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.

Greenwich Foot Tunnel 4:12

Grid square: Greenwich, Chalton, Blackheath

Recording date: 2 September 2011

Time of day: 5.30pm

Location: Greenwich foot tunnel, southeast London.

Description: Echoing voices of adults and children speaking in English and German, footsteps and brief whistling as pedestrians walk along the Greenwich Foot Tunnel under the Thames.

Technical guff: Stereo. Zoom H4n recorder, internal mics.

Recorded by: Matthew 'Wills' Williams

Additional notes: Many thanks to Matthew 'Wills' Williams for sharing this recording with the London Sound Survey. See Matthew's professional sound design resume on IMDb here.

River Quaggy Weigall Road 1:00

Grid square: Greenwich, Chalton, Blackheath

Recording date: 5 November 2011

Time of day: 2.50pm

Location: Weigall Road, Blackheath Park.

Description: Distant traffic, trickling of the Quaggy as it passes beneath Weigall Road, faint music and voices of football players, a car drives past.

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.

Greenwich Park in the snow 1:37

Grid square: Greenwich, Chalton, Blackheath

Recording date: 18 December 2010

Time of day: 4.30pm

Location: North side of Greenwich Park.

Description: Yells of children and adults riding toboggans downhill from the Royal Observatory.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

177 bus Woolwich Rd 1:00

Grid square: Greenwich, Charlton, Blackheath

Recording date: 24 November 2009

Time of day: 10.30pm

Location: The top deck of a westbound 177 bus on Woolwich Road.

Description: The bus crawls along Woolwich Road as people on the top deck talk on their mobile phones and to each other.

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 4023 7688 1:00

Grid square: Greenwich, Chalton, Blackheath

Recording date: 25 May 2009

Time of day: 1:15pm

Location: OS reference TQ 4023 7688. Shooters Hill Road, near junction with Prince of Wales Road.

Description: Constant traffic noise from Shooters Hill Road, around 15 yards north of the recording point. Individual cars occasionally pass closer by along St German's Place, which runs alongside Shooters Hill Road, separated by a narrow grassy strip.

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.