Plant-Powered Music: There is Rhythm in Everything

Diego Stocco turns organic elements into instruments and discovers melody in our daily soundscapes.

Diego Stocco isn’t your typical Los Angeles sound designer, composer and performer. Rather, Stocco is an Explorer of Sounds. Stocco’s exploration started at a young age. Raised in the countryside, Stocco remembers spending his childhood with grandpa, naming different noises and sounds. Some were utilitarian and helped keep little Stocco safe in his environment—such as the sound of a snake or other predatory animal. Other sounds were more mystical and simply honored the sacred aspects of nature, like the sound of wind blowing through the trees and birds singing to each other. This attention to detail followed Stocco into adulthood and informed his career in music and sound design. He uses many aspects of nature in much of the work he does, combining organic elements with instruments and mapping the sounds he discovers. Anyone can discover these sounds, Stocco explains. Much like mindfulness, it simply requires paying attention—whether that be to the rustle of beans jostling in a basket or the percussive pop of popcorn. “Typically, when we approach something, we look at the surface,” Stocco said. “We look at something for its immediate properties and then we move on, dismissing whatever else is there. But if you pay closer attention, you will discover a new world.” Sounds a lot like the foundation of a great meditation practice, no?

Get Closer Enough to Hear

In yoga, we often think of going upside down as a way to flip perspectives, but for Stocco, perspective is gained not by stepping back or inverting, but instead by getting closer. “It is taking the time to get close enough to hear and see something new and determine if there are ways to make it bigger. But even still,” he says, “the most important part is first discovering that it’s there.” This detailed excavation process determines the difference between what is simply background noise and what is meaningful sound. “There are things that are pure noise, but they are very few,” Stocco says. “If you really pay attention enough, you can hear a sense of rhythm or tonality or sound in everything.” This tonality and rhythm can shift in meaning and purpose. It all depends on what one feels in that moment. “It is a connection of the inner state with the outer state. Both are always changing,” he says. But above all else, Stocco loves this approach to sound because he is able to express the richness of life through music. “Music is a metaphor for life,” he says. “Just like in life, a piece of music can have parts that are very romantic, powerful, angry and sad. We would not be able to tell sadness from happiness if we did not experience both. So as musicians, we are guiding the listener through a process of hearing and noticing many different emotions in a short amount of time. It is like living a little life.”Kashi enlisted the help of nature composer Diego Stocco to make a song using the ingredients in their new GOLEAN® cereal. The video above is a behind-the-scenes look at how he made it happen. Visit Kashi.com/GOTOGETHER to learn more. Diego Stocco has also recently released an album of 14 of nature-based compositions called Sonic Nature. Listen here.