Blog post: Here soon - the London Sound Survey vinyl LP
A vinyl LP featuring 25 recordings from the London Sound Survey’s virtual vaults is due to be released in the next few weeks. My friend Nick Hamilton has been the driving force behind this and it’ll be the first release on his new Vittelli label. The tracks are now being mastered by Graham Lambkin.
Blog post: Crossing the Thames at Woolwich
Some years ago there was meant to have been an attempt by an estate agent to rename Battersea as South Chelsea. People like that need strangling, but this is probably an apocryphal tale along the lines of Streatham being passed off as St Reatham. If it was true, it would be the second instance of a district with a single root name being split in two by the Thames. The other is Woolwich.
New recording: Fountain Regents Park
Where: The Broadwalk, Regent's Park. Description: Close-up recording of a fountain, indistinct voices of adults and a child heard in the background. Recordist: Jonathan Prior. Duration: 3:00
New recording: Hungerford Bridge 2
Where: On the Hungerford footbridge, central London. Description: Cries of gulls, footsteps, sounds of trains passing over the rail bridge to and from Charing Cross station, a child's voice. Recordist: Jonathan Prior. Duration: 5:05.
New recording: Corams Fields from Mecklenburgh Square
Where: Mecklenburgh Square, Bloomsbury, central London. Description: Faint voices and laughter, birdsong, distant traffic and airplane drone, footsteps of passersby, a taxi comes to a halt nearby and its engine idles. Recordist: Jonathan Prior. Duration: 6:30.
New historical recording: West End buskers 1947
Description: Four short recordings featuring buskers playing a variety of instruments, including accordion, home-made xylophone and mouth organ. Duration: 3:24.
New historical recordings: Petticoat Lane market 1941
Description: Fast-talking market traders' voices, a street singer belts out a medley of patriotic songs. Duration: 2:41, 0:57 and 2:43.
New historical recordings: Festival of Britain 1951
Description: Exhibits at Eccentrics' Corner, Buddicom steam engine, children pass through a turnstile. Duration: 1:10, 1:17 and 2:14.
New historical recordings: Coronation Eve 1937
Description: Park keepers call to clear out Kensington Gardens for the night, souvenir sellers and crowd sounds at Admiralty Arch. Duration: 0:56 and 0:43.
Blog post: Site update - Flash-only audio player for now
The recent update to Flash player version 11.6.602.171 has clobbered this site’s HTML5/Flash hybrid audio players in Google Chrome. They just won’t work now. This is a nuisance because various estimates of worldwide desktop browser usage put Chrome at number one. Therefore I’ve switched the players on the London Sound Survey back to their original Flash-only type.
New recording: Busker under Hungerford Bridge
Where: Hungerford Bridge, central London. Description: A busker sings to a backing track under Hungerford Bridge. Loud sound of trains passing overhead, voices of passersby. Recordist: Jonathan Prior. Duration: 5:40.
New recording: Cartwright Gardens
Where: Cartwright Gardens, Bloomsbury. Description: Aircraft drone, birdsong, sounds of a tennis match in progress close by, traffic. Recordist: Jonathan Prior. Duration: 7:00.
New recording: Boating lake Regents Park
Where: Regents Park, central London. Description: Ambient recording of the boating lake in Regents Park from a footbridge. Recordist: Jonathan Prior. Duration: 4:00.
Blog post: Politics and the limits of field recording
For a summary of the recent In The Field symposium in London on field recording, have a look at the one on the Some Landscapes blog. One unexpected turn was a brief foray into a holism-versus-reductionism argument. It was the first time I’d come across that in relation to field recording, phonography – whatever you want to call it.
Blog post: Sounds of disaster in peacetime London
As society becomes wealthier and better organised, so the sounds of the urban environment grow less varied and dramatic. This mostly reflects developments for which we ought to be grateful.
New recording: Dulcimer busker Portobello Road
Where: Junction of Elgin Crescent and Portobello Road, west London. Description: A man plays a dulcimer mounted on a portable stand. Faint sounds of voices of onlookers and passersby, a car sounds its horn. Recordist: IM Rawes. Duration: 2:25.
New recording: Antiques arcade Portobello Road
Where: Portobello Road, west London. Description: The recording starts and ends with the bustle of the street outside. In between are the voices of the traders and their customers, and a man tries out a violin before deciding whether to buy it. Recordist: IM Rawes. Duration: 2:40.
New recording: Tower Bridge old machine room
Where: Inside Tower Bridge. Description: Recording of a stationary steam engine once used to raise Tower Bridge, allowing tall ships to pass through. Recordist: IM Rawes. Duration: 1:00.
New recording: Tower Bridge bascule chamber
Where: Inside Tower Bridge. Description: Echoing sounds of traffic passing on the road surface above, water drips onto a tarpaulin, constant hum from a pump motor. Recordist: IM Rawes. Duration: 1:00.
New blog post: Reverberation and authority
THE GREAT AND Powerful Oz manipulated his voice to give it the authority of reverberation. Oz set the tone for disembodied beings in series like Star Trek and its British derivative Space: 1999. The reverb voice is ideal for telling viewers you’ve slumbered for thousands of our years but can now feel again and live again, before getting the hots for a crew member.
Holocene sound project addition: Reconstructing the Holocene climate
Climate research is resolving the prehistoric Holocene trends of rainfall and temperature to millennia and individual centuries.
New recording: Smithfield meat auction
Where: Off Farringdon Street, Smithfield. Description: A crowd jostles and shouts outside Hart's the butcher during the Christmas Eve meat auction. Recordist: IM Rawes. Duration: 4:30.
New recording: Bar Italia Soho
Where: Dean Street, Soho. Description: Atmosphere inside Bar Italia, one of the last old-school Italian coffee bars left in the West End. Voices of staff and customers, the radio plays in the background, continuous faint hiss from the espresso machine. Recordist: IM Rawes. Duration: 3:20.
New recording: Steel drum busker
Where: Hungerford footbridge, central London. Description: On the Hungerford footbridge, a man plays Sleigh Ride on a shallow steel drum. Recordist: IM Rawes. Duration: 1:10.
Blog post: London on Christmas Eve
London's at its best between Christmas and New Year. The streets are quieter and that pleasantly slow-moving melancholic mood you get when you’re hungover pervades everything.
New recording: Rollerskating santas
Where: Piccadilly Circus, central London. Description: Around 150–200 people rollerskate along the road through Piccadilly Circus in Santa costumes. Recordist: IM Rawes. Duration: 2:30.
New recording: Bongo busker Oxford Street
Where: Oxford Street near Oxford Circus, central London. Description: A man crouches on the pavement and plays a single bongo drum. Recordist: IM Rawes. Duration: 1:35.
New recording: Winter Wonderland Hyde Park
Where: Middle of Hyde Park, central London. Description: A clattering fairground ride whisks people along a convoluted track high above Hyde Park. Recordist: IM Rawes. Duration: 1:00.
New historical recording: Lavender seller 1938
Description: The song of lavender seller recorded in an auditorium. Duration: 1:35.
New historical recording: Battle of Britain 1940
Description: A group of people witness part of the Battle of Britain from Sussex. They talk excitedly against a backdrop of distant gunfire and droning engines. Duration: 3:42.
New historical recording: Women evacuees 1940
Description: Two women, interviewed by Olive Shapley, describe the personal cost of the bombing raids on London. Duration: 1:13.
Holocene sound project addition: Central England temperature estimates from pollen analysis
New graphic integrating the 'traditional' view of climate stages and changing vegetation with Central England temperature proxies for winter and summer obtained from pollen remains.
Blog post: Beware the Cat - auditory overload in the 16th century
'Beware the Cat' is a short novel written in 1552 by William Baldwin, a poet and printer’s assistant who lived in London.
Blog post: Jez riley French in Soho
Last Friday in Dean Street, Soho, there was an Association of Motion Picture Sound talk given by Jez riley French. Pretty much anyone with an interest in field recording must have heard of him, and quite a few will own one of the hydrophones or contact mics which he makes and sells at very affordable prices.
New recording: Running water Victoria tube station
Where: District and Circle Line platforms, Victoria. Description: The sound of running water emanates from beneath an iron grille set between the tracks at the east end of platforms. Could it be the Westbourne passing underneath? Voices of passengers, a train approaches. Recordist: IM Rawes. Duration: 1:30.
New recording: St Pauls protest camp 2011
Where: By the steps of St Pauls Cathedral. Description: Recorded while walking around the perimeter and inside the St Pauls anti-capitalist protest camp. Voices of passersby and camp visitors, a man plays the guitar briefly, a woman sings to piano accompaniment. Recordist: IM Rawes. Duration: 2:20.
Historical reference: A magical sense of hearing in William Baldwin's 'Beware the Cat'
When: 1552. Title of work: Beware the Cat. Author: William Baldwin. Category: Ambient - General sounds of street and town.
New recording: Waterloo station at night
Where: Waterloo station concourse. Description: Sounds recorded while walking north across the station concourse. The station is busy with people going out for the night and heading home. Recordist: IM Rawes. Duration: 2:00.
New recording: National Front Cenotaph march
Where: Whitehall, central London. Description: Members of the far-right National Front march from the Cenotaph along Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday. Contains swearing. Recordist: 2:28. Recordist: IM Rawes.
Blog post: Make Sound Here - a new collaborative sound map
If you've felt the urge recently to rattle a stick along a row of railings or tap some bit of metal street furniture to hear what noise it makes, then make your way to James Saunders’s Make Sound Here sound map.