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Diegetic Switch

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"Put some music on! What do you think this is, a funeral?"
Ulysses Klaue before "Opps" is played, Black Panther

A piece of music is being played diegetically (that is, it's in the scene, played on someone's radio or otherwise). As the scene fades out, the music shifts to a non-diegetic version of... the same song that was just playing.

See Interscene Diegetic for when the music continues through the second scene but does not shift to a non-diegetic version. Of course, the switch can be from non-diegetic to diegetic, as well.

The inverse is Left the Background Music On, where music that the audience assumes is non-diegetic is revealed to be diegetic, often for a comic effect.


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  • The Volkswagen commercial with the man in the ski mask starts off with "Я очень рад, ведь я, наконец, возвращаюсь домой" (aka the "trololo song") playing faintly over a convenience store's muzak. After the ad delivers its punchline, the song starts up again as the background music.

  • Kyosuke's violin-playing in episode 5 of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Interestingly, when the music starts, only the violin (actually, a viola) is heard; when Kyosuke stops playing and the switch occurs, the track continues into a full orchestra.
  • In Macross Frontier, Ranka Lee screws up the courage to sing all by herself in the market, and starts a cover of Sheryl Nome's "What 'bout My Star?". It starts as a solo with Megumi Nakajima (Ranka's VA + singer), moving to a full rock band and even brings in the original singer (May'n singing as Sheryl) as a duet.
  • In the final scene of Gankutsuou, Eugénie is playing on the piano. The music she plays is the piano accompaniment of the show's theme song, and then the end credits start appearing and the rest of the theme song joins in.

    Films — Animation 
  • 5 Centimeters per Second has the famous J-ballad "One More Time, One More Chance" playing first muffled through tiny speakers in a convenience store and then at full clarity volume through the ending montage.
  • 9 has "Over the Rainbow" start playing on a scratchy phonograph operated by 3 and 4 after the group blows up the Machine's factory, believing they have defeated it once and for all, and the song gradually loses its phonograph-like qualities as the scene continues until it is heard free of the dampening, static, and occasional skipping that occur when it first starts up. It also plays for a bit free of in-world sound effects over it. This continues while 5 discovers that the Machine is not dead and is in fact coming towards them out of the rubble, leading to somewhat humorous but terrifying Soundtrack Dissonance while 5 runs screaming up the hill towards the others with the Machine in hot pursuit. The song ends the instant the phonograph's needle is knocked off.
  • The Disney dub track for Castle in the Sky has this happen to Pazu's bugle call.
  • Coco:
    • During the scene where Miguel and Héctor are in the pit upon learning the truth, Héctor looks at the ripped-up photo from the ofrenda and begins singing "Remember Me" A cappella, before switching to the flashback of him playing the song to Coco when she was younger.
    • "Proud Corazón" starts out as a background piece played as Héctor reunites with Imelda and Coco in the Land of the Dead before crossing the marigold bridge with the rest of the Riveras, before switching to Miguel singing it onscreen for his family following such.
  • In the prologue of Frozen II, Iduna sings a lullaby, "All Is Found", to the princesses. The song continues as the movie's title appears and transitions to the present day.
  • Done to a horrible effect in Grave of the Fireflies. After Setsuko's death, Seita walks by a family who has just returned home to find all their belongings still intact, including their phonograph. They then switch it on to play Amelita Galli-Curci's Home Sweet Home, which becomes the Background Music for Setsuko's Really Dead Montage and eventual cremation.
  • The final scene in The Grinch (2018), where the Grinch goes to the Whos' Christmas party, starts with the intro to "The Christmas Song" by Nat King Cole playing in the background, then shifts to it playing over the radio inside the house. Doesn't count as Left the Background Music On because it clearly, abruptly goes from sounding like background music to sounding like it's playing on a radio (and through a closed door, at first).
  • In Kiki's Delivery Service, during Kiki's first flight away from home, there's no music until Kiki asks Jiji to switch on the radio she brought with her. When he does, the film's main opening theme ("A Message Left in Lipstick" in Japanese, "Soaring" in the initial Disney dub) kicks in over the opening titles non-diegetically. Later, it fades back to diegetic once Kiki turns the radio off again.
  • "Bella Notte" from Lady and the Tramp starts off being sung by Tony and Joe, then switches to an offscreen chorus when Lady and Tramp have their walk through the park together.
  • Mulan:
    • The ending song starts out being performed by Mushu and the Fa family ancestors, but then segues into the film's closing credits as soon as the lyrics begin.
    • "I'll Make a Man Out Of You". The first verse is diegetic, and becomes non-diegetic for the rest of the song, save for a couple of lines ("You're unsuited for / the rage of war / so pack up, go home, you're through") that Shang says directly to Mulan.
  • "When You Wish Upon A Star" from Pinocchio starts out playing over the movie's opening credits, then switches to Jiminy Cricket singing the song when he shows up.
  • Sayuri's recital in The Place Promised in Our Early Days starts off as just her playing in the classroom, but shifts to the full version of her theme tune after the first verse.
  • Pokémon 2000 does this in the English version with the Guardian's song.
  • Ratatouille: "Le Festin" playing over the finale. As the camera pans over the line outside the new restaurant, you can see a woman singing the song to her boyfriend.
  • "Sun Do Shine (reprise)" from Rock-A-Doodle.
  • Shrek 2 does this near the climax. The Fairy Godmother sings "Holding Out for a Hero" at the grand ball to celebrate Princess Fiona's wedding. Then the camera cuts to Shrek, Donkey, and Puss in Boots Storming the Castle, with the song continuing to play as background music. The point of view switches back and forth for the entire duration of the song.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie: Mario's alarm clock plays "Mr. Blue Sky" by the Electric Light Orchestra at the end of the movie when he and Luigi get ready to come out of their house and get working in the Mushroom Kingdom, which they have moved to; after they make their exit, the music switches to playing in the background.
  • Tangled's "I See the Light" inverts it starting out as the internal thoughts of Rapunzel and Flynn before leading into a duet between the two for the last verse.
  • The songs "You'll Be In My Heart" and "On My Way" from their respective films Tarzan and Brother Bear both start out being sung by one of the film's main characters, but when the chorus starts, it moves into the background and is now sung by an offscreen singer (though the latter switches back for the final line). Curiously enough, both films had their songs written by Phil Collins.
  • In Turning Red, the Panda Hustle version of U Know What's Up switches from non-diegetic to diegetic when it is shown playing on a boombox and Mei and her friends sing it and dance to it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the 2019 documentary Apollo 11, which recounts the 1969 moon mission using contemporary footage and sound recordings, the return journey is presented as a Time-Compression Montage. The montage is introduced with footage shot by the astronauts of their tape recorder floating in microgravity and playing a mixtape they brought with them, which transitions to a less crackly non-diegetic version of the song which plays over the montage. At the end of the montage, it transitions back to the tape recorder footage and diegetic music.
  • In Atlantic City, sometimes the opera music is coming from Sally's tape player, and sometimes it's playing over the soundtrack, like when she leaves her apartment to dash off to class.
  • Happens twice in The Cable Guy. While dueling with Matthew Broderick at Medieval Times, the Cable Guy references a Star Trek episode and begins humming the soundtrack. The film's soundtrack quickly picks it up. Later, the Cable Guy sticks Owen Wilson's mouth over a hand dryer, says he looks like Dizzy Gillespie, and starts singing "Salt Peanuts", causing the actual song to start playing on the soundtrack.
  • Casablanca: In the scene where Rick drunkenly demands that Sam play "As Time Goes By," Sam starts to play and sing the song; as Rick slides into a reverie, Sam's singing blends into a non-diegetic version of the song's theme, which then blends into other score music.
  • At the end of Clerks II, the song "Misery" by Soul Asylum is actually played from a stereo from off camera and only switches to non-diegetic once the credits kick in.
  • In Corvette Summer, Kenny hitchhikes with a girl who's listening to the background music on headphones.
  • Dark Shadows (2012 film): The restoration of Collinwood and the family business is accompanied by a "Top of the World" soundtrack by the Carpenters. The scene eventually switches to a Collinwood TV set showing Karen Carpenter performing the song. Aghast, Barnabas attacks the TV, crying out, "Reveal yourself, tiny songstress!"
    • Played with in an earlier scene, when Barnabas, monologuing about his past, lays his arms on a '70s home organ, which plays a moody chord with inappropriately bouncy auto-accompaniment. Subsequent gestures generate ScareChords and other out-of-place sounds, until Elizabeth finally switches it off.
  • In Deadpool, "Careless Whisper" fades over from Wade's phone to the soundtrack in the final moments of the film.
  • Inverted in Drive (2011). Ryan Gosling exits his apartment after finishing work on a car part, and he notices Irene sitting outside her apartment. The narrative music switches to music being played inside Irene's apartment, muffled from being behind a closed door.
  • The Welsh lullaby in Empire of the Sun goes from being sung by Christian Bale's character to playing with choral backup after the character has stopped singing.
  • "That's How You Know" in Enchanted probably counts: The musical accompaniment starts as being just a couple of street musicians, but quickly expands to a full orchestra without one actually being present.
  • Evil Aliens has one of the characters climbing into a combine harvester and finding a tape of "Motivational Farming Music" in a cheap boombox on the seat, leading to a slightly tinny rendition of The Wurzels. Once the song hits the chorus, it fades up from the tape into full-blown background music (although we still see the character singing along). It doesn't end well (very much NSFW).
  • Grosse Pointe Blank goes from diegetic to nondiegetic and back again. Martin Blank's car radio is playing the sentimental beginning of "Live and Let Die" (the Paul McCartney song from the movie) as he pulls up to his childhood home. Stopping the car, he looks up and sees in shock that the house has been turned into a convenience store. The background music blasts Axl Rose's screaming metal version of "Live and Let Die". As Martin wanders into the store, the metal BGM is replaced with the store's Muzak version of the same song.
  • A scene in A Hard Day's Night has the Beatles playing cards in an isolated part of the train while schoolgirls watch them. "I Should Have Known Better" begins to play, and as the singing is heard, Paul starts lip-synching. Next thing you see are the Beatles already playing with their instruments to the rest of the song until their card game's over.
  • The seventh Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, does this rather well, actually. While Harry and Hermione dance, the radio music in-scene slowly drifts into background music.
  • In the original Highlander Movie, Kurgan sings a very bad rendition of Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York", which then segues into a Queen version of the song. (For the record, there is no full Queen version of the song. The Highlander snippet is all that's known to exist.)
  • Another case where it switches back and forth: while on a job, cat burglar Hudson Hawk and his partner Tommy time things not with watches, but by singing a song of a given duration. So while Bruce Willis and the other guy are onscreen, they're singing "Swinging on a Star", but each time the camera cuts away — like to the security guard's booth — we hear the "current" snippet of Bing Crosby's recording.
  • The 2002 adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest opens with Algernon playing the movie's theme tune on a piano, which quickly flows into a full orchestra playing the same theme as the background to a chase scene.
  • In Interview with the Vampire, Lestat turns on the radio at the end to start the end credits music. Naturally, it's "Sympathy for the Devil".
  • Jumpin' Jack Flash. Terri trying to make sense of Mick Jagger's lyrics leads to the inevitable Time-Compression Montage to the music of "Jumpin' Jack Flash".
  • Just the Way You Are: A few seconds into Susan's first European recital, the scene changes to her walking down the street while her music plays in the background.
  • In John Woo's The Killer (1989), Jenny's song from near the beginning of the movie is played on the soundtrack in instrumental several scenes later when Ah Jong saves the blinded Jenny from the muggers and he's telling her about how not everyone is untrustworthy. It plays again for Inspector Li after he is taken off the case, signifying that he's come to care about Jenny as well.
  • The first song during the closing credits of Kingsman: The Secret Service suddenly switched to an in-universe version coming from a radio at Eggsy's pub during The Stinger.
  • Last Action Hero may have lampshaded this. Slater interrupts a conversation to notice the background music on the radio. (Bringing closure to one of the movie's running gags, it's Mozart.) It hits crescendo at the following scene change.
    • Even better, the hard rock playing during one of the chase scenes is coming from Slater's tape deck — and he changes the tape mid-chase!
  • Played with in Lolita (1997). Clare Quilty continues to move through his house after Humbert shoots him, at one point sitting down at a piano and pounding away on the keys. Humbert shoots him again, with the music continuing as Quilty flees down the corridor. Then we see that the piano is playing itself.
  • Happens several times in Love Actually, most notably in the scene where the Prime Minister dances to the radio.
  • In Mad Max: Fury Road, the Doof Warrior's guitar-playing blends into the soundtrack a few times.
  • In The Martian, Donna Summer's song "Hot Stuff" switches from Mark's stereo in his rover to the soundtrack.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • In Mr. Ricco, background music that plays over the end of one scene turns into music played by the band at a bar where Purvis meets up with Steele.
  • The Odd Way Home cuts from Maya performing "Blind" onstage with an acoustic guitar, to Maya and Duncan driving while a version of the song with more instruments plays in the background.
  • Reds! has this with the song "I Don't Want to Play in Your Yard", where a character is singing it and playing it on a banjo. Cue to the next scene, where it's played by an orchestra, in a different key, with a shot of Louise and Eugene walking on the beach.
  • Done in Sahara (2005) during the boat trip along the Niger river. The music goes from soundtrack, to the moored boat's radio. Later, after the heroes launch the boat again, the different tune on the radio shifts into soundtrack once more as the boat speeds away along the river.
  • Snow White & the Huntsman. When one of the eight dwarves is killed (what - there was one too many?) another dwarf sings at his funeral. Cut to Scenery Gorn as the song "Gone" is continued by Ioanna Gika as our heroes continue on their quest.
  • A variation of this in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. While trying to impress a girl, Dave (the titular apprentice and a nerd) rigs tesla coils to discharge at a cage with Dave and the girl inside. The discharges make sounds that turn out to be playing "Secrets" by OneRepublic, a song previously heard on the radio. The actual song quickly picks up in the background, not through the radio this time.
  • This happens in Star Trek II at the end of Spock's funeral, in which Scotty plays "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes, and the tune is taken up by the soundtrack as the scene cuts to an exterior of the ship and Spock's casket being fired into space.
  • Star Trek: Young Kirk fires up some Beastie Boys on his uncle's "antique" car's stereo. The music continues even after said car has fallen into a quarry.
  • Star Wars: Return of the Jedi ends with a celebratory song by the Ewoks, which blends into a glorious choral crescendo well out of the little aliens' vocal range. (At least it used to.)
  • Stranger Than Fiction has a beautiful case with "Whole Wide World". The protagonist is playing and singing it for his would-be girlfriend. When she digs it and kisses him for the first time, the audio cuts to the original Wreckless Eric version, loud and triumphant.
  • In Top Gun, Goose is playing and singing "Great Balls of Fire" and then the scene cuts to Maverick and Charlie riding a motorcycle while the Jerry Lee Lewis version plays as nondiegetic music.
  • Tough Guys. When the two ex-cons steal an armoured car, they turn on a radio in the cabin which starts playing Tuff Enuff by The Fabulous Thunderbirds. It briefly switches to non-diegetic, then back to the radio whereupon DJ mentions the crime and mocks the thieves for having stolen an empty armoured car. "Better luck next time."
  • Done to hilarious effect in Troll 2. Creedence attempts to seduce one of the boys by presumably putting a spell on his TV, which shows her walking up to his door in a seductive manner, with an over-the-top bass-heavy "sexy" song playing over her movements. The boy then opens the door to find that the music is louder, acting as a legitimate soundtrack to their dialogue. Once they enter the camper and proceed to make out, the music is quieter again, but this time muffled as if it's coming from outside the door.
  • Inverted in the opening scene of Turbo Kid: The Kid is riding on his BMX as a melodramatic 80's rock song serves as a score. Then he gets to the shed where he keeps his supplies and turns on a Walkman, which is playing the same song and picks up right where the non-diegetic version left off, albeit much louder until he fiddles with the volume. Moments later, the batteries die out, resulting in a Letting the Air out of the Band effect.
  • Voyage of the Rock Aliens: "Combine Man" plays while the aliens transport the pieces of ABCD, who has exploded from looking at Dee Dee, back to the ship, repair him, return to Earth, and drive to the beach on a tractor, where they play the end of the song. The beachgoers clap.
  • xXx has Rammstein's "Feuer Frei!" in the background of a chase scene — and when the spy runs through a doorway in an alley he's suddenly in the middle of a Rammstein concert, and guess what they're playing?
  • Inverted in Yes-Man, where the opening notes of Journey's "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" play over the opening logos, only to show that it's the lead character's ringtone.
  • One-Trick Pony: After a disastrous recording session, Jonah sits in his hotel room and begins to play "Long, Long Day" on his guitar. The song plays in the background while he goes to visit Marion and Matty.
  • In A Boy Called Po, Amy plays "Dancing with Myself" on the boombox during Po's sensory integration therapy. The scene cuts to Po and David playing with toy planes while the song continues in the background.
  • In the opening scene of Ferry Cross the Mersey, "It's Gonna Be Alright" plays in the background while Gerry And The Pacemakers get off a plane and into a car, which drives off past their Groupie Brigade. The scene then changes to the band recording the song in a studio.
  • When Time Got Louder: As Abbie drives Kayden home from school, they listen to a pop song on the radio. The song turns into background music while Abbie packs for college.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Inverted in The Aquabats! Super Show! episode "EagleClaw!" while Eaglebones sings "B-R-O" during his motorcycle ride. Upon arrival at his destination the song becomes filtered through the motorcycle's radio.
  • The A-Team, "The Big Squeeze": As the team decorates their own restaurant in an A-Team Montage, they bring in a piano, Faceman continues the background music on it, which starts again after he stops.
  • The episode "Someone to Watch Over Me" of Battlestar Galactica used this trope quite a bit, when a pianist's music would suddenly be heard underscoring other scenes.
  • Bones: in "The Goop on the Girl", Angela turns up the radio to get an annoying intern to shut up. The song playing, "Snowfall" by Ingrid Michaelson, then becomes the soundtrack for the montage of Angela sculpting the likeness of a suspect.
  • Castle:
    • A variation occurs in the episode "Home Is Where the Heart Stops". Richard Castle is humming a tune when he unexpectedly gets in a fight. His action sequence theme song follows the tune of his humming. The next scene starts with Castle (off-screen) humming the tune again.
      Beckett: Castle!
      Castle: Sorry.
    • Inverted with the song "You're In My Veins" by Andrew Belle. The song plays in the background toward the end of the Season 4 finale "Always" as Beckett resigns from the NYPD and has her Redemption in the Rain moment, leading to Castle and Beckett's Relationship Upgrade. Two seasons later, toward the end of "Smells Like Teen Spirit", Castle and Beckett dance together to this song and decide to use the song during their wedding. Which they do in "Time of Our Lives".
  • Chuck:
    • In "Chuck vs. the Best Friend", Jeff and Lester ("Jeffster") are performing a Hollywood Tone-Deaf cover of Toto's "Africa". We then see an important moment between two other characters, and suddenly instead of hearing Lester we're hearing Toto, being played as background music.
    • Done again in "Chuck vs. the Ring", in which it transitions from the Jeffster! (and backing string quartet) version of "Mr. Roboto" to a version orchestrated by the house composer, to the original Styx version, back to Jeffster.
    • Non-Jeffster example: the use of "Don't Look Back in Anger" in "Chuck vs. the Alma Mater"
    • Another non-Jeffster example: Chuck psyching Morgan up by humming The Imperial March, inspiring Morgan to join in. Cut to Morgan opening up a pair of doors, with the full Imperial March blaring in the soundtrack.
  • At the end of The Teaser of the final episode of the first season of Cleverman, the theme music is briefly played diegetically with a "cheap radio" effect added to it, before the normal title sequence with the usual theme begins.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Pyramids of Mars": The organ-playing cultist Namin is thundering away at his keys while his Mummies assemble in front of the sarcophagus to summon Sutekh. Then he gets up from the organ, and the music continues playing.
    • "Rose": During Rose's introductory montage, the background music is diegetic when she's seen at her job at a department store, played through tinny in-store speakers. The only time it isn't is at the end of the montage when the store has closed for the night.
  • Done to brilliant effect in the ER episode "Be Still My Heart", where the ER staff are having a Valentine's Day party in the reception area with Lo Fidelity All-Stars' and Pigeonhead's "Battleflag" blaring loudly from the radio. Carter goes down the back hallway to the patient rooms to check why a patient hasn't been discharged, and the music becomes muffled with distance, still diegetic. And then he gets stabbed in the back by said schizophrenic patient and left to bleed on the floor. The second the knife goes in, the music seamlessly transitions from the distant, tinny-sounding BGM to a full, clear, non-diegetic soundtrack — which is exactly as loud as the radio is back in the reception area, and Carter's cries for help are drowned out by it, letting the viewer realize that no one can hear him because they can't hear him either.
  • Happy Endings-Season 3, episode 2-Jane is helping Penny buy a car, and while they're in the waiting room, Jane believes they are being listened in on. So she turns on the radio, which plays 'I Want You Back' by the Jackson 5. The scene quickly cuts to first Max and Brad (running from a dude Max slapped-specifically so he would chase them and Brad could get in his workout for the day) and Dave and Alex on their self-sabotaged search for a house.
  • In the Helix episode "Vector", an easy listening piece goes from slightly muted, tinny Source Music played over speakers to clear Background Music while CDC team member Julia encounters and then is attacked by Peter, Patient Zero of The Virus, while showering during decontamination.
  • House has the last scene playing a song on House's iPod, then accidentally cutting to the Hava Nagila. Then, after turning off his iPod, the song returns as background music.
  • In "Adios" from Justified: City Primeval, Clement Mansell plays his cover of the song "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes for Marcus "Sweety" Sweeton before shooting him in the heart and burning down his tavern. The song continues to play as the scene cuts to Sweety's boyfriend Trennell washing dishes in his apartment across the street before catching sight of something in the mirror above the sink, then going to the window and seeing the flames and finally going outside.
  • Happens in Life on Mars, in the first episode, with the title song: it starts out on the iPod (diegetic), then we don't hear it anymore as the hero gets hit with the car and struggles to stay conscious. Then, as he drifts off, we hear bits of the track coming through (nondiegetic) until it bursts into full volume as he arrives completely in 1973 (nondiegetic). Then it goes quieter and diegetic again as he approaches his car and it's playing on 8-track. It's quietly under his conversation with the policeman by the car (still diegetic) but then goes louder and nondiegetic as he wanders off through Manchester. The last finishing quiet bits of the track continue to play nondiegetically as he enters the police station and looks around.
  • The BBC adaptation of Little Dorrit focuses on a scene between Amy Dorrit and her uncle Frederick, both of whom are missing their former life in and around the Marshalsea. Frederick is a clarinettist, and supported himself playing his instrument prior to William Dorrit's unexpected inheritance of his vast fortune. Frederick has obviously been told off for playing his beloved instrument by Fanny, who has taken it away from him on a previous occasion. He begins to play as Amy leaves the room to go and see her father. The tune he is playing swells to become the background music.
  • In "You Never Asked" from Lockwood & Co. (2023), "Party Fears Two" plays as an instrumental as Lucy and Lockwood get ready to go to the Fittes Ball. As they arrive, the vocals play loudly on the soundtrack, then as the scene shifts to them talking to each other at the party, it can be heard playing on a loudspeaker at times over the background chatter. At the end of the episode, it plays again as an instrumental as they flee from the Black Library and then enact a Fire Alarm Distraction.
  • Lost is fond of this. Three Dog Night's "Shambala" was played as Source Music (on an 8-track in the Volkswagen bus) in "Tricia Tanaka is Dead", and then it faded into an orchestral version of same as background music. They did the same with "La Mer" when Shannon sang it at the end of "Whatever the Case May Be". In "One of Us," Petula Clark's "Downtown" goes from playing on Juliet's CD player to playing non-diegetically over a montage of ensuing events. In season six's episode "Sundown" we have Claire singing "Catch a Falling Star" and then later a spooky version is played during a slo-mo sequence.
  • Mimpi Metropolitan: When Alan helps Prima entertain kids with odong-ododng, "Telur Dadar" is played from Prima's phone at first before the scene turns off all diegetic sounds and "Telur Dadar" is played like a regular soundtrack.
  • Played with in the Series 1 finale on Misfits. Three characters wear iPods in and each one is given their own backing theme.
  • Peaky Blinders: In season 6, we see Gina dancing confidently in her home, and the soundtrack plays loud, powerful jazz music. Then she falters as Tommy Shelby makes a surprise appearance, and the music changes to a much more humble and tinny version of the same song, now coming out of her diegetic 1930s radio.
  • Porridge: Inverted in Going Straight. As Fletcher finally steels himself to start an honest job for the first time in his life, the suitably dramatic overture to The Yeomen of the Guard accompanies his determined walk to his new workplace. Cut to the workplace in question, where the radio is playing the same piece.
  • In the Quantum Leap episode "Play It Again, Seymour", Sam shares a jail cell with a man who is drunkenly singing "You, You, You". When the scene changes, the singing becomes better and a backup band comes in, and it continues to play softly under the action.
  • Rome. As Julius Caesar marches on Rome, the buccinators are playing suitably somber music. Caesar (feeling the nerves from this fateful act) orders them to play something more cheerful. This music then plays over the episode credits.
  • Used a few times in Scrubs in particular in the episode "My Half Acre" when Ted and Co are airbanding to More Than a Feeling by Boston and the song becomes the soundtrack for the next few scenes.
  • Stargate:
    • Stargate Atlantis: In "Critical Mass", Teyla sings a song at a funeral while tense action packed scenes are taking place around the city. As the scene switches between locations, the song continues as background music.
    • Stargate Universe: In "Light", we hear a somber violin piece play on Dr. Rush's iPod speaker dock before the music and scene switch into a montage of the rest of the Destiny's crew bracing itself for a fiery death in the sun that the ship is plummeting into.
  • Inverted in the pilot of Star Trek: The Original Series. The landing party beams down to a planet, and we hear eerie, science-fictiony music playing. It turns out the music is coming from some vibrating blue plants, and when Spock and Pike grab them, the music is quieted.
  • Supernatural:
    • At the start of Season Six, Dean is woken up by this radio alarm playing "Beautiful Loser" by Bob Seger, which then provides the background for a Contrast Montage between his 10-Minute Retirement in suburbia and his past as a Hunter. The same thing happens in "Free To Be You And Me", but in reverse.
    • Charlie Bradbury's Establishing Character Moment in "The Girl With The Dungeons & Dragons Tattoo". She's listening to "Walking on Sunshine" on her headphones as she turns up for work. It switches to the foreground and once Charlie is out of sight in the elevator she rocks out happily to the music only to compose herself the moment the elevator doors open, with the music just heard faintly through her earphones again.
  • Too Old to Die Young: In "Volume 5: The Fool", Little Billy switches the radio station to play "Mandy" by Barry Manilow during a car chase. The song then plays during the entire scene.
  • In the Top Gear Bolivia special, Jeremy Clarkson brings along his iPod. During one driving segment, he starts up a song (ostensibly Will Young's "Grace"), which switches into full-blown background music when the view switches from inside the car to outside. (Clarkson having a crush on Will Young is an in-program joke, so this may be a little editorial humor.)
    • Something similar happens in the Vietnam special, in which James May's off-key rendition of "Little Honda" is thankfully drowned out by the Beach Boys' version of the real thing.
  • In a reverse of the trope, one episode of Twin Peaks came back from commercial (with the standard "bridging" music), which was then playing on the car stereo that the next scene faded in on.
  • In one episode of Waterloo Road, the opening act of the school Talent Contest is a male student performing a cover of "Wonderwall". When it cuts to a montage of the other contestants, the song switches to the Oasis version and keeps playing for the rest of the montage.
  • In the last act of the The West Wing episode "Commencement", the song "Angel" by Massive Attack is playing at the party where the main action takes place, and continues to play uninterrupted over inter-spliced scenes set in other locations where other characters are engaging in their own still-unsolved plot threads (Donna and Amy arguing, Leo meeting with the Joint Chiefs, CJ and Danny picking apart a story, etc.) while the main plot/cliffhanger is set up. The alignment of specific lyrics with specific scenes is chosen symbolically.
  • "Hold On I'm Coming" by Sam & Dave in the pilot episode of White Collar. It starts out playing on a cassette in the truck the protagonist steals after escaping from prison, then gets taken up by the soundtrack after the camera cuts to an exterior shot of the truck.
  • The Wire, as a rule, only uses Source Music, with the exemption of the montages in the season finales. However, there is an occasion in the second season where music from a radio is overlaid across several scenes.
  • Yellowjackets:
    • In the first season finale The Offspring's "Come Out and Play" blares triumphantly on the soundtrack as the Yellowjackets make their Team Power Walk into their high school reunion. Toward the end, their majesty is undercut when the song transforms into tinny diegetic music playing over the party speakers.
    • In "Burial" the adult Yellowjackets are dancing under falling snowflakes to Live's "Lightning Crashes" and the action cuts to 25 years earlier teenage Misty somehow humming along with the song, triggering Shauna's Rage Breaking Point. The fact that the song is about a woman dying while another gives birth in a reference to reincarnation (and Shauna almost bled to death after a Tragic Stillbirth) probably doesn't help.

  • Fastball's "The Way" starts with a series of radio snippets, eventually reaching the lyrics. After the first few lines, the radio effects drop and the song switches to the music proper.
  • Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity" begins as if the song were playing on a record player. The only instrument playing at first was a piano before the transition added in the rest of the band.
  • On Orbital's Orbital 2 album, the beginning of "Planet of the Shapes" has the song playing diegetically on a vinyl record player in the background, complete with crackling sound effects. Then at the end, there's a Record Needle Scratch as it segues into "Lush 3.1", which is also briefly heard diegetically.
  • The song "There is Nothing I can Do" by all-girl band The Organ begins with a muffled bassline and drumbeat that grows a bit clearer as the "protagonist" opens a door and enters the room — then turns into the song's own bassline.
  • Pink Floyd:
    • The intro to "Wish You Were Here" was produced so as to make it sound like Dave Gilmour was playing along with a radio. (They even included a subtle heterodyne pitch-wavering in the background, as if the station had bad reception.)
    • "Have A Cigar" inverts this trope. At the end, the guitar solo (after a big whoosh) starts sounding like it's being played over a radio, which then transitions into... "Wish You Were Here", by way of... radio tuning noises.
  • You Am I's "Good Mornin'" is quiet and tinny for the first 20 seconds, as if it's being played on a clock radio.
  • The opening to Eminem's "Stan" gives the impression of Stan listening to the radio playing Dido's "Thank You" while the rain beats down outside, before the bassline kicks in and the soundscape fills out, and Stan begins rapping. The music video casts Dido as Stan's girlfriend, and has her singing the initial hook to herself while sitting on the toilet.

    Music Videos 
  • The video for "19-2000" by Gorillaz begins with this.
  • The video for "Queen of Hearts" by Fucked Up has this, played on a boombox before switching.
  • The video for "Mushaboom" by Feist starts out with Feist casually singing along to a recording of the song itself while waking up and making her breakfast - it transitions into the non-diegetic version when the video becomes a more traditionally music-video style fantasy sequence.
  • The video for Sunset Strippers - Falling Stars starts with a guy listening to the song on his MP3 player, before switching to non-diegetic form.

  • The Cat and the Fiddle has several instances of this:
    • As the scene of Shirley and Victor's piano duel fades out, the orchestral scene change music that follows (and repeats in the entr'acte) is based on snippets of Victor's fugue and Shirley's novelty piece.
    • In the second act, after Odette has convinced Victor more than ever that Shirley has been unfaithful to him, he hears Shirley playing one of her American pieces on the piano. The orchestra takes over this tune (which Alec and Angie danced to near the end of the first act) without interruption as the Dream Ballet ensues.
  • City of Angels does this several times with Jimmy Powers singing (in person, on radio or phonograph) or Del Da Costa composing movie music at the piano.
  • The Music Man has a variant: "If You Don't Mind My Saying So" and the following number "Goodnight My Someone" both begin with Marian (and, in the first case, Mrs. Paroo) singing only over Amaryllis's piano practice, but the orchestra takes over the accompaniment as the songs get into their full swing.

    Video Games 
  • The background music from one of the final missions of Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War is Captain Andersen playing the Award-Bait Song "The Journey Begins" over his aircraft carrier's loudspeaker, and as such it actually sounds like it's coming through a loudspeaker for about a minute before fading into a non-diegetic version of the song.
    • Ace Combat 04 has a minor example at the end of the "Invincible Fleet" level, where the other pilots with you all begin singing their country's national anthem over the radio, with instruments coming in behind them and the radio filter over their voices fading out.
  • In Bionic Commando Rearmed, the outdoor parts and hallways of certain stages use only the filtered bass of the BGM tracks, as if they were broadcast on speakers in the main rooms.
  • The intro to Borderlands seems to invert this; the music starts off very distant and once the bus enters the scene, the music is at full volume from the inside of the bus.
  • Devil May Cry:
    • In the first mission in 3, Dante vigorously turns on his jukebox before fighting the demons that invaded his office. When the mission proper starts, the same song is now the mission music.
    • In Devil May Cry 4, during the first cutscene fight with Dante, Nero throws off his headphones when he decides it is time to get serious. The music which is heard from his headphones becomes the background music for the rest of the scene.
  • Driving into a festival site in the Forza Horizon games causes the radio music to transition from the game soundtrack to the site's numerous in-universe speakers.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Saria's Song is first heard diegetically, directing your path through the Lost Woods maze. After you learn the song on the Ocarina, it becomes permanent background music there.
  • Persona 3 plays with it a bit. The background theme in the opening cutscene (called "Burn My Dread") is first heard from Main Character's headphones, then it switches to being a full-fledged BGM for a minute, and then heard again from headphones.
  • In Rochard's Casino stage, the song "Space Debris" plays as muffled diegetic music in the maintenance corridors, becoming background music once you enter the main casino floor.
  • When you're driving a car in The Saboteur, the music on the radio starts off grainy before it shifts into a non-diegetic version of the song.
  • The opening cutscene of StarCraft: Brood War starts with DuGalle and Stukov listening to an aria on a phonograph. As the cutscene ends when the colony is overrun by the Zerg and the Battlecruiser leaves the planet, the music continues and shifts to a chorus.
  • The ending scene of To the Moon has the beeping of the rocket, actually the beep of Johnny's EKG, flatline. That flatline forms the basis of the closing musical piece.
  • The 'Warbringers: Jaina' video for World of Warcraft starts with Jaina walking on a dock, slowly singing some sort of sea shanty. Then the musical instruments and choir kicks in.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the Simpsons theatrical short The Longest Daycare, dramatic music rises when evil Baby Gerald appears to have killed Maggie's butterfly. It's revealed to be coming from the music students in the Gifted Room.
    • In "Lisa's First Word", the first flashback features Homer singing "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" as he returns home. After that scene, the instrumental of the actual song begins playing as it cuts to a montage of toddler Bart doing all sorts of mischievous things.
  • Steven Universe:
    • In the epilogue of "Change Your Mind", the Grand Finale of the original series, Steven is invited on stage at Sadie Killer and the Suspects' concert and begins a Triumphant Reprise of opening theme "We Are the Crystal Gems". The song continues non-diegetically as the corrupted Gems are shown being cured and the Diamonds head off into space, all the way to the ending with Steven and the Crystal Gems on the beach.
    • In the final episode of Steven Universe: Future, as well as the final episode of the entire series, "Being Human" begins playing before Steven gets in the car, but just before the credits Steven turns up the speakers to increase its volume.
  • Thunder Cats 2011:
    • This is often employed with Wilykit as a provider of flute music, only for a more orchestral version of her piece to begin immediately after she finishes or the camera cuts away.
    • In "Song of the Petalars" Ethereal Choir is in-universe singing by the Petalars that flows into a more expansive theme after they finish singing.


Video Example(s):



When Aya plays her phone music to Bram, the music continues as the scene transitions into the ending credits, "Kiseki".

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / DiegeticSwitch

Media sources: