(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Character study - Diego Stocco

Experimental music? The term is all too easily applied to "difficult listening" music or music that merely seems strange. Musician and sound designer Diego Stocco is literally creating experimental music, almost adhering to the scientific method. He looks at the world around himself and sees opportunities for interesting sound. He constructs instruments and experiments to see what kind of sounds he can capture. Then he takes those sounds to build musical statements that vary from delicate to thunderous.

It was chance that I came across Stocco's Bassoforte video. This was an instrument that he assembled using a castoff piano keyboard action, a bass guitar neck and miscellaneous other components.

Diego Stocco - Bassoforte from Diego Stocco on Vimeo.

Stocco plays the bassoforte with the keyboard, bowing the strings, and percussively striking the various components. He's multi-tracked these elements into a lumbering dinosaur of a tune. The polyrhythms lurch forward and the jangle and whine build a distant desert feel. Musically, there are elements of Robert Fripp, Pink Floyd, and Sonic Youth. The driving bass sounds somewhat Stick like.

This video was a gateway for me. Creating a Franken-instrument was noteworthy, but I was intrigued by a series of "Music from" videos. Music From a Bonsai? This was an experiment he came up with after making Music From a Tree. It's unsurprising that the music is percussive, but there's a richness of sonic components that come from bowing and plucking. When Stocco started playing the bonsai leaf, I had to laugh and nod in admiration. In his write up, he mentioned his technique of finding the lowest pitch note to select the key for the piece.

In addition to his curious approach to finding musical sounds and using them, Diego Stocco applies this to his work. He designs musical sounds for film, TV, and video games. It's deeply satisfying to see his "Experibass" and then find out that he used it to contribute to the score of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes.

Stocco seems to tap into the musical potentiality of the world around him. More importantly, he's able to actualize this into something useful and interesting. In that spirit, I'll think back to an earlier batch of ginger cherry beer I homebrewed years ago that was eventually brewed commercially by Pikes Peak Brewing. Salud!

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