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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.

Dollis Brook Walmington Fold 1:00

Grid square: Mill Hill, East Finchley

Recording date: 19 June 2011

Time of day: 4.10pm

Location: Recreation ground by Walmington Fold, Woodside Park, north London.

Description: Birdsong, trickling of the Dollis Brook, shouts and other sounds of a family playing football, a train passes in the distance.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Edirol R09-HR recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Dollis Brook Lovers Walk 1:00

Grid square: Mill Hill, East Finchley

Recording date: 19 June 2011

Time of day: 3.50pm

Location: Footbridge over the Dollis Brook leading to Lovers' Walk, Finchley Golf Course, north London.

Description: Brief grinding of a metal gate being shut, sound of the Dollis Brook, whack of golf balls being hit, faint voices and aircraft drone.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Edirol R09-HR recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Dollis Brook Claremont Park 1:00

Grid square: Mill Hill, East Finchley

Recording date: 19 June 2011

Time of day: 3.10pm

Location: By the Dollis Brook near Claremont Park, Church End, north London.

Description: Birdsong, distant traffic, faint sound of the Dollis Brook, someone uses a hammer in a back garden.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Edirol R09-HR recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Dollis Brook Windsor Open Space 1:00

Grid square: Mill Hill, East Finchley

Recording date: 19 June 2011

Time of day: 2.55pm

Location: Windsor Open Space, near Holders Hill, north London.

Description: Children's voices in the mid-distance, the wind stirs foliage, birdsong, distant traffic.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Edirol R09-HR recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 2439 9205 1:00

Grid square: Mill Hill East, Finchley

Recording date: 20 March 2009

Time of day: 3pm

Location: OS reference 2439 9205. Ross Avenue, about 300 feet due west of the grid point due to presence of a building site.

Description: Noises from a building site: construction vehicles and power tools, thumps and bangs. Faint birdsong, aircraft drone towards the end.

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.