Tony Schwartz – sounds of my city

n 1952, Tony Schwartz (born in Manhattan, 1923-died 2008) was recording New York children and untrained street musicians when, just down the place where he lived on 57th Street, he fell on a blind musician he recorded playing his unique percussion instrument on a background of street noises (see tr.#5 above). This was the first time someone would record Moondog. Schwartz was collecting everyday sounds from his neighbourhood since 1945 and producing a weekly program on WNYC called Around New York (1945-1976). First he had used a Webster WEBCOR wire recorder from 1945 to 1947, when he was finally able to get a battery-operated Magnemite tape recorder, allowing to record anything on the way to work or back from a late diner. Back at his home-studio he would select the best excerpts from the day’s harvest, label them and store them for future re-use, building one of the largest sound library in the US (incidentally, French composer Pierre Henry uses exactly the same technique).

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