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General sound map

Recordings of background atmospheres and incidental noises from all over London. Some form part of a sound grid series recorded at evenly-spaced points across the city, each marking the centre of a square on the map below.

1 3 5
2 4 3 3 11
1 1 1 1 6 5 7 16 21 3 18 1 1
2 8 22 11 3 5 5 17 5 4 2 1 4 1  
3 11 4 7 9 6 25 39 21 38 8 1 5    
1 3 5 7 5 48 42 56 38 11 8 3 2
1 1 2 7 6 15 8 40 15 5 1 1 4
1 1 41 2 8 4 1 9 7 1 1
3 4 3 7 1 3 5 2  
6 1 20 6 1 3 1 1
1 1 2 1 1
1 1

Above: graphic based on a daytime satellite image courtesy of the Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center. Each red grid square is 2.5 miles or 4 kilometers across.

West Cromwell Road W14 July 2:00

Grid square: Fulham, West Brompton, Putney

Recording date: 2 July 2015

Time of day: 2.40pm

Location: West Cromwell Road outside Tesco, Kensington.

Description: Loud constant traffic on Cromwell Road, indistinct voices nearby, faint clatter of supermarket trolleys, footsteps of passersby.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Inside Earls Court station 2:54

Grid square: Fulham, West Brompton, Putney

Recording date: 11 February 2015

Time of day: 12.15pm

Location: On one of the District Line platforms inside Earls Court station, west London.

Description: Arrival and departure of District Line tube trains, a passing emergency services siren, footsteps, indistinct platform announcements.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Beckford Close W14 February 2:00

Grid square: Fulham, West Brompton, Putney

Recording date: 11 February 2015

Time of day: 1.45pm

Location: By Warren House, Beckford Close, west London.

Description: Constant traffic on Warwick Road, a family walk down Beckford Close and into Warren House flats, voices, a District Line tube train passes on the line to the west.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Earls Court Exhibition Centre takedown 5:00

Grid square: Fulham, West Brompton, Putney

Recording date: 3 December 2014

Time of day: 12.30pm

Location: Inside the main hall, Earls Court Exhibition Centre, west London.

Description: Dozens of workers dismantle the lighting rigs and tiered seating after a fashion show. Clang of scaffolding poles, faint voices, hammering, a workman begins to wrap up a pile of timber close to the recording point.

Technical guff: Baffled stereo. 2 x Sennheiser MKH 8020 mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Olympus LS14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Many thanks to Adrian Bray.

Earls Court Exhibition Centre setup 3:51

Grid square: Fulham, West Brompton, Putney

Recording date: 16 September 2014

Time of day: 11am

Location: Inside the main hall, Earls Court Exhibition Centre, west London.

Description: Carpenters and other workers assemble booths and displays for a trade show. Sounds of voices, hammering, drilling and sawing.

Technical guff: Baffled stereo. 2 x Sennheiser MKH8020 mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Olympus LS14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Many thanks to Adrian Bray.

Earls Court Exhibition Centre hall 1B 7:22

Grid square: Fulham, West Brompton, Putney

Recording date: 15 August 2014

Time of day: 10.30am

Location: Inside the main hall, Earls Court Exhibition Centre, west London.

Description: Exhibition Centre staff begin preparing for a concert to be held later in the week. Sounds of voices, a broom sweeps up debris, a man whistles, desultory activity. Occasional rumble of tube trains passing beneath the building.

Technical guff: Baffled stereo. 2 x Sennheiser MKH 8020 mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Olympus LS14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Many thanks to Adrian Bray.

Thames shore Putney 2:00

Grid square: Fulham, West Brompton, Putney

Recording date: 15 January 2012

Time of day: 4pm

Location: On the Thames shore at Putney, near Barn Elms, southwest London.

Description: Wash from passing boats curls onto the shore then subsides, a boat crew row past while their coach shouts encouragement from an accompanying motor boat, faint voices of walkers on the towpath above and behind.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Sony PCM M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

The Wandle Bell Lane Creek 1:00

Grid square: Fulham, West Brompton, Putney

Recording date: 15 January 2012

Time of day: 3.25pm

Location: Bell Lane Creek, Wandsworth, southwest London.

Description: Constant rush of water over the weir at Bell Lane Creek, a crane at work in the waste depot on the east side of the creek, a train heads towards Putney.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Sony PCM M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Beverley Brook Barn Elms 1:00

Grid square: Fulham, West Brompton, Putney

Recording date: 15 January 2012

Time of day: 4.20pm

Location: Beverley Brook by the Thames Path at Barn Elms, southwest London.

Description: Water from a pipe splashes down into Beverley Brook, voices and footsteps as walkers cross an iron footbridge.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Sony PCM M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Riverbus to Wandsworth Pier 2:23

Grid square: Fulham, West Brompton, Putney

Recording date: 17 March 2011

Time of day: 7.40am

Location: On the Thames approaching Wandsworth Pier from upstream.

Description: Loud sound of the boat's engine which dies down, something rattles on board, the boat pulls alongside Wandsworth Pier and one of the watermen calls out to people waiting there.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder. EQing in Izotope RX2.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Putney Embankment at dawn 1:28

Grid square: Fulham, West Brompton, Putney

Recording date: 17 March 2011

Time of day: 6am

Location: Putney Embankment, south-west London

Description: Traffic crossing Putney Bridge, voices of rowing crews preparing to set off, a beachcomber scrapes at gravel on the shore, aeroplane drone, a crow caws.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder. EQing and hum removal in Izotope RX2.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Fulham Broadway tube 1:00

Grid square: Fulham, West Brompton, Putney

Recording date: 23 January 2010

Time of day: Around midnight

Location: At the entrance to Fulham Broadway Underground station.

Description: Night-time revellers gather outside Fulham Broadway tube station, shouting, laughing and talking excitedly. Some have just come out of the station for a night out in Fulham, others are waiting to go elsewhere.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Atlas pub closing time 1:30

Grid square: Fulham, West Brompton, Putney

Recording date: 23 January 2010

Time of day: 11.30pm

Location: Near the Atlas pub, Seagrave Road, West Brompton.

Description: People spill out of the Atlas pub in West Brompton as it closes. Sounds of voices in the street, people hailing taxis, vehicles pass by, a lone blackbird sings in a tree.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

By the Thames at Hammersmith 1:30

Grid square: Fulham, West Brompton, Putney

Recording date: 15 August 2009

Time of day: 8.30pm

Location: Walking westwards along Lower Mall by the side of the Thames from Hammersmith Bridge.

Description: Evening drinkers congregate outside the Blue Anchor pub on Lower Mall, overlooking the Thames. Voices, laughter, traffic passing over Hammersmith Bridge.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. Sonic Studios DSM-6S/EH mics and PA-3SX preamp, Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 2439 7688 1:00

Grid square: Fulham, West Brompton, Putney

Recording date: 30 May 2009

Time of day: 4.00pm

Location: OS grid reference TQ 2439 7688. Junction of Gowan Avenue and Munster Road.

Description: A helicopter clatters overhead somewhere, vehicles pass along Munster Road, a man speaks loudly to his companions, sounds of passersby and of car doors being slammed.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics. Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

About general sound map recordings

The majority of recordings on the general sound map are simply of curious or distinctive sounds heard around London. Some also appear elsewhere as part of the 12 Tones of London statistical recording project, and here are subsumed into their appropriate grid squares.

These kinds of recordings always have descriptive file names which don't require any further explanation. But just over a hundred others have ones consisting only of the letters 'TQ' followed by eight digits. These are the Ordnance Survey co-ordinates marking the exact centre of each of the sound map's 112 grid squares, and so these file names tell you with some precision where the recordings were made. Reaching each point was done with the help of a GPS receiver and a willingness to scramble over fences and run onto golf courses. The contents of those recordings are summarised in the graphic below:

The key on the left-hand side shows the most common sound categories encountered. The louder a particular sound type encountered at the centre of a grid square, the darker its icon. More than one icon of the same kind means that sound takes up more of the recording's length. Despite the wide spacing of the recording points and the brief duration of the sound files, they seem to do a reasonable job of plotting in outline the common or persistent sound types heard around London during the daytime.