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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.

Daneville Road SE5 May 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 8 May 2015

Time of day: 3.10pm

Location: Daneville Road near junction with Grove Lane, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Birdsong, distant traffic, slamming of car doors in the street, voices of passersby, occasional passing vehicles, distant traffic on Camberwell Church Street.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Camberwell Church Street SE5 May 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 8 May 2015

Time of day: 3.15pm

Location: Outside the library on Camberwell Church Street, south London.

Description: Vehicles wait at a set of traffic lights close by before moving off, faint voices and footsteps of pedestrians.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Kimpton Road SE5 May 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 8 May 2015

Time of day: 4.20pm

Location: Midway along Kimpton Road, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Voices and footsteps of passersby, a door slams nearby, faint birdsong, helicopter drone growing louder, traffic on Camberwell Church Street in the mid-distance, an ambulance passes sounding its siren.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Butterfly Walk arcade SE5 May 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 8 May 2015

Time of day: 3.25pm

Location: Inside the Butterfly Walk shopping arcade, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Echoing voices of shoppers and schoolchildren inside the arcade, rumble of traffic passing along Denmark Hill.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Valmar Road SE5 May 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 8 May 2015

Time of day: 3.35pm

Location: Valmar Road by the junction with Morna Road, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Helicopter drone, voices of children and adults leaving a nearby primary school, faint birdsong, a distant siren, a car engine idles nearby.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Denmark Road SE5 May 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 8 May 2015

Time of day: 3.45pm

Location: Beneath the railway bridge crossing Denmark Road, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Loud noise of a train passing directly overhead, occasional traffic on Denmark Road, voices of people walking past on the other side of the road, cooing of pigeons roosting among the bridge's girders.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Baldwin Crescent SE5 May 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 8 May 2015

Time of day: 3.50pm

Location: Midway along Baldwin Crescent, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Birdsong, a moped passes, distant traffic and siren, a car door slams in the street followed by someone coughing, noise of raindrops, airplane drone.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Councillor Street SE5 May 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 8 May 2015

Time of day: 4pm

Location: North end of Councillor Street, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Traffic passing close by along Councillor Street and Redcar Street, music from a passing car, distant traffic on Camberwell New Road, a dog barks in the distance.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Wyndham Road SE5 May 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 8 May 2015

Time of day: 4.05pm

Location: Wyndham Road near junction with Farmers Road, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Loud siren at the start, voices of passersby, traffic passing close by along Wyndham Road and, further away, along Camberwell New Road, faint noise of raindrops.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Farmers Road SE5 May 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 8 May 2015

Time of day: 4.10pm

Location: Midway along Farmers Road, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Airplane drone, faint sound of rain, occasional vehicles and voices of passersby, more distant traffic and a siren, children's voices from a school playground, low machine noise from a nearby workshop.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Warham Street SE5 May 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 8 May 2015

Time of day: 4.20pm

Location: Warham Street, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Three schoolboys laugh and talk among themselves as they pass by, constant traffic on Camberwell New Road, airplane drone, birdsong, sounds of desultory activity from a nearby garage, faint noise of raindrops.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Grosvenor Terrace SE5 May 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 8 May 2015

Time of day: 4.30pm

Location: Towards western end of Grosvenor Terrace, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Distant sirens and traffic noise in background, birdsong, the noise of a power tool in the mid-distance, doors slam occasionally along the street, a man mutters to himself before putting a piece of litter in a bin, a woman calls out.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Camberwell New Road SE5 November 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 18 November 2013

Time of day: 2.40pm

Location: Camberwell New Road by junction with Camberwell Station Road, south London.

Description: Loud, constant traffic passing along Camberwell New Road, airplane drone, a train passes along a viaduct close by, brief sound of a pneumatic drill, a man runs past.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Badsworth Road SE5 November 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 18 November 2013

Time of day: 2.45pm

Location: Badsworth Road near junction with Comber Grove, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Distant traffic and vehicles passing closer by, faint voices of children at play, airplane drone.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Warham Street SE5 November 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 18 November 2013

Time of day: 2.55pm

Location: North end of Warham Street, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Electronic beeps from a reversing lorry, distant traffic and siren, a constant hiss from a nearby workshop, a car passes, a woman's voice.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

John Ruskin Street SE5 November 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 18 November 2013

Time of day: 3.10pm

Location: John Ruskin Street 50 yards east from junction with Dale Road, Walworth, south London.

Description: Fairly heavy traffic passing along John Ruskin Street, a cyclist goes by, a dog barks briefly, jingling of keys or change as a jogger runs past.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Grosvenor Terrace SE5 November 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 18 November 2013

Time of day: 3.15pm

Location: Halfway along Grosvenor Terrace, Walworth, south London.

Description: Adults' and children's voices, airplane drone, a man leaves his house and closes the door, a car revs and pulls away.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Urlwin Street SE5 November 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 18 November 2013

Time of day: 3.20pm

Location: Halfway along Urlwin Street, Walworth, south London.

Description: A woman talks and laughs as she walks on the opposite side of the street, airplane drone, an angle grinder or similar power tool in the distance, shuffling footsteps, a car passes.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Wren Road SE5 November 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 18 November 2013

Time of day: 4pm

Location: Southern end of Wren Road, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Airplane drone, voices of a a small child and her mother, traffic on Camberwell Church Street, footsteps of passersby, rustling of carrier bags.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Butterfly Walk SE5 November 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 18 November 2013

Time of day: 4.05pm

Location: Butterfly Walk shopping arcade, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Echoing voices of shoppers and pedestrians as they pass through Butterfly Walk shopping arcade, rustling of carrier bags, traffic on Denmark Hill from one end of the arcade, a vehicle with a siren passes.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Coniston House SE5 July 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 11 July 2013

Time of day: 3.30pm

Location: By Coniston House block of flats off Wyndham Road, Camberwell, south-east London.

Description: Deep sound of a large-scale heating or air-conditioning vent, voices of children at play, indistinct adult voices.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Camberwell Green July 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 11 July 2013

Time of day: 4.10pm

Location: Middle of Camberwell Green, south London.

Description: Loud constant traffic passing along Camberwell Road and Camberwell Church Street, voices of children at play and of adults sunning themselves on the Green or walking across it.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Lowth Road SE5 July 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 11 July 2013

Time of day: 3pm

Location: Middle of Lowth Road, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Birdsong, aircraft drone, bass notes from music playing in a nearby flat, occasional passing traffic, children's voices, two men talk as they approach and walk by.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Hopewell Street SE5 July 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 11 July 2013

Time of day: 4.25pm

Location: Hopewell Street near junction with Picton Street, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Deep bass notes from music playing somewhere to the north, passing traffic, a child sobs as she walks by with her mother, indistinct voices, light aircraft drone.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Knatchbull Road SE5 July 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 11 July 2013

Time of day: 3.15pm

Location: East end of Knatchbull Road under the railway bridge, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Passing traffic, calls of pigeons and their fledglings nesting under the bridge, footsteps and voices of passersby, a man begins whistling loudly.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Warner Road SE5 July 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 11 July 2013

Time of day: 3.05pm

Location: Near the junction with Crawford Road, Camberwell, south London.

Description: A moped goes past, drilling sounds from a large building being renovated nearby, cars pass along the street, faint calls of swifts, voices heard briefly.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Lomond Grove SE5 July 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 11 July 2013

Time of day: 4.20pm

Location: South end of Lomond Grove, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Two men chat and laugh on the other side of the road, occasional passing traffic, helicopter drone.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Thompson Avenue SE5 July 1:58

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 11 July 2013

Time of day: 3.40pm

Location: Next to the Blue Elephant threatre, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Quiet street with occasional passing traffic, music plays from a car, a man speaks briefly as he helps an elderly friend across the road.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Draycott Close SE5 July 2:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 11 July 2013

Time of day: 4.35pm

Location: Off Edmond Street, Camberwell, south London.

Description: Loud noises from a building site close by, including bulldozer and angle-grinder. A man calls out briefly, other less distinct voices.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Peckham Rye station arcade 1:30

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 28 November 2010

Time of day: Noon

Location: In the small arcade connecting Peckham Rye train station to Rye Lane.

Description: Preacher's voice coming from premises above a shop, footsteps and voices of passersby, rustling of plastic carrier bags, the bass end of music from somewhere.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Doctors surgery SE11 3:19

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 2010

Time of day: Not known

Location: A doctors' surgery somewhere in the SE11 postal district.

Description: Doctors' surgery ambience with voices of staff and waiting patients, distant slamming of doors, a brief announcement over a loudspeaker, crying and babbling of infants, occasional coughs.

Technical guff: Not known.

Recorded by: Will Montgomery

Additional notes: None.

Atlantic Road Brixton 1:42

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 6 February 2010

Time of day: 10pm

Location: Brixton station stairway, about forty feet above Atlantic Road.

Description: Occasional vehicles passing along Atlantic Road below, voices and footsteps, a siren, traffic and faint shouts from Brixton Road further away.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Asda Old Kent Road 1:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 10 January 2010

Time of day: 4pm

Location: Asda supermarket, Old Kent Road

Description: Loud humming and fainter rattling from chiller cabinets next to the queue for the cigarettes-and-scratchcards counter. One of the cash tills sounds a warning tone when a staff member opens it up to unjam the receipt feed.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Brixton afternoon 6:34

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: May 2008

Time of day: 1:30pm

Location: Walking from Brixton Road, along Brixton Station Road, Pope's Road and Electric Avenue.

Description: Market and crowd sounds recorded while walking through central Brixton on a Saturday afternoon.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. Sonic Studios DSM-6S/EH mics and PA-3SX preamp. Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Brixton Station 2:22

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 1999

Time of day: Not known

Location: Entrance to Brixton Undeground station, south London.

Description: "At the time, Brixton station was a kind of micro-melting pot featuring a set of characters who collectively caused tumult and commotion on a daily basis. Some of them were known by names derived from the sounds they contributed to the local soundscape: the Biggie-Biggie man or the Incense man for example. These two were supported by an assortment of preachers from various Baptist and Pentecostal churches, market criers, ticket touts, Underground staff and others. Since the attempt at gentrifying the centre of Brixton things have become a lot less interesting. Leaving the station now, one is not greeted by the lively hustle and bustle, but by the sounds of cars and buses going past." – Matthias Kispert

Technical guff: Not known.

Recorded by: Matthias Kispert

Additional notes: Recording from soundtransit.nl, covered by a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.

By Oval tube station 1:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 29 August 2009

Time of day: 10pm

Location: At the entrance to Oval Underground station.

Description: A sports car accelerates away, station announcer's voice, speech of people going in and out of the Underground station, traffic.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. Sonic Studios DSM-6S/EH mics and PA-3SX preamp, Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Beehive pub Brixton 1:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 22 August 2009

Time of day: 10pm

Location: The Beehive pub on Brixton Road, central Brixton.

Description: Ambience inside the Beehive pub on a Saturday night. The pub was fairly full, and the recording point was a few feet from the bar. Voices of male and female customers in animated conversation, loud laughter.

Technical guff: Stereo. Sonic Studios DSM-6S/EH mics and PA-3SX preamp, Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Coldharbour Lane Brixton 2:40

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 22 August 2009

Time of day: 10.30pm

Location: Walking eastwards along Coldharbour Lane from the junction with Brixton Road.

Description: Traffic on Brixton Road, voice of a man standing outside KFC, voices of passersby, music from bars and clubs, a sack of ice is thrown onto the ground from the back of a van, music from a small shop.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. Sonic Studios DSM-6S/EH mics and PA-3SX preamp, Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Westmoreland Road flea market 1:55

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 9 August 2009

Time of day: 12.30pm

Location: Westmoreland Road flea market, off Walworth Road

Description: Traders begin to pack up for the day at Westmoreland Road flea/junk market. Sounds of traders' and customers' voices, tubular-framed stalls being dismantled, and music from a stall selling old cassette tapes.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. Sonic Studios DSM-6S/EH mics and PA-3SX preamp, Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Post-recording EQ low cut to reduce wind noise.

TQ 3231 7688 1:00

Grid square: Walworth, Brixton, Peckham

Recording date: 30 May 2009

Time of day: 6.15pm

Location: OS grid reference TQ 3231 7688. Medlar Street, near junction with Camberwell New Road.

Description: A police car speeds along Camberwell New Road with its siren blaring, a magpie makes its rasping call from a tree, loud music from a passing car, traffic noise, and faint voices in the street.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Some clipping distortion from the police siren, which was removed via software in WAV format, but has re-appeared more faintly after compression to MP3.

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.