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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.

Foxes playfighting at night 2:09

Grid square: New Cross, Brockley, Lewisham

Recording date: 2 July 2014

Time of day: 2am

Location: Avignon Road, Brockley, south-east London.

Description: Two juvenile foxes playfight in the street at night, seemingly unconcerned by my presence about 15 yards away. They were eventually fled at the sight and sound of a passing car.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp and Roland R05 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Telegraph Hill Park 3:00

Grid square: New Cross, Brockley, Lewisham

Recording date: 24 July 2014

Time of day: 2.30pm

Location: South end of Telegraph Hill Park near Kitto Road, New Cross.

Description: Sounds of a small park recorded on a weekday afternoon. Footsteps, voices of children at play, a bus heads uphill along Jerningham Road, a baby begins crying.

Technical guff: Spaced omnis with Soundblock acoustic baffle. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp and Roland R05 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Al Ayaan coffee bar Peckham 1:55

Grid square: New Cross, Brockley, Lewisham

Recording date: 31 January 2013

Time of day: 3pm

Location: At the back of an indoor market off Rye Lane, Peckham.

Description: Voices of customers sitting nearby, two members of staff work behind the coffee bar, sound of the espresso machine.

Technical guff: In-ear binaural stereo. Soundman OKM II Classic/Studio mics and Edirol R09-HR recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Ravensbourne Elverson Road 1:00

Grid square: New Cross, Brockley, Lewisham

Recording date: 23 July 2011

Time of day: 1:10pm

Location: Near Armour Way and Elverson Road DLR station, Lewisham.

Description: Faint trickling of the Ravensbourne, clattering of wheels as a DLR train approaches and stops at Elverson Road station, faint voices, distant traffic.

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.

Ravensbourne Deptford Bridge 1:00

Grid square: New Cross, Brockley, Lewisham

Recording date: 23 July 2011

Time of day: 12:50pm

Location: By Deptford Broadway underneath Deptford Bridge DLR station.

Description: Loud sound of traffic passing with individual vehicle engines prominent, airplane drone, grinding of wheels of a DLR train as it approaches Deptford Bridge station.

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.

Ravensbourne Deptford Creek 1:00

Grid square: New Cross, Brockley, Lewisham

Recording date: 23 July 2011

Time of day: 12.10pm

Location: Green Quay, Deptford Creek, south-east London.

Description: Cries of gulls or terns, sound of a boat's engine on the Thames, faint footsteps and voices of passersby, a road-sweeping machine passes on the opposite side of Deptford Creek.

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.

Mysterious junction box Nunhead 1:00

Grid square: New Cross, Brockley, Lewisham

Recording date: 29 April 2011

Time of day: 10.30pm

Location: Junction of Gibbon Road and Oak Street, Nunhead.

Description: Loud humming and rattling noise from a junction box. Faint footsteps heard briefly.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Deptford market 3:00

Grid square: New Cross, Lewisham, Brockley

Recording date: 19 March 2011

Time of day: 1.30pm

Location: Deptford market, south-east London.

Description: Saturday afternoon market atmosphere with music from stalls, voices of passersby and stallholders.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Brockley Barge Thursday night 1:00

Grid square: New Cross, Brockley, Lewisham

Recording date: 20 January 2011

Time of day: 9.30pm

Location: In the Brockley Barge pub, southeast London.

Description: Busy pub ambience with general hubbub and more distinct voices closer by as a group of men discuss football.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x MM-HLSO/Sennheiser MKE-2 mics and Edirol R09-HR recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Laundrette Brockley 2:12

Grid square: New Cross, Brockley, Lewisham

Recording date: 21 March 2010

Time of day: 2.30pm

Location: Laundrette on Brockley Road, south-east London.

Description: Three excerpts from a longer recording with sounds of washing machines, the spin dryer, and tumble dryers. Voices of staff and customers.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. MM-HLSO/Sennheiser MKE-2 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Car wash 2:50

Grid square: New Cross, Brockley, Lewisham

Recording date: 3 March 2010

Time of day: 3.45pm

Location: Sainsburys garage car wash, New Cross Gate.

Description: Three extracts from a longer recording of a car wash cycle made, fortunately, from inside a car.

Technical guff: Stereo. Audio Technica BP4025 mic and Fostex FR-2LE digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Ed Lawrenson.

Rye Lane Peckham 4:42

Grid square: New Cross, Brockley, Lewisham

Recording date: May 2008

Time of day: 4.30pm

Location: Walking south along Rye Lane from Peckham Rye station.

Description: Weekday late afternoon on Rye Lane. A busker plays a guitar in the station, sounds of street cleaning vehicle, traffic, butcher's cleaver hitting a wooden block, music from shops, and passersby.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. Sonic Studios DSM-6S/EH and PA-3SX preamp. Olympus LS-10 digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Greenwich foot tunnel 3:47

Grid square: New Cross, Brockley, Lewisham

Recording date: 2005

Time of day: Not known

Location: Greenwich foot tunnel, passing under the Thames between Greenwich and the Isle of Dogs.

Description: "Opened in 1902, Greenwich Foot Tunnel runs under the river Thames, connecting the Isle of Dogs with the borough of Greenwich. Its rounded diameter and tiled walls give it peculiar acoustics, which are being explored here by children imitating police sirens. Recorded for the D-Fuse project Undercurrent." – 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.

TQ 3627 7688 1:00

Grid square: New Cross, Brockley, Lewisham

Recording date: 25 May 2009

Time of day: 2 pm

Location: OS reference 3627 7688. St James, a cul-de-sac off New Cross Road, opposite New Cross Gate station.

Description: Constant background traffic noise from New Cross Road. Sounds of people walking past the student accommodation block on St James, a car pulls up and its occupants get out 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.

Nunhead foxes 1:26

Grid square: New Cross, Brockley, Lewisham

Recording date: 9 May 2009

Time of day: Around midnight

Location: Near the railway cutting east of Nunhead station.

Description: A fox screeches every few seconds then, after a while, a second fox joins in. Sounds of vehicles passing over a road bridge and a continuous buzz from a nearby electricity sub-station.

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.