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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 Worcester Park 1:00

Grid square: Tolworth, Old Malden

Recording date: 12 November 2011

Time of day: 12.40pm

Location: Worcester Park by Green Lane.

Description: Loud traffic on Green Lane, faint chirping of sparrows, Beverley Brook trickles close by.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Hogsmill Kingston Bypass 1:00

Grid square: Tolworth, Old Malden

Recording date: 22 October 2011

Time of day: 2.50pm

Location: By the Kingston Bypass near the junction with Elmbridge Avenue.

Description: Loud rushing of the Hogsmill as it passes over a weir, constant traffic noise from the Kingston Bypass, a bird calls.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Hogsmill Old Malden 1:00

Grid square: Tolworth, Old Malden

Recording date: 22 October 2011

Time of day: 1.50pm

Location: Off Church Road, Old Malden.

Description: Distant traffic, birdsong, a dog barks, the wind stirs foliage.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Hogsmill West Ewell 1:00

Grid square: Tolworth, Old Malden

Recording date: 22 October 2011

Time of day: 12.50pm

Location: Near Curtis Road, West Ewell.

Description: Trickling of a small stream as it runs into the Hogsmill, distant traffic, birdsong, a crow caws.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Hogsmill Pack Horse Bridge 1:00

Grid square: Tolworth, Old Malden

Recording date: 22 October 2011

Time of day: 12.20pm

Location: On Pack Horse Bridge, King George V recreation ground, Stoneleigh.

Description: Quiet ambience with the wind stirring foliage, distant traffic, faint birdsong and voices.

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 6551 1:00

Grid square: Tolworth, Old Malden

Recording date: 22 April 2009

Time of day: 12.30pm

Location: Kingston University playing fields, off Old Kingston Road.

Description: Birdsong, faint traffic noise from a dual carriageway a couple of furlongs due south, continuous humming tone from overhead powerlines.

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.