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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.

River Pool Bell Green 1:00

Grid square: Forest Hill, Catford, Ladywell

Recording date: 14 September 2011

Time of day: 2.55pm

Location: Near Moremead Road, Bell Green, southeast London.

Description: Close-up recording of the Pool as it flows swiftly through a narrow bend, birdsong, distant traffic.

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.

River Pool Lower Sydenham 1:00

Grid square: Forest Hill, Catford, Ladywell

Recording date: 14 September 2011

Time of day: 3.10pm

Location: Footpath off Worsley Bridge Road, Lower Sydenham.

Description: Trickle of the Pool as it passes over gravel, shouts of boys playing football in a sports ground opposite, airplane drone, faint birdsong.

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.

Ravensbourne Catford South 1:00

Grid square: Forest Hill, Catford, Ladywell

Recording date: 14 September 2011

Time of day: 2pm

Location: By Wickes DIY store off Catford Road, southeast London.

Description: Trickling of the Ravensbourne as a culvert takes it underground, a van revs its engine nearby, hum and drone of industrial machinery.

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.

River Pool Grangemill Road 1:00

Grid square: Forest Hill, Catford, Ladywell

Recording date: 14 September 2011

Time of day: 2.30pm

Location: By the River Pool near Grangemill Road, Bellingham.

Description: Distant voices of children at play, a dog barks, knocking sounds from a house close by, the wind stirs foliage.

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.

Ravensbourne Bellingham 1:00

Grid square: Forest Hill, Catford, Ladywell

Recording date: 24 July 2011

Time of day: 6.30pm

Location: Allerford Road, Bellingham, south-east London.

Description: Constant traffic on Bromley Road, the wind stirs nearby foliage, voices and music from a nearby estate.

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.

Ravensbourne Pool Linear Park 1:00

Grid square: Forest Hill, Catford, Ladywell

Recording date: 23 July 2011

Time of day: 2:50pm

Location: At the confluence of the rivers Pool and Ravensbourne, River Pool Linear Park, Catford.

Description: A train passes swiftly nearby, trickling of the rivers Pool and Ravensbourne, distant traffic, faint birdsong.

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.

Ravensbourne Catford 1:00

Grid square: Forest Hill, Catford, Ladywell

Recording date: 15 October 2009

Time of day: 4pm

Location: Under the railway bridge in Westdown Street, near Catford station, south-east London.

Description: Sound of the Ravensbourne river rushing beneath an iron cover set in the road surface. Footsteps nearby, and aeroplane drone in the background. A high-speed southbound train approaches towards the end.

Technical guff: Stereo. Audio Technica BP4025 mic and Fostex FR-2LE digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Horniman Museum 3:32

Grid square: Forest Hill, Catford, Ladywell

Recording date: 3 March 2007

Time of day: Not known

Location: Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, south London.

Description: Adults' and childrens' voices echo in the African Worlds Gallery at the Horniman Museum. Faint music and recorded voices from some of the exhibition displays.

Technical guff: Binaural stereo. Soundman OKM mics, Marantz PMD-670 recorder.

Recorded by: Dave Pape

Additional notes: Learn more about Dave Pape's activities at Museum of Techno.

TQ 3627 7309 1:00

Grid square: Forest Hill, Catford, Ladywell

Recording date: 20 February 2009

Time of day: 11.45am

Location: TQ 3627 7309. Kilmorie Road.

Description: Suburban street with aircraft drone, birdsong, car doors slamming, a man coughs and walks by, indistinct speech from further away.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics. Olympus LS-10 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.