Naturalising the Artifice: The Integration of Diegetic Theatre Music

Robert Dean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century the theatrical traditions and dramatic conventions of the early nineteenth century were challenged by the new modern dramas that would come to dominate the stage in the years that followed. From a musical perspective the changes in the relationship between music and drama that took place during this period are extremely important. The realistic aesthetic could not support the presence of music provided by an offstage orchestra. However, if the non-diegetic underscoring was removed so too were the dramaturgic functions that it completed. One solution to this problem was to use diegetic accompaniments performed by musicians within the storyworld as the vessel through which musical meaning was imparted. This article identifies and explores the techniques adopted to facilitate a switch from non-diegetic to diegetic musical accompaniments and the ways in which this transition created and restricted dramatic possibilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257 - 270
Number of pages13
JournalStudies in Musical Theatre
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • musical dramaturgy
  • diegetic
  • non-diegetic
  • Ibsen
  • Chekov
  • Shaw


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