Diego Stocco On Making Music From Breakfast Cereal

In the last few years, Diego Stocco has established himself as the MacGyver of sound design – able to create interesting sounds and music from just about anything.

He’s set pianos on fire, he’s made music from a bonsai tree, he’s done beat making with the sounds of a dry cleaner and he’s even used a squirrel as a reverb.

For his latest project, Kashi hired him to score a commercial – using breakfast cereal.

“The idea was to use different kinds of cereals in a musical way,” explains Stocco, “so I created a set of custom instruments that would interact with the cereals, their movement and their sound.”

“I built a cereal-based drum kit, shakers, the Cereal Cello, a Yellow Peas Slide and other things,” he adds.  “I also manipulated the sound of cereals through various synthesis methods in order to create tonal elements for the melody, bass and harmony parts.”

Here’s a short behind-the-scenes look at his process:

Stocco also shared a short video via Instragram, demonstrating how he created a melodic line from cereal, using Omnisphere:

The short video demonstrates three essential stages of his methodology:

  • sonic exploration – taking the time to explore the sounds available to you and to record them in creative ways;
  • sound design – working with the source material to shape the sounds and explore their possibilities; and
  • performance – arranging and performing with the resulting sounds to reveal their musical potential.

21 thoughts on “Diego Stocco On Making Music From Breakfast Cereal

  1. some of it is kinda cheating – like the basket is a basket sound with cereal in it – like if you played a guitar by pouring cereal on it would that be cereal sound or guitar sounds…….

    1. So..a guitar in itself is based on cheating, because the resonant body is altering the sound of the strings?
      And the fact that a human touches those strings is cheating because a “real” instrument would make sound by itself, without human interaction?

      Please take a moment to read the description of the project again:
      “…so I created a set of custom instruments that would interact with the cereals, their movement and their sound.” Focus on the work Interaction. It’s clearly stated what I did here, I’m not hiding the fact that there’s an interaction between the cereals and other objects.

      To answer your question: pouring cereals over a guitar would create a hybrid timbre, which is what I did with the Cereal Cello. I customized a cello so that I can excite the strings by pouring cereals on top of them.

  2. Maybe it is all just one big cheat, is it not all just apparatus dynamics and the modulation of noise? Pick a frequency any frequency… but not that one.

    It is nothing too special, but he is very good at doing that not so special thing.

    1. Have you ever wondered why it’s called sound design? Because the whole point of it is to design sounds, to creative manipulate them into whatever your imagination and taste want.

      This organic approach in creating sounds out of natural elements it’s something that I’ve been working on for years, in some works the resulting sound is closer to the source , in others the original source is just the point of origin. In both cases, it’s a creative use of sound.

      Cheating is when something is described in a certain way but actually done in another. I clearly stated how the ingredients are used in this project: “..so I created a set of custom instruments that would interact with the cereals, their movement and their sound.” That’s exactly what’s happening here, these ingredients don’t move by themselves, I have to touch them and use them in many different ways to create something that can be heard.

      Also, and this is something that you’re completely missing, the amount of sound engineering work behind something like this is a challenge in itself. Everything in music is about frequencies, but knowing how to record them and selectively organize them is something that take experience.

      Anyway, it’s always easy to be judgmental with somebody else’s work, especially from a comments section. You should try developing something original on your own, and do that professionally and consistently for almost 20 years, I guarantee it will change your state of mind to a more open and appreciative one.

          1. It’s not a negative light.

            You present these videos like you are breaking all sorts of new ground by recording/sampling natural or found sounds then manipulating them. This is as old as recorded sound and nothing new. Most of the effetcs pedals we use and software derived from them, are based upon tape manipulation or recording manipulation of sound use tape loops, room sound, physical pressure on feed reels, etc. Sampling was created to make this easier.

            When someone comments on that, you get defensive and turn to the “you just don’t understand” comments or go on about how much more you know about sound design, recording, mikes, etc.

            We get it. You are a process oriented person and love the technicality of messing around with sound at it’s base components. That’s cool. I have lots of modular friends that build horribly complex, 40 plus module patches of self-modulating, randomly evolving ghost/wind/whale echo sounds. They love the process. But they understand that for what it is, and that they are not really breaking new ground.

            The end results of such are generally similar to something that can be accomplished in a much simpler way by a results oriented person, and they will typically comment as such to your videos or comments.

            You open yourself to all criticism by making and posting videos. While much of your process is interesting, it isn’t particularly groundbreaking and defending it as such, while being dismissive of people who just, obviously, have a different opinion,
            IS pretentious.

            1. Music is simply tuned rhythmic noise, and there are many ways to create it.

              Diego creates music in a somewhat unusual way. His videos showcase how he does it, which can be extremely helpful. I’m not sure why you feel the urge to criticize him so strongly. If you don’t like his approach or his videos, don’t watch them. I’m sure there will be something — perhaps a Berlin School composition or symphonic modular noodling — posted in the next few days that will appeal to your personal aesthetic.

              1. I’m not criticizing how he makes his music or even the end sound. Everyone does that however they like.

                I’m criticizing his shit attitude towards other posters above, with regard to saying that the don’t have the experience, knowledge, time, etc to understand his work.

                Do you guys even read?

            2. Diego is one bad ass. I love his unique sound sources, his ideas, his approach, his attitude, his organic sound! If some don’t like it *cough, you know who you are, cough* get off your dead ass and show us what you got. You’re just jealous because Diego is running laps around you.

        1. caligari

          Please keep comments constructive and on topic.

          If there’s something else you’d like to see Stocco demoing – let him know, because that’s constructive feedback.

          If there’s something else you’d rather see us featuring on the site, thouh, let us know. There’s a feedback link at the top of every single page of the site.

  3. I appreciate his explorative approach…using modern tools but more organic sound sources. It’s easy/lazy for me to rely (solely) on great tools like Serum, Massive, etc. and forget that I can create something that is uniquely me by exploring sound design in this way.

    I’m inspired…

    1. Hi Wooo, I see what you mean and I appreciate your kind note : )
      I don’t have a problem if someone doesn’t like my work.. I don’t need to try to change their mind.
      The problem is when someone misunderstands what’s going on and call it cheating.

      I always try to explain as much as I can for the benefit of those who enjoy my work and I would prefer to see a constructive dialogue on Synthtopia, but once in a while, when the comments make no sense to me, I feel it’s worth to say something.

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