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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.

Beverley Brook Wimbledon Common Weir 1:00

Grid square: Norbiton, New Malden

Recording date: 12 November 2011

Time of day: 3.20pm

Location: Wooded area in the southwest of Wimbledon Common.

Description: Rushing, gurgling sounds of water as Beverley Brook flows over a concrete weir.

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 New Malden 1:00

Grid square: Norbiton, New Malden

Recording date: 12 November 2011

Time of day: 2pm

Location: Footbridge off Rockwood Avenue, near Shannon Corner, New Malden.

Description: Distant traffic, an overflow pipe trickles into Beverley Brook, pigeons fly underneath the footbridge and out again.

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.

Hogsmill Fairfield Trade Park 1:00

Grid square: Norbiton, New Malden

Recording date: 22 October 2011

Time of day: 3.30pm

Location: On the river path by the Fairfield Trade Park, Norbiton.

Description: Calls of crows and jackdaws, distant traffic, trickling of the Hogsmill.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Sony PCM M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 2043 6930 1:00

Grid square: Norbiton, New Malden

Recording date: 28 Feburary 2009

Time of day: Noon

Location: OS reference TQ 2043 6930. High Drive, near junction with Overdale Avenue.

Description: Quiet suburban street. Postman's footsteps and sounds of letterbox flaps snapping shut as he delivers letters. A single car drives past, faint birdsong, traffic noise and aircraft drone.

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.