News: THE MULE, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood: now on disc and streaming!


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Author Topic: Lennie Niehaus ........ no more !  (Read 8801 times)
AKA23
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« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2003, 08:54:37 PM »

KC, I think I have a little bit better idea of the terminologies of diegetic and nondiegetic sounds, but even after reading Daisy's description from her link, it's still a bit hazy. Can you please explain it so that I will understand it better in clearer terms? If you could explain it in plain english, I would appreciate it, because I do understand what it means, but only in context really. I'm not at all clear as to what the word ACTUALLY means. So, could you break it down for us if you would be so kind?  :)
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Daisy Abigael
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« Reply #21 on: January 29, 2003, 03:04:24 AM »

What's the problem AKA?  Does it only take if KC explains it to you? >:(


Diegesis  Greek word for "recounted story" or "narrative history"
 
The film's diegesis is the total world of the story action.

That is everything that happens in the fictional world of the story.

Diegetic   adjective (describing word) derived from Diegesis, meaning: Of the total world of the film.

A sound is Diegetic if it happens in the world inhabited by the characters on screen.

A sound is non-diegetic if it happens outside of that world.  For example a voice-over narration or music unheard by the characters on screen.




I really don't know how else it could possibly be explained.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2003, 04:14:32 AM by Daisy Abigael » Logged

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« Reply #22 on: January 29, 2003, 07:27:43 AM »

AKA, I thought Daisy's original explanation was perfectly clear, to say nothing of the clear and concise definition you posted yourself. This isn't the Forum for vocabulary growth ... the topic of this thread is the music of Lennie Niehaus and the role of his music in Clint's films.

Next time you're in a movie and there's music, ask yourself whether the characters are hearing it too. If they are, it's part of their story ... it's diegetic. If they aren't, it's part of the filmmaker's presentation of the story: non-diegetic.

I'll have more to say on Eastwood's use of both types of music when we discuss Bridges next week.
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AKA23
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« Reply #23 on: January 29, 2003, 11:51:24 AM »

Okay, I think that I understand this now and no Daisy, you're explanation was perfectly fine, and I thank you for it. I still didn't really understand it fully because I think I was perhaps reading too much into the term when its meaning is actually rather simple. It doesn't have anything to do with only KC clarifying it for me. You did a fine job yourself! :) I just wanted MORE clarification. Thank you Daisy :)

Okay, KC and Daisy, if I understand this correctly, isn't virtually ALL film music nondiegetic? The only type of music that is diegetic is if it's part of the character's world as if somebody is listening to the radio and we as the audience hear it, but so do the characters because it's part of the scene in the film. So, unless it's on the radio, or something like that (IE some of the music in Play Misty For Me , the scene in A Perfect World where they are listening and dancing along to that recording of Big Fran's Baby , etc.) than it's nondiegetic. So, your point KC was to say that Lennie Niehaus and Clint Eastwood try to use as little OUTSIDE music as possible, correct? The absence of nondiegetic music is the virtual absence of film music. Period. Correct?
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Daisy Abigael
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« Reply #24 on: January 29, 2003, 12:37:42 PM »


...if I understand this correctly, isn't virtually ALL film music nondiegetic?

Yes.  Apart from backstage musicals, of course.  And it is possible if most of your film takes placxe in clubs and bars and so on.

Quote
The only type of music that is diegetic is if it's part of the character's world as if somebody is listening to the radio and we as the audience hear it, but so do the characters because it's part of the scene in the film. So, unless it's on the radio, or something like that (IE some of the music in Play Misty For Me , the scene in A Perfect World where they are listening and dancing along to that recording of Big Fran's Baby , etc.) than it's nondiegetic.

Yes, another source of diegetic music is where the characters make the music themselves - Clint plays the piano in In The Line Of Fire.

This is a very simple distiction in theory but it becomes more complex in practice.  A lot of musicals have people singing and dancing and playing music - diegetic clearly.  But what about the orchestra that sweeps in to accompany the pian player on the screen - that part of the score is non-diegetic!  Confusing, huh?

To go back to For A Few Dollars More:  Indio uses the chimes (diegetic) to start off the countdown to a showdown.  This sound feeds into Morricone's (non-diegetic) score, becomes amplified and used as a theme.  The chimes of that watch actually behave in a very unnatural way and is clearly not heard like that by the characters on screen - unless this reflects a psychological distortion caused by the fear of death?

The question of altered states also muddies the water.  When one character is hallucinating but another is not - are the sounds he and we hear diegetic or not?

The mixing of the diegetic and the non-diegetic can be very subtle - but we as an audience accept it all.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2003, 12:40:28 PM by Daisy Abigael » Logged

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« Reply #25 on: January 29, 2003, 09:48:42 PM »

Yes, AKA, I think you've got the idea now. Thanks, Daisy, for all your good and helpful explanations.

The terms "diegetic" and "non-diegetic" may be a trifle jargon-y. However, once you've grasped the concept, based on the root of the word, they are clearer than any other terms in use. "In the story" ... "Not in the story." What could be simpler? (Though, as Daisy says, there are cases where the boundaries are blurred.)

For what it's worth, my favorite film terms reference book, Ira Koningsberg's The Complete Film Dictionary, doesn't list the terms (at least, not the 1989 edition, which is the one I have). Instead, he uses "source music" (for music with a source within the film, i.e. what I would call diegetic) and "background music," for "music [that] comes from no source within the film" (i.e. non-diegetic). But I don't think those terms are intuitively as clear ... even if they're more likely to be used by film professionals, as opposed to academic "filmies."

And yes, I think it's definitely a very conscious stylistic choice of Eastwood's to minimize the music in his films that his characters DON'T hear ... whatever you want to call it. In his very first film as director, Play Misty for Me, there is NO non-diegetic music at all, except for the interpolated love scene, which is an extended montage sequence with no dialogue. The music heard by the audience during this scene is the song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," as sung by Roberta Flack ... so even here, Eastwood chose not to opt for conventional "movie music."

Here are a couple of quotes from an interview with Stuart Kaminsky (published in Kaminsky's Clint Eastwood, 1974, and reprinted in Clint Eastwood: Interviews):

Quote
KAMINSKY: Let’s talk about Play Misty for Me now. First, why did you stick with the particular song “Misty,” since you had so much trouble getting it?

EASTWOOD: The problem with a new song would have been that you had to play it a lot in the film, and the way the script was designed, you couldn’t play the song a lot. I couldn’t use it as an underscore. The script was designed by Bob Daley and myself to have most of the music from a source. Now, I needed a song that was not so old that the present generation would say: Gee, I never heard of that. It had to be an old-new song, something that everyone from eighteen on would recognize. The studio wanted me to use “Strangers in the Night,” which they own, but it’s not a classic, though it was a hit, and there’s that dooby-dooby-do at the end. I just thought it wouldn’t work. Also, it had already been used once in a movie, and I just didn’t like the title “Strangers in the Night” for the movie. It was a square hit song, you know.

Quote
EASTWOOD: ... People were ... suggesting that the part of the other girl, Tobie, needed strengthening and there should be some sort of love scene. Well, I hated the idea of a dialogue sort of love scene, bull$#!t dialogue, and I was trying to look for a visual way to show life was really falling into place for these two people. I heard this song, “The First Time,” going to work one day, on this FM station, and I said: God, that just tells the whole story, so I went out and bought the song, not just the song but the whole record and just took the master tape and played it, and I edited the scene to that, because I thought it told the whole story. There was nothing else around, no human life, aircraft, automobiles, etc. in that sequence. It showed that things were really working well for them. That was the only non-source music I used.

(Emphasis added, in both quotes.)
« Last Edit: January 30, 2003, 12:46:27 AM by KC » Logged
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