THIS PAGE HAS A TEXT-ONLY VERSION FOR BLIND USERS
SHARE THIS PAGE

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.

Grosvenor Waterside fountain 1:40

Grid square: Chelsea, Battersea, Clapham

Recording date: 6 August 2015

Time of day: 2.50pm

Location: By the Grosvenor canal inside the Grosvenor Waterside private housing complex, Pimlico.

Description: Loud, rapid clatter of a fountain where thin sheets of water fall a short distance into a stone trough.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Mouth of the Westbourne 2:30

Grid square: Chelsea, Battersea, Clapham

Recording date: 6 August 2015

Time of day: 2.15pm

Location: Inside the mouth of the Westbourne river, Chelsea Embankment.

Description: Faint trickling sound of water from beneath one of the two floodgates inside the Westbourne's tunnel, airplane noise, traffic, brief cries from a gull.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Chelsea Harbour 3:30

Grid square: Chelsea, Battersea, Clapham

Recording date: 4 July 2015

Time of day: 1pm

Location: East side of Chelsea Harbour.

Description: Distant traffic, creaking of boats' rigging as they drift slightly at the moorings, airplane and helicopter drone, faint voices, an electric bell rings, the wind stirs nearby foliage.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Battersea Park fountain 1:30

Grid square: Chelsea, Battersea, Clapham

Recording date: 21 September 2012

Time of day: 3.30pm

Location: Batterses Park.

Description: Peter writes: "Battersea Park, fountains and aircraft. Initially all fountains operating, then the main bank, to my right, switches off and aircraft passes overhead."

Technical guff: Stereo. Olympus LS3 internal mics and Rycote windshield.

Recorded by: Peter Jeffels

Additional notes: Many thanks to Peter Jeffels for sharing this recording. Visit his Soundcloud page at soundcloud.com/macferret.

Queenstown Road station 1:20

Grid square: Chelsea, Battersea, Clapham

Recording date: 1 April 2012

Time of day: 3.30pm

Location: Queenstown Road railway station, Battersea.

Description: Traffic, airplane drone, a recorded platform announcement, a train passes at high speed, faint music from a nearby house.

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.

Battersea Park 5:30

Grid square: Chelsea, Battersea, Clapham

Recording date: Unknown

Time of day: Early morning

Location: By the lake in Battersea Park, south London.

Description: Loud airplane drone, birdsong and calls of waterfowl, splashes, a cyclist passes by, a faint siren in the distance.

Technical guff: Stereo.

Recorded by: Sam Appleby

Additional notes: Many thanks to Sam Appleby for sharing this recording via Soundcloud. Visit Sam Appleby's website to see examples of his landscape photography and audiovisual work.

Clapham Junction walkway 3:00

Grid square: Chelsea, Battersea, Clapham

Recording date: 15 May 2011

Time of day: 6pm

Location: Walking northwards along the covered inter-platform walkway at Clapham Junction station.

Description: Voices and footsteps, two men run past to catch a train, grinding sounds of train wheels, faint aeroplane drone, station announcements over speakers.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Nine Elms Sunday market 4:00

Grid square: Chelsea, Battersea, Clapham

Recording date: 8 May 2011

Time of day: Noon

Location: Nine Elms Sunday market, Vauxhall.

Description: Busy market atmosphere with voices of market-goers and stallholders, loud recorded music, growing quieter in an indoor part of the market towards the end.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Car boot sale Battersea 1:40

Grid square: Chelsea, Battersea, Clapham

Recording date: 25 April 2010

Time of day: 2.30pm

Location: Car boot sale off Battersea Bridge Road, south-west London.

Description: General hustle and bustle of the boot sale, humming from a snack bar's generator, voices of stallholders and customers.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x MM-HLSO/Sennheiser MKE-2 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Roadside snack bar Battersea 1:39

Grid square: Chelsea, Battersea, Clapham

Recording date: 6 February 2010

Time of day: 10.45pm

Location: Snack bar on Queenstown Road by Battersea Bridge.

Description: Voice of the snack bar owner, sizzling of food being cooked on a griddle, clattering of kitchen utensils, traffic passing by on Queenstown Road.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 2835 7688 1:00

Grid square: Chelsea, Battersea, Clapham

Recording date: 30 May 2009

Time of day: 5.00pm

Location: OS grid reference TQ 2835 7688. Prince of Wales Drive, near the junction with Macduff Road, overlooking Battersea Park.

Description: Vehicles pass along Prince of Wales Drive, a resident nearby slams shut the door to a block of mansion flats, the traffic dies down, allowing the voices of children and adults from the park to be heard, along with birdsong and the drone of a distant motorbike.

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.