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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.

Pymmes Brook Cockfosters 1:00

Grid square: Oakwood, Cockfosters

Recording date: 23 December 2011

Time of day: 1.30pm

Location: Immediately south of Monken Haldey Common, Cockfosters.

Description: Loud trickling from Pymme's Brook, a train passes in the distance, a woodpigeon coos, faint 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.

Pymmes Brook Oak Hill Park 1:00

Grid square: Oakwood, Cockfosters

Recording date: 23 December 2011

Time of day: 2.20pm

Location: By the side of a footbridge in Oak Hill Park, north London.

Description: Constant and slightly reverberent noise of Pymme's Brook as it flows over a ledge beneath a footbridge, faint birdsong in background.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, MixPre-D preamp, Sony PCM M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 2835 9584 1:00

Grid square: Oakwood, Cockfosters

Recording date: 21 April 2009

Time of day: 11.30am

Location: Gloucester Gardens, near Cockfosters Road.

Description: A broad residential street with large houses. To the north, sounds from workmen renovating a house, with intermittent drilling and hammering. A van drives past, airplane drone and background sounds of traffic passing along Cockfosters Road.

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.