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Occasional posts on subjects including field recording, London history and literature, other websites worth looking at, articles in the press, and news of sound-related events.

29 September 2011

When the planes stopped flying

FIELD RECORDISTS ACROSS Europe rejoiced last year when the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted and lobbed a cubic kilometer of ash into the sky. At last we were given a brief rest from the whine of jet engines.

A propeller-driven aircraft can make an evocative sound, somehow redolent of clear summer skies. But jet airliners only produce the most banal noise.

Here’s the Wikipedia graphic showing the extent of the ash cloud. Note how it’s made to look ominous, when it would be better represented by a cheerful shade of fuchsia or sunflower yellow:

Wikipedia diagram of volcanic ash cloud extent


Among the recordists to respond was the London-based SoundClouder dashanna (a.k.a. Chris), who’s very kindly shared three recordings made in London during the volcanic hiatus.

First is a recording made at Limehouse with the bell of St Anne’s church near the beginning. There’s still plenty of traffic noise, but no aircraft racket from nearby London City Airport:


Next is Highgate Cemetery in north London:


The third recording is a mighty half-hour in length and was made in Catford in southeast London from 5am onwards. Server space costs me money so at first I balked at including the whole recording. But a half-hour recording can show changes in the dawn chorus and the general sounds of the city waking up in a way that a three-minute effort can’t.


Many thanks for sharing these with the London Sound Survey, Chris. It’s always good hearing what other people have recorded around town. If you want to share some sounds too, then visit the Survey’s SoundCloud account.

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