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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.

Enfield traffic 1987 0:54

Grid square: Turkey Street, Enfield Lock

Recording date: 22 May 1987

Time of day: 8.34pm

Location: Hertford Road, Enfield Wash

Description: Loud traffic close by, an indistinct rustling sound.

Technical guff: Stereo. 2 x Tandy lapel mics, Marantz CP340 cassette recorder.

Recorded by: Richard Beard

Additional notes: Many thanks to Richard Beard for sharing this recording.

River Lea Enfield Lock 1:00

Grid square: Turkey Street, Enfield Lock

Recording date: 6 January 2012

Time of day: 3.45pm

Location: Enfield Lock, north London.

Description: Loud rushing of water pouring through a gap in the lock gates, thumping noises as two cars in succession drive over a metal plate in the road, cooing of pigeons.

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.

New River Turkey Brook 1:00

Grid square: Turkey Street, Enfield

Recording date: 3 September 2011

Time of day: 7.25pm

Location: North of the London Loop path, near Turkey Street, north London.

Description: Water splashes from a drain into the Turkey Brook where it runs in a channel by the New River.

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.

New River Maidens Bridge 1:00

Grid square: Turkey Street, Enfield

Recording date: 3 September 2011

Time of day: 7.15pm

Location: Near Maiden's Bridge, west of Turkey Street, north London.

Description: Sound of part of the New River rushing along a covered culvert, recorded above an opening set in the ground.

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.

TQ 3627 9963 1:00

Grid square: Turkey Street, Enfield Lock

Recording date: 21 April 2009

Time of day: 3.30pm

Location: A small field and recreation ground abutting Painters Lane footpath, a few score yards south of Mollison Avenue.

Description: Against a backdrop of traffic noise from Mollison Avenue dual carriageway, a group of boys play football and lark about in the field. A girl hurries past and exclaims something in what may be an East European language.

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.