(viewer) Diegetic and Non-Diegetic Sound in Singin’ in the Rain

In the movie Singing in the Rain, the distinction between diegetic and non-diegetic sound is skillfully manipulated to create a seamless and engaging viewing experience. The film’s iconic musical numbers, such as “Singing in the Rain”, showcase how diegetic sound and non-diegetic sound work together to immerse the audience into the film.

Diegetic sound refers to sounds that originate from within the world of the film, and the characters in the film can hear those sounds. Non-diegetic sound refers to any sound that does not originate from within the fictional world of a film or narrative. Instead, it is a sound that is added during post-production or editing to enhance the viewer’s experience, convey information, or create a particular emotional or atmospheric effect.

There are many examples of diegetic sound throughout the film. The film features several musical numbers where characters sing and dance. These performances are a part of the narrative and are diegetic. For example, the famous title song, “Singing in the Rain”, is performed by Don Lockwood in the middle of a downpour on the street. The sounds of objects and actions within the story, like footsteps, doors closing, or rain falling, are diegetic. When Don dances in puddles on the street, the splashing sound of the water is diegetic because it’s part of the scene’s reality. During the premiere of The Dueling Cavalier you can hear the audience reacting to the film. Laughter, applause, and commentary from the audience are all diegetic as those sounds are a part of the characters’ experience as they watch the movie.

As for non-diegetic sound, the film features a musical score which includes orchestral music that underscores the action. This music is non-diegetic because it is not something the characters in the film are aware of. For example, the lush orchestral music that plays during romantic scenes is non-diegetic and is used to set the mood for the audience. For instance, during the opening credits and the “Good Morning” sequence, the music enhances the mood and rhythm of the scenes but is not coming from any visible source within the film’s story. Occasionally, non-diegetic sound effects are used for comedic or dramatic effect. For instance, when Lina Lamont screeches in her high-pitched voice, there might be a non-diegetic sound effect added to exaggerate the effect for comedic purposes.

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