Listening to sound patterns: Tony Schwartz’s Documentary Recording

KANEKO Tomotaro

American documentary recordist, commercial producer, Tony Schwartz (1923-2008) is best known for the sound producer of a controversial political advertisement, “Daisy” (1964). Since 1940s, he recorded street music, voices of his neighbors, and diverse environmental sounds in Manhattan where he lived, and edit them to produce records. The aim of this essay is to understand how he listened to acoustic environment through his microphone and how his mode of listening was formed, by discussing these works and his texts, and cultural situation in which he was placed.
It appears that his explanation about communication through electronic media in his advertisement theory evolved out of the practice of environmental sound recording. This essay therefore examines his documentary recording in detail referring to the theory, and attempts to show the importance of listening to “sound patterns” in acoustic environment for his practice. Sound pattern means sensorial qualities of sound that take on significance only after the listener has received them.

Keywords: Documentary recording, Tape recorder, Sound studies