Nature as artistic collaborator: we’ve seen it in the performance paintings of Olly and Suzie, in the sculptural rock-stackings of Zach Pine and Andy Goldsworthy, and in the plein-air tree drawings of Tim Knowles. Now composer and sound designer Diego Stocco has partnered with a tree in his backyard to create a delightfully fun musical jam. So go ahead, boogie down with the branches.
To read Stocco’s process of creating music with the tree is to suddenly understand branches, trunks and barks as embodiments of particular tones. Stocco strapped mics to his fingers and literally played the tree: with a bow, with his knuckles, with great thwaps and wacks. He isolates each tone, beat and scratch and builds them into a unique crescendo of sounds.
What’s particularly striking is the way Stacco mics the work. At one point, he uses a stethoscope to capture a tree-tone, sealing the instrument to the mic with tubing to better isolate the sound. We hear the blurbs and thwats of the tree, clear and musically.
The resulting musical piece leaves you with that tingly bliss of playtime. Stacco plays the tree as an instrument and also plays with it, like a kid with incredibly fancy recording equipment. It serves as a gentle reminder that joy is essential to maintain in our relationship with the natural environment.