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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.

Kingsmead Avenue N9 June 2:00

Grid square: Ponders End, North Chingford

Recording date: 13 June 2015

Time of day: 3pm

Location: Halfway along Kingsmead Avenue, north London.

Description: A car and a flatbed lorry pass in succession, distant traffic, faint birdsong, a front door opens, airplane drone, music from a nearby house.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Coniston Gardens N9 June 2:00

Grid square: Ponders End, North Chingford

Recording date: 13 June 2015

Time of day: 2.40pm

Location: Coniston Gardens north of junction with Cumberland Road, north London.

Description: Woodpigeons coo, a dog barks in a nearby house, vehicles pass occasionally along Cumberland Road, indistinct voices heard briefly, distant traffic, drone of a light airplane.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Bounces Road N9 June 2:00

Grid square: Ponders End, North Chingford

Recording date: 13 June 2015

Time of day: 2.35pm

Location: North side of Bounces Road near junction with St Peter's Road, north London.

Description: Voices of men and a woman sitting outside a cafe nearby, loud traffic on Bounces Road, clattering sounds, a mobile phone ringtone.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

North Way N9 June 2:00

Grid square: Ponders End, North Chingford

Recording date: 13 June 2015

Time of day: 2.05pm

Location: North Way on the Claverings industrial estate, north London.

Description: Distant traffic, faint birdsong, faint indistinct voices, the wind rattles a nearby metal roller shutter, noise of an aircon unit, a faint scratching noise from a workshop in mid-distance.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Picketts Lock Lane N9 June 2:00

Grid square: Ponders End, North Chingford

Recording date: 13 June 2015

Time of day: 1.15pm

Location: Halfway along Picketts Lock Lane east of Meridian Way, north London.

Description: Voices and footsteps of two joggers going by, a train passes in the distance, birdsong, distant traffic, a car drives past, a bang like a door being slammed, a lorry with a rattling load drives past.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Woodlands Road N9 July 2:00

Grid square: Ponders End, North Chingford

Recording date: 8 July 2013

Time of day: 12:40pm

Location: Eastern cul-de-sac end of Woodlands Road, Edmonton, north-east London.

Description: A workman cuts kerbstones with an angle-grinder on Devonshire Road, faint indistinct cries of children, the chatter of a pneumatic drill.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Some wind noise present.

Grosvenor Road N9 July 2:00

Grid square: Ponders End, North Chingford

Recording date: 8 July 2013

Time of day: 12.25pm

Location: Junction of Grosvenor Road and St Peter's Road, Edmonton, north-east London.

Description: Birdsong in a residential street, voices of children at play in a nearby school, the wind rustles foliage, occasional passersby, the drone of a helicopter approaches then recedes.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Hertford Road N9 July 2:00

Grid square: Ponders End, North Chingford

Recording date: 8 July 2013

Time of day: 12.15pm

Location: Hertford Road near junction with Bury Road, Edmonton, north-east London.

Description: Loud traffic passing along Hertford Road, voices of women and a child shopping for vegetables outside a grocery shop, rustle 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.

Kenwood Road N9 July 2:00

Grid square: Ponders End, North Chingford

Recording date: 8 July 2013

Time of day: 12.05pm

Location: Kenwood Road near junction with Bury Road, Edmonton, north-east London.

Description: Traffic passing along Bury Road and Kenwood Road, pedestrians walk past occasionally, a woman and a man speak briefly at a street corner.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

River Lea Brimsdown 1:00

Grid square: Ponders End, North Chingford

Recording date: 6 January 2012

Time of day: 2.45pm

Location: Facing the Ponders End industrial estate, Brimsdown, north London.

Description: A constant hum from a factory, birdsong, occasional calls of coots, distant banging noises.

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 9584 1:00

Grid square: Ponders End, North Chingford

Recording date: 21 April 2009

Time of day: 2.30pm

Location: On a footpath a few yards to the north-east of the roundabout marking the junction of Lea Bridge Road and Meridian Way.

Description: Heavy, ceaseless traffic, with the burr of individual motorbike engines easily distinguished above the general roar and rumble.

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.