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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 Quaggy Chinbrook Meadows 1:00

Grid square: Hither Green, Grove Park, Mottingham

Recording date: 5 November 2011

Time of day: 4.20pm

Location: Chinbrook Meadows, Grove Park.

Description: The Quaggy rushes as a thin sheet of water over its concrete bed, faint birdsong close by, 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 Quaggy Mottingham Lane 1:00

Grid square: Hither Green, Grove Park, Mottingham

Recording date: 5 November 2011

Time of day: 3.50pm

Location: Mottingham Lane near junction with Sidcup Road, Mottingham.

Description: Traffic, reverberant sound of the Quaggy as it flows into a culvert beneath Mottingham Lane, distant traffic and indistinct voices, 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.

River Quaggy Cray Valley FC 1:00

Grid square: Hither Green, Grove Park, Mottingham

Recording date: 5 November 2011

Time of day: 3.30pm

Location: Eltham Palace Road, overlooking the Cray Valley FC ground.

Description: Shouts of football players at the Cray Valley FC ground, referee's whistle, sound of the ball being kicked, constant traffic in distance.

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 Quaggy Sutcliffe Park 1:00

Grid square: Hither Green, Grove Park, Mottingham

Recording date: 5 November 2011

Time of day: 3.10pm

Location: Sutcliffe Park, Eltham.

Description: Loud whistling and chirping of starlings in a stand of trees, constant traffic on the A20.

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 Quaggy Manor House Gardens 1:00

Grid square: Hither Green, Grove Park, Mottingham

Recording date: 5 November 2011

Time of day: 2.15pm

Location: Manor House Gardens, Hither Green.

Description: Trickling of the Quaggy, distant traffic, sound of a football being kicked, indistinct voices of children in the park.

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.

Quaggy River March2011 1:56

Grid square: Hither Green, Grove Park, Mottingham

Recording date: March 2011

Time of day: Unknown

Location: Manor Park, Lewisham

Description: Trickling and rushing sounds of the river Quaggy, birdsong, distant traffic, an airplane flies overhead, a child's voice at the end.

Technical guff: Stereo.

Recorded by: Richard Sanderson

Additional notes: Many thanks to Richard Sanderson for sharing this recording via Soundcloud. For writings on post-punk, improvisation and English folk music, visit Richard's Baggage Reclaim blog.

TQ 4023 7309 1:00

Grid square: Hither Green, Grove Park, Mottingham

Recording date: 20 February 2009

Time of day: 12:45pm

Location: TQ 4023 7309. An alley running behind the back gardens of houses on Baring Road.

Description: Birdsong, faint traffic noise, a power saw used at the back of one of the houses.

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.