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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.

The Wandle Colliers Wood 1:00

Grid square: Mitcham, Colliers Wood, Streatham Vale

Recording date: 21 May 2011

Time of day: 12.30pm

Location: By the Wandle outside Sainsburys, Colliers Wood.

Description: Traffic and a siren on Merton High Street, trickling of the Wandle close by, voices, constant hum of fixed machinery by the supermarket.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics and Fostex FR-2LE recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Watermill at Merton Abbey Mills 1:00

Grid square: Mitcham, Colliers Wood, Streatham Vale

Recording date: 21 May 2011

Time of day: 12.50pm

Location: Merton Abbey Mills, off Merantun Way, Colliers Wood.

Description: Loud noise from a watermill's paddles as they churn the river Wandle, faint voices in background.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics and Fostex FR-2LE recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

The Wandle Ravensbury Park North 1:00

Grid square: Mitcham, Colliers Wood, Streatham Vale

Recording date: 21 May 2011

Time of day: 3pm

Location: Towards the north-west end of Ravesnbury Park, south London.

Description: Sound of the wind in the trees, distant traffic, noise of a helicopter, calls of ducks, birdsong.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics and Fostex FR-2LE recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

The Wandle Ravensbury Park South 1:00

Grid square: Mitcham, Colliers Wood, Streatham Vale

Recording date: 21 May 2011

Time of day: 3.15pm

Location: By the Wandle at the south-east end of Ravensbury Park, south London.

Description: Loud rushing of water as the Wandle cascades over a short drop, faint birdsong in background.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics and Fostex FR-2LE recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

The Wandle at Bennetts Hole 1:00

Grid square: Mitcham, Colliers Wood, Streatham Vale

Recording date: 21 May 2011

Time of day: 3.45pm

Location: By the Wandle opposite the Bennett's Hole nature reserve, near St Helier.

Description: Birdsong, children's voices in the distance, faint constant traffic, the breeze stirs foliage nearby.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics and Fostex FR-2LE recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Wandle Meadow Nature Park 1:00

Grid square: Mitcham, Colliers Wood, Streatham Vale

Recording date: 19 May 2011

Time of day: 6.40pm

Location: By the river in the Wandle Meadow Nature Park, Colliers Wood, south London.

Description: Birdsong, distant traffic, faint voices of fisherman upstream of the recording point.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics and Fostex FR-2LE recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 2835 6930 1:00

Grid square: Mitcham, Collier's Wood, Streatham Vale

Recording date: 28 February 2009

Time of day: 1.45pm

Location: OS reference TQ 2835 6930. Middle of small allotment space bordered by Earlsfield Road.

Description: Sounds of heavy, slow-moving traffic from Eastfield Road, about 30 yards 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.