Is it sound design, or is it composition?

Is it musicianship, or is it technical control?

Is it live, or is it Ableton Live?


Diego Stocco is simply one of the best bleeding-edge musicians, composers, and sound designers – all in one. And that has made him rightfully in-demand in the media of technology (Spectrasonics), movies (Sherlock Holmes), TV (The Tudors), and games (Assasin’s Creed). He’s of course also a big hit around sites like this one.

Now, he’s sharing his secrets. He revealed about a week ago that he would be offering the first of his sound design courses, “Rhythmic Processing,” for US$9.99. (That’s a fairly incredible price, given Diego’s skill set – this is sort of jacking-into-the-Matrix-level learning at ten bucks.)

But it might not have been immediately clear what he was actually doing, or why it’s compositionally important. Now, he’s also sent CDM two SoundCloud tracks that walk through first the technique, and then reveal the musical results. (And if you’ve been watching TV or movies, and somehow didn’t know this was his music, you’ll recognize his signature style right away.) Take a listen:

What I like about this becoming pedagogy is that it could encourage other musicians to build their own idiomatic styles. So much of the result here taps into Diego’s playing style. It fuses traditional musicianship with electronics. But unlike in-the-box approaches, which often do tend to result in a mind-numbing sameness, working in this fashion means that a lot of the output is to do with your musical input. And that means that it won’t just be fun to watch this video series. It’ll be fun to hear the results of the people who learn from them.

And that seems to be Diego’s aim, too. In the blog post explaining the series, he talks about that hope:

I wanted to create a series of educational videos that would work as a direction to point at, and not as an absolute destination where everybody ends up at the same time with the same results. I hope you’ll enjoy the experience and feel inspired to create something unique!

Introducing Feedforward Sounds series [diegostocco.com]

Get it yourself:


  • http://www.afrodjmac.com/ AfroDJMac

    wow this is a real bargain :)

  • Xebulon

    $10 for a 10 minute video seems a bit steep to me, no matter how arcane the knowledge.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Why? From his standpoint, it’s a fairly niche area, so figure you’re not going to sell many. This means enough income to produce the things.

      Now, that said, the question is whether it’s valuable enough to you to buy, not him to make.

      I’ve watched it; Diego sent me a coupon. It’s fairly information-dense.

      So I’d rather have a really valuable 10-minute video than a less-dense hour video. That’s the value to me. And I’d say it’s $10 of information, easy. No hesitation about recommending it.

    • Xebulon

      “I’d rather have a really valuable 10-minute video than a less-dense hour video.” – Actually thats a really good point, I hate hour-long Youtube tutorials where you’re just watching them muddle their way through the DAW and “Er…. Ummm…” while they’re trying to figure something out. Makes me miss article-based tutorials, which seem to be getting scarcer.

      Any word on what techniques future videos will feature, or how many he plans to make?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      I couldn’t agree more. I think some people find it easier to shoot those awful videos than they do writing.

      In this case, at least, the medium makes sense. You need to see several things at once in the UI, and then his playing.

      Next techniques – not sure yet! Will ask.

    • DSweb2012

      Hi, exactly, I didn’t want to artificially inflate the length of the video to make it look more valuable, and there’s no Er..ummmh..wait, let me grab a glass of water, etc.. : )

      I go straight to the point of a technique that I developed after years of experiments and talk like I would talk to a medium-advanced user.

      Really glad you like this approach too Peter, thank you!

      My intention is to release only selected material, advanced techniques that hopefully will inspire a different approach in sound design.

    • http://www.sylvainpoitras.com/ Sylvain Poitras

      Great video Diego and I look forward to the rest of the series.

    • DSweb2012

      Thank you so much Sylvain!

    • Jem

      I toyally agree. So many of the these instructional vids spend 25% of their time saying “HI, I’m… this is my… I’m here at… Go to my website at….I’m using….” To the point where I just fast forward until I can see their hands moving. At least then you know they’re actually dong something useful other than bigging themselves up!! At least with TV we can now skip the ads!! 😉

    • Blob

      First of all, great work Diego. The teaser alone sold it for me! Congratulations for the insights you are sharing.

      The guitar idea is spot on.

      Also, congratulations for being precise and to the point!

      Which brings me to Xebulon’s post – I couldn’t agree with him more about those crappy youtube pseudo-tutorials.

      90% of these are horrible uninformative pieces of crap filmed by amateur would-be producers trying to attract people to their sites and whatnot. Bloody timewasters.

      I’ve mostly stopped using search engines looking for tutorials and just follow a couple of trustworthy blogs and video channels where people actually take the time to write stuff down, actually explain things in a couple of minutes, and/or point us to guys like Diego who actually know what they are doing.

      Keep up the good work, Diego!

    • DSweb2012

      Thank you so much, I’m really glad you enjoyed it.
      I love acoustic instruments as well as synths, the idea is to invite you guys to build your own processing chain on your own musical performance because that’s the first step to make it sound unique.

    • Blob

      And a fine idea it is, indeed! 😉

      This is nothing new for many people who follow CDM, but I have to say that my best work rarely comes from pre-packaged material and synth presets (although they are many times a starting point). The best results often come from mixed and unorthodox approaches such as the one you demonstrate on “Rhythmic Processing” – where the “real” world of sound meets digital processing.


  • Lebron James

    is that a DT suzuki reference in there?

  • Aaron

    I’ve got alot of respect for Diego’s sound and methods. I won’t be grabbing this up, but i bet 10 minutes of Diego going over some of his technique would be entertaining even if you don’t use any of it.

    • Aaron

      oh, and the reason I’m not is simply that I have 0 interest in doing primary work in Ableton. if it wasn’t host dependant I’d be curious enough to buy it. not a money reason, 10$ is nothing.

    • DSweb2012

      Hi Aaron, thank you so much of your comment!

      You’re bringing up a good point (which is actually mentioned in the full video), you don’t need to be using use Ableton Live if you don’t want to.
      Live is what I prefer using for this kind of real-time techniques.

      The reason why I recommend this series to a medium-advanced user is because, with a solid experience, such user can choose plugins/DAW with similar functionalities, or simply based on personal preference, and put this technique into practice.

      One of the major points of my series is actually to encourage the customization of the techniques I’m showing, so that the sounds/performances that you create will sound like you, not like me or anyone else. Other users are already creating interesting stuff on Cubase and Reaper for example.

  • http://vimeo.com/jrandom/bespoken Johnnyrandom

    The treatment of this guitar line reminds me of Audio Damage’s “Replicant” plugin. Is the full video more about signal flow and customization? Does the $10 include a complimentary cup of “Huge Coffee”? :)

    • DSweb2012

      Hi Johnny, Audio Damage’s stuff is interesting and has a unique flavor, but what’s going on in Rhythmic Processing is different. The video is all about workflow and customization, that’s the whole idea behind my series, to present you a technique that you can personalize based on your musical, performing, DAW, plugins preferences.

      Yes, coffee is on the house, but a regular one, I wouldn’t offer the Huge Coffee to anyone, the waterproof mics were melting inside the cup and I dumped a truckload of sugar in it : )

    • http://vimeo.com/jrandom/bespoken Johnnyrandom

      I’ll be sure to head over to Gumroad and check it out – When I see something like this, its like a cat seeing a paper bag. Grazie!

  • Marc

    I got the video.
    For the video being only 10min long, this is a non issue. In fact, it’s one of the best video tutorials I’ve ever seen. There is no useless babbling, it’s highly informative and straight to the point.
    I’ll say for me it’s worth the money, because I’m really into this stuff and it’s impressive what Diego does with stock ableton plugins that I never even considered because I underestimated them.
    That said, he also uses some other pretty exotic vst plugins I never heard of. I wish it was only ableton plugins, that would make it even more impressive.
    And it would also be cool if the video came with the ableton scene file.

    • DSweb2012

      Hi Marc, I’m really glad you enjoyed it, thank you.

      Live’s plugins are great and yes, there’s a lot you can do with them, but I always integrate third-party plugins in my actual workflow, and wanted to present it the way it is. Some of them might not be that popular, but they are very powerful and reasonably priced. BitterSweet from Flux is actually free and works great.

      Regarding the Live session, I strongly believe that the act of building your own session, customizing it according to your taste, based on the first element/performance that you’ll process, is a fundamental step in mastering this technique. It’s an enriching experience vs being presented with the table already made : )

      If I will release Live session they will have a different purpose, still educational if you like, but ready to be integrated into the workflow, and in that case they most likely would be based only on Live’s plugins.

  • Jaybeeg

    I’m anxiously awaiting the video series that shows us how to mic and burn a piano for maximum effect. This series is a brilliant idea for anyone looking for inspiration. $10 is cheap if it encourages me to explore a new sonic direction.

    • DSweb2012

      ah ah : ) that one will probably never happen, I’m past my piano pyromaniac stage!
      Thanks Jay, that’s exactly the concept behind the series, I hope you’ll enjoy it if you have a chance to watch it.

  • chris scheidies

    Just picked this up and WOW it is a bargain at twice the price. Really got me thinking about how to build this is Reason, GREAT stuff!

    • DSweb2012

      Thank you so much Chris, I’d love to hear how you interpret this technique in Reason!

    • chris scheidies

      Working through it now, it will certainly take some rack extensions but I would be happy to share the project file when I get it all working.

    • Tom Luth

      As a propellerhead myself, I am looking to translate these techniques to Reason as well.

  • jeroen

    Man, i can watch Diego’s stuff for hours! Love it!

  • shim

    this could not have come at a better time. IMHO rarely do you see a person so proficient in art (or any discipline) and yet so positive, giving and vehemently promoting individuality to students. these days, who risks revealing work flow “secrets” and tells you to make them your own? man, diego, you should do a werner herzog-esque boot camp.

    obviously, i can’t wait for the next video.

    i have only met one other sound designer with that kind of style: jim stout.

    real humans still inhabit LA. wtf?!

    great work peter and bravo and a huge thank you, diego!

    • DSweb2012

      Thank you very much for the kind comment and your support, it’s really encouraging! I would love at some point to create a weekend-long sound design gathering, ideally in a quiet place surrounded by nature so the focus on sound could be maximized, we’ll see how this project evolves.

  • DSweb2012

    Hey guys, quick update. I just posted a processed bass-line, I made it to show how this technique can be applied also to synths, not just acoustic instrument: https://soundcloud.com/diegostocco/ffs01-processed-synth

  • http://www.rainbug.com.br/blog Rainbug

    Just bought it and watched it. And must recommend it to anyone who wants some clear and quick (and yet deep) inspiration for music composition. Just got my brain swirling as I’m already trying to use this kind of approach in my personal music making. I’m on a project of a song a week during this year, inspired by a post I read in CDM in the beginning of the year, but wasn’t able to start with the group, so I just put in on my site (www.rainbug.com.br/blog) . In this week’s track I’m surely putting in work the concepts Diego talks about in the video. Thanks for the tip, Peter. And for the video, Diego! ;D

    • DSweb2012

      Thank you so much man, really glad you enjoyed it : )

    • http://www.rainbug.com.br/blog Rainbug

      Waiting for the next oneS! 😉

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Ah, great! I’ll be watching your project!

    • http://www.rainbug.com.br/blog Rainbug

      That would be an honor, sir! ;D

      In case you wanna check the result: http://rainbug.com.br/week-5-behind-the-mask/

  • plianathologIn

    god damn it. got the video. learned nothing. I don’t consider myself an Ableton Pro or DAW Pro, maybe I am one? I reveal you the trick party people: use sends & “FX-chains” (aka effects, because you can not not use “chains” if you put a couple of them on one channel. That is the definition of “fx-chains”, lol): filter, gate, pitch shifting, etc. Want a BD from non-BD material? Use LP-Filter, Gate, Env generator & EQs to beef up the appropriate range. You can throw couple of other plug-ins in there. That’s the magic of DAWs. Yes, exactly like you would imagine it: Use respective plug-ins for respective tasks in send’s “fx-chains”. In short: use your DAW & plug-ins. That is the fking knowledge you buy here. If you know how to use plug-ins, use them. If you don’t know: RTFM & use the plug-ins. That’s about it. After all this hypes here in comments & “jacking-into-the-Matrix-level” & “years of experience”-talk – honestly I feel tricked & I feel stupid. Bye bye my last $$. So to all the poor people: save your money & learn what audio-fx-plug-ins do & use them “in chains” for “rhythmic processing”…

    • http://www.sylvainpoitras.com/ Sylvain Poitras

      I think you missed the point… that video provided a glimpse into a composer’s approach. As such I thought it was quite valuable and it gave me some ideas I want to try.

    • http://vimeo.com/jrandom/bespoken Johnnyrandom

      Hey there…

      I don’t think there’s any “trick” involved here, nor is there any false advertising. As a professional composer and sound designer, I find Diego to be an incredibly accomplished and inspirational artist. Peter Kirn was not exaggerating when he wrote that Diego is “one of the best bleeding-edge musicians, composers, and sound designers – all in one.” He has a unique voice or fingerprint, which has been revealed (in method) within countless videos. It is very obvious that his ambition is to push the envelope and encourage like-minded individuals to develop their own voice through fearless experimentation. A quick Google search of his works and lectures only confirm this point.

      Even if you are a genius side-chain/aux-send/bus genius, you could learn something from Diego – If not this video, then maybe the next one. Or just look at how he creates instruments or samples found objects on YouTube and Vimeo. His works are damn impressive, which is why he’s on your radar to begin with. Either way, this kind of education is EXTREMELY affordable. To complain about spending 10 bucks for a tutorial from a world-class talent is “poor” in itself. So please, don’t feel “tricked” or “stupid”… You have the world at your fingertips (mostly for free). I’m sure that you could find something to learn from without making disparaging remarks about the very affordable works of talented people like Diego.

    • Tom Luth

      Yeah, clearly missed the point, and I suspect repeated viewings are not likely to help. The tutorial is NOT “use plug-ins” but an approach to use them Rhythmicly. I have a fair amount of experience, and I found it useful. Doesn’t claim to be the answer to every problem, but a useful approach. If you truly are down to your last dollar, perhaps this isn’t the video for you. I look forward to future ones.

  • DSweb2012

    Hey guys, if you’re into analog synths you might be interested in checking out how I processed an arpeggiated sequence from a MiniBrute https://soundcloud.com/diegostocco/ffs01-processed-synth-2