Learning Center: Sound Designer Diego Stocco

By 
Chris Fitzgerald
February 29, 2012
Photo by Blair Pershyn

Avant-garde sound designer Diego Stocco exorted Berklee students to stay passionate, stay inspired, and not worry so much about following trends, in a February forum hosted by the Learning Center. "Are you inspired by your own work, or are you feeling like there is something missing?" he asked. His advice? Always tell a story with your music, and let it always be your story.

Stocco is new school, and very hands-on, often creating his own instruments to get a unique sound. A performer, as well, he made his mark in Hans Zimmer's score to Sherlock Holmes with a solo role on his "experibass," a violin, viola, cello, and double bass hybrid, played by bow, fishing line and hose clamps, paint brush, spoon, fork, drum stick, and kick drum pedal. "My father and my brother are butchers," Stocco said, "but the thing is I really wanted to be a musician, so I combined the two things. I butcher musical instruments now."

Stocco is also known for creating music out of found sounds, whether sand, trees, dry cleaner machinery or dessert plates, and of this he says, "Sounds are like friends. If you really want to know them, you have to take the time to listen to them." He urged students to always be listening: "Have you ever paid attention to the sound of mornings compared to the sound of evenings?" Pay attention, because "you are building a library of sonic impressions that at some point you will take out and use for something." To achieve their own unique sound, he told Berklee students to "learn as much as you can from books, tutorials, teachers, classes, everything that you do. But at the same time approach the world of sounds as a baby that is seeing a microphone for the first time. . . . When you approach the world this way, there's something magic happening there."

Engaging and dynamic, Stocco cautioned against the four most common "mind traps": feeling like you have to prove something, being afraid to fail, putting off creating because of a lack of gear, and feeling like you can't make your mark on the music world because of a lack of experience or connections. His message brought home a common thread in the importance of trying new things, staying passionate, experimenting, and finding your own way to see the world. As he put it, "Do what you love. When you do something you love, you really understand it. There's something related to the passion that you put into it."

Watch videos of Stocco's work.