what’s happening on screen and create tension, suspense, and excitement.


Music played by an actor in a movie for example would be considered diegetic because it’s heard by both the audience and other actors on the set.

I bet you’ve heard of diegetic sound before, but do you know what it means? Diegetic sound is a type of sound that comes from the world or depicted situation in which the characters exist.

Sound design is an integral part of movies, TV shows, video games and other media.

For example, in the film “War of the Worlds” (2005), sound designer John Roesch used a combination of traditional foley work and diegetic sound to create a sense of realism that would make viewers feel as if they were watching an actual war going on.

Examples Of Diegetic Sounds

Every day, we hear sounds that are not natural. The sound of the alarm clock, a car driving by or even someone chewing gum can all be considered diegetic sounds. When something in the story is happening and you hear it too! For example – If we were watching an episode of Law and Order and heard gunshots ring out, those would be diegetic sounds because they’re coming from within the story.

The word diegetic is a term that is used to describe the sound effects in movies, TV shows, and video games.

Diegetic sounds are also known as on-screen sounds because they are heard from the perspective of one or more characters in the movie or TV show.

Non-diegetic sound effects are those heard independently from what’s occurring on screen.

Diegetic sound is defined as the sound that originates from inside the diegesis or story world. The audience can tell if a sound is diegetic because it is only heard by people within the story world.

These sounds can be either naturalistic (sounds of nature, such as rain) or non-naturalistic (man made sounds).

The diegetic sound is the most important element of film that connects us to the story and characters. It’s what makes movies, TV shows, video games, etc., so immersive.

The sound can be anything from a character’s voice or music playing in the background to an on-screen explosion.

One way we know that something isn’t real is if it doesn’t have any audible noise coming out of it – like when you’re watching a movie in your living room with no volume on!


Speaking Of Diegetic Sound

Sound is one of the most important aspects in storytelling. It can create tension, fear, or anticipation.

A sound cue might warn us that something bad is about to happen, and we don’t even know it yet.

Sound cues are also used to establish a mood for the rest of the scene-a suspenseful orchestral piece may be playing while someone walks down a dark alley at night, heightening the danger they feel.

Have you ever wondered what sound does to the mind? Well, it can actually have a profound effect on your mood and emotions.

Did you know that when we hear music, our brain releases dopamine? This hormone is responsible for feelings of happiness and euphoria.

The research on this topic has been going on long before smartphones became ubiquitous in people’s lives.

Back in 2008, Dr. Glenn Schellenberg published a paper showing how background music affects one’s concentration levels during cognitive tasks such as reading or doing math problems.

In the study, participants were split into two groups: those listening to no music and those listening to instrumental music from The Age of Adz by Sufjan Stevens (a favorite artist).


The sound of the diegetic world is often taken for granted. As a result, people don’t realize that this sound is an essential part of film and storytelling.

Diegetic sound has always been used to create moods, set tone, or even just provide background noise in order to make scenes feel more authentic.

Crossing The Diegetic Line

The word “diegesis” comes from the Greek word for “telling”. It’s when an author tells us a story.

A diegetic sound is one that originates in the world of the narrative, as opposed to coming from outside it.

The most common way this happens is through dialogue between characters who are present and we see or hear them speak.

But there can also be music playing, animals making noise, etc., which must have originated inside of the world of that particular story itself, because they’re not actually happening in real life right now.

Every movie has a narrator, but do you know how to tell the difference between a diegetic and non-diegetic narrator? A diegetic narrator is one that exists within the story’s world.

This means they’re not on screen, but rather exist in the same space as their audience. Non-diegetic narrators are ones that have an outside perspective of what’s happening in the film or play.

They can be voiceovers, text scrolls, or even just someone off camera who we never see (often used for comedic effect).

The diegesis is the world that a story takes place in. It’s what separates an audience from the characters and makes for good storytelling.

The diegetic line is the point at which scenes or events within a film are presented as though they were happening to or around people, but not necessarily to any specific character.

Crossing this line can cause confusion on behalf of both filmmaker and viewer because it becomes unclear who we should be following.

The diegetic line is the divide between the story and the outside world.

The story is told by a narrator and everything that happens in it stays within its boundaries, unless there are flashbacks or dreams.

Characters who break this rule are considered to have crossed over into reality.

Diegetic Dialogue

The term “Diegetic” is multifaceted and can also mean a literary device in which the characters are able to speak aloud to one another.

In other words, it’s when you can hear the character’s voice in your head as they read their lines. It often takes place during moments of high suspense or intensity and has been referred to by some people as “the sound effects for my inner movie.”

Part of the definition of diegesis is “the telling or narration.” So, in a way, diegetic dialogue refers to narrative speech that occurs within the story world itself.

These are words spoken by characters in a novel or film and which aren’t thought so much as described by an observer.

For instance, if Alice says “I can’t believe he kissed me!” then this would be considered diegetic dialogue because it’s coming directly from Alice’s perspective and she’s not saying it after the event has happened.

The usage of this term can get confusing because some people use it to refer to any kind of on-screen dialogue while others distinguish between them using terms like ‘reactive.


Diegetic dialogue is a term that refers to speech in movies, TV shows, and other forms of media.

It’s often used as a way to provide exposition or inform the audience about what is happening on-screen without changing camera angles or cutting away from the scene.

The term “diegetic” refers to dialogue that is located in the fictional world of a movie or book.

Diegetic dialogue could be spoken by any character, including those who have been given little screen time and are not the main protagonist.

Diegetic Music In Film

Soundtracks are an important part of cinema. The music that accompanies the images on screen can create a feeling, establish tone, and even change how we interpret what is happening on-screen.

But there’s more to it than just adding ambiance; diegetic sound effects play a vital role in immersing viewers into a film’s world and providing clues about what is going on at any given moment.

In film, the diegetic music is music that can be heard by characters in the movie.

For example, in a scene where two people are having an argument, when one person leaves and slams the door behind them we might hear a loud crash.

That sound effect would not count as “diegetic” because it’s not coming from within the world of the movie but rather from outside of it.

Diegetic music is usually used to help tell us what mood characters are feeling or how they’re reacting to something happening on screen.

It helps viewers understand their emotional state without dialogue or narration so that we know what they’re thinking and feeling without being told explicitly.

Music is an integral part of film. It sets the tone, builds suspense, and creates emotional connections between characters.

In some cases, it even tells a story all on its own. Diegetic music is sound that originates in the world of movies or TV shows.


For example, if two people are talking in an alleyway and you can hear their footsteps echoing off buildings as they walk away from each other then those footsteps are diegetic because they originate from inside the scene itself.

Diegetic Sound Effects

Have you ever watched a movie and heard something like an explosion go off, but in reality nothing was happening on the screen? This is called diegetic sound.

Diegetic sound is generated by things that are supposed to be happening within the film’s universe or story.

Sound is an important aspect of film, and it’s not just the dialogue that has a role in how we experience movies.

Some diegetic sound effects are used to create tension or emphasize certain scenes. For example, when someone is injured in a movie, you might hear their moans as they’re lying on the ground with blood pouring from their wounds.

Other times, these sounds can be used for comedic effect; think about all of those cartoon characters getting hit by something and being knocked unconscious because there was no other way to show that they were hurt without making them fall over or collapse dramatically.

The use of sound effects also helps us understand what’s happening around us even if we don’t have access to visuals

In the world of film, sound is an integral part. It can dictate mood, set a scene, and even tell a story. There are many diegetic sounds in films which are made by someone or something within the movie itself (e.g., footsteps).

But there are also non-diegetic sounds that exist solely to add atmosphere to a film and aren’t coming from anything on screen – these would be things like music or dialogue not coming from any character’s mouth in particular.

The sound is so captivating that it can make or break a film. It’s not just important for the director to think about how they are going to use diegetic sound effects, but also the audience needs to be taken into account.

The first step in using diegetic sound effectively is by setting up an expectation of what we will hear before anything actually happens.

Diegetic sounds need to have some kind of connection with something on screen and should never be jarring or out of place.

What Is Non-Diegetic Sound?

Non-diegetic sound is any noise that doesn’t originate from the film or video game world, and can have both good and bad effects on a person’s experience with the media.

Soundtracks are a powerful way to add depth and emotion to video games. They can be used as an ambient backdrop, or they can highlight the emotional arc of a character’s story.

One type of sound that is often overlooked in games is non-diegetic sound: music and other sounds that exist outside of the game world, but influence what happens within it.

Non-diegetic sounds have been used since early film days for example during silent films, when orchestral music was played live on set to provide moods for scenes.


In film and video production, the term “non-diegetic” refers to any sound that does not originate from a source within the story.

The term comes from drama criticism where diegesis means “the events of a narrative.”

Non-diegetic sounds are usually background music or other sounds which might be coming from off screen. Sometimes they can also be taken as an indication of how characters feel about their surroundings, such as when someone whistles while in a happy mood.

Non-diegetic sound, also known as nondiegetic music or background music, is any type of audio that cannot be heard by the characters in a film or television show.

Background music can range from various songs to sounds and noises that are not generated by the environment that the story takes place.

Non-Diegetic Sound Examples

Sound is an integral part of all our lives, but many people don’t know how to identify it. There are two specific types of sound: diegetic and non-diegetic.

Diegetic sounds come from a source within the world of the film such as dialogue or background noise while non-diegetic sounds do not come from a source in the film’s world like music or sound effects.

Sound effects are used in many different ways to enhance the viewer’s experience. One of the best-known uses is for diegetic sounds, or sounds that originate from onscreen events.

When a character walks up to a door and opens it, we hear the sound of creaking hinges as the door swings open. This type of sound effect is used to heighten suspense or drama by drawing attention to what may be behind the door.

Another use for sound effects is non-diegetic, which refers to any sound that does not originate from onscreen events but instead provides background noise.

For example, if our main character was walking down an empty street at night, we might hear traffic rumbling in the distance or crickets chirping nearby

Sound is an important part of our everyday lives. It can evoke emotions, create a sense of place, and help tell the story. But what do you need to know about sound?

Since the dawn of time, humans have been creating sounds for communication purposes. Music has existed in many forms throughout history and it’s still popular today as we use it to entertain ourselves or share with others.

But there are also other kinds of sound that we don’t always think about—non-diegetic sounds such as background noise at a restaurant or car horns outside your window.

These types of sounds can be just as important when telling stories through films because they’re included alongside diegetic ones like dialogue from characters on screen.

Have you ever thought about how sound and music are not always in sync with the visuals on screen?

Oftentimes, there is a noticeable lag between what we see happening and what we hear. This can be jarring for some viewers so filmmakers have to find creative ways of making sure that everything syncs up without being distracting.

Picture this. You’re sitting in a movie theater watching the latest blockbuster with your friends and you can’t hear anything but the voices of the people around you, the air conditioner, or an ambulance going by outside.

It’s not that unusual for sound to be diegetic when it is created from sources within a scene (e.g., sounds made by characters), but non-diegetic sound is also used in movies to help set a mood or tone for scenes where there are no natural sources of sound (e.g., music).

Have you ever noticed that some sound in movies and TV shows doesn’t seem to be coming from the speakers? This phenomenon is called non-diegetic sound.

It can include actions, music or other sounds that are not meant to come from any of the characters’ mouths or the environment.

In the movie “Jaws”, there are many instances of non-diegetic sound. The most notable one is when Chief Brody hears a noise coming from the ocean and asks Quint, “What was that?”

In this scene, we hear a large splash in the background but see no corresponding visual element on screen to indicate what he’s hearing.

Think about the last time you watched a movie. The scene was intense, and then the music changed to sound more suspenseful.

You could feel your heart rate rise while listening to it, right? Movies use non-diegetic sound such as music to change how we are feeling or what is happening in the scene.

In conclusion, as you can see, diegetic sound is a very popular topic for the film industry, but the term itself is multifaceted and covers many areas.