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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.

Silkstream Park 1:00

Grid square: Edgware, Mill Hill

Recording date: 20 November 2011

Time of day: 2.45pm

Location: Silkstream Park, Burnt Oak, north-west London.

Description: The Silk Stream flows out over a shallow bed from beneath Silkstream Road.

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.

Silk Stream Burnt Oak Fields 1:00

Grid square: Edgware, Mill Hill

Recording date: 20 November 2011

Time of day: 2.15pm

Location: Burnt Oak Fields, north-west London.

Description: An Underground train passes, aircraft drone, birdsong, faint trickling of the Silk Stream, distant traffic, a resident from a nearby house puts out their rubbish.

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.

Edgware Brook Chandos Recreation Ground 1:00

Grid square: Edgware, Mill Hill

Recording date: 20 November 2011

Time of day: 1pm

Location: North-east corner of the Chandos Recreation Ground, Edgware, north-west London.

Description: Birdsong from nearby trees, constant noise of traffic in the distance, a child's voice while at play.

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.

Edgware Brook Merlin Crescent 1:00

Grid square: Edgware, Mill Hill

Recording date: 20 November 2011

Time of day: 12.30pm

Location: Merlin Crescent, Edgware, north-west London.

Description: The Edgware Brook runs beneath Merlin Crescent, a car passes.

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.

Burnt Oak at night 3:00

Grid square: Edgware, Mill Hill

Recording date: 20 November 2010

Time of day: 8pm

Location: Walking east along Watling Avenue, Burnt Oak.

Description: Night-time sounds in Watling Avenue, with sounds from late-opening shops, voices of passersby, and traffic.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-10 digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 2043 9205 1:00

Grid square: Edgware, Mill Hill

Recording date: 20 March 2009

Time of day: 2.20pm

Location: OS reference TQ 2043 9205. Church Close, near junction with Dean's Lane.

Description: Traffic on Dean's Lane, a gardener mows the lane in front of John Keble Church, faint sounds of people talking and children laughing.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics. Olympus LS-10 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.