The main point of a film is to tell a story. To help the audience understand or feel the story more deeply, films rely on sound and music in different ways. Diegetic music or source music is music in a drama (e.g., film or video game) that is part of the fictional setting and so, presumably, is heard by the characters. The term refers to diegesis, a style of storytelling. Non-diegetic music is incidental music or underscoring (often referred to as the score), which is music heard by the viewer (or player), intended to comment on or highlight the action, but is not to be understood as part of the "reality" of the fictional setting. Our objectives here are to differentiate between the two as they are creatively composed in The Snowman, and to think creatively about how we can use diegetic and non-diegetic musics to tell stories.
Questions for Discussion
What are three examples of diegetic sounds or music in The Snowman?
The composer of this film score sometimes creatively illustrates parts of the action using instruments (e.g., a cymbal crash when the snowball hits the window). What are some other examples of this in the film?
Is this score made up of multiple individual pieces, or is it just one long piece of music?
Aside from the score, this film is entirely silent. Briefly describe how you would re-compose the score for this film if you had to. Would you use the same instruments? Would you make any changes? Would you highlight certain scenes or actions? How?
National Core Arts Standards
MU:Cr1.1.5a: Improvise rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic ideas, and explain the connection to specific purpose and context (such as social, cultural, and historical).
MU:Cr2.1.5a: Demonstrate selected and developed musical ideas for improvisations, arrangements, or compositions to express intent, and explain the connection to purpose and context.
MU:Cr2.1.8a: Select, organize, and document personal musical ideas for arrangements, songs, and compositions within expanded forms that demonstrate tension and release, unity and variety, balance, and convey expressive intent.
MU:Cr2.1.8b: Use standard and/or iconic notation and/or audio/video recording to document personal rhythmic phrases, melodic phrases, and harmonic sequences.
MU:Re7.1.5a: Demonstrate and explain, citing evidence, how selected music connects to and is influenced by specific interests, experiences, purposes, or contexts.
MU:Cn10.0.5a: Demonstrate how interests, knowledge, and skills relate to personal choices and intent when creating, performing, and responding.
MU:Cn11.0.5a: Demonstrate understanding of relationships between music and the other arts, other disciplines, varied contexts, and daily life.
CASEL Core Competencies
Self-awareness, responsible decision-making, social awareness