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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 Waddon Ponds 1:00

Grid square: Waddon, Croydon

Recording date: 5 August 2011

Time of day: 5pm

Location: Waddon Ponds near Mill Lane.

Description: Calls of ducks and geese close by as they splash in the pond, children yell in the mid-distance, a motorbike and other traffic on Mill Lane.

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.

North End Croydon 2:30

Grid square: Waddon, Croydon

Recording date: 27 November 2010

Time of day: 3pm

Location: Walking along North End towards West Croydon.

Description: Busy pedestrianised shopping street ambience with voices of passersby, squeaking sounds made by an unhappy-looking person dressed as a clown, a tram bell at the end.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Man throws pots at drunks 2:29

Grid square: Waddon, Croydon

Recording date: 17 March 2006

Time of day: Not known

Location: Croydon High Street

Description: *Contains strong swearing* Croydon town centre has a large number of bars, where people get noisily and often aggressively drunk at weekends. Here, at the end of the High Street where the tram tracks head down the hill, we hear the sound of an annoyed resident in a 3rd-floor flat throwing plant pots and random objects down at drunk men, who shout back as their women look on.

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.

Castrate their balls 0:54

Grid square: Waddon, Croydon

Recording date: 30 August 2004

Time of day: Not known

Location: Church Street, Croydon

Description: Two women and a man walk along Church Street. The women discuss how animals are castrated while the man struggles to hold his own with his companions.

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.

Beddington dusk 2:39

Grid square: Waddon, Croydon

Recording date: 10/3/2007

Time of day: Dusk

Location: Near Beddington sewage farm, south London.

Description: "Recorded at dusk in woodland beside Beddington sewage farm in Greater London, towards the end of the recording a Little Owl passes closes by." – Genghis Attenborough

Technical guff: Not known

Recorded by: Genghis Attenborough

Additional notes: Recording made by Freesound Project contributor Genghis Attenborough. License: Creative Commons Sampling Plus 1.0.

TQ 3231 6551 1:00

Grid square: Waddon, Croydon

Recording date: 22 April 2009

Time of day: 4.15pm

Location: West side of the High Street, Croydon, near the junction with Park Street.

Description: A busy high street with the sounds of traffic, footsteps and the conversation of passers-by. Further away, people sit outside a pub and talk.

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.