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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.

Evesham Road N11 December 2:00

Grid square: Friern Barnet, Bounds Green

Recording date: 15 December 2015

Time of day: 12.25pm

Location: Halfway along Evesham Road, north London.

Description: Airplane drone, a car engine idles close by before moving off, another car approaches and comes to a stop, car doors slam, faint sounds of desultory activity close by, another car drives past.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Maidstone Road N11 December 2:00

Grid square: Friern Barnet, Bounds Green

Recording date: 15 December 2015

Time of day: 12.20pm

Location: Middle of Maidstone Road west of the tube line, north London.

Description: Birdsong nearby, a van revs up and drives past, traffic in mid-distance, a metallic scraping heard briefly, a trundling sound from a wheeled bin.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Tewkesbury Terrace N11 December 2:00

Grid square: Friern Barnet, Bounds Green

Recording date: 15 Decemver 2015

Time of day: 12.10pm

Location: On the green space at the east end of Tewkesbury Terrace, north London.

Description: Loud constant traffic on Bounds Green Road nearby, occasional squeal of brakes, brief airplane drone.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Warwick Road N11 February 2:00

Grid square: Friern Barnet, Bounds Green

Recording date: 12 February 2015

Time of day: 1.15pm

Location: Warwick Road near junction with Wakefield Road, north London.

Description: Airplane drone, distant traffic, a small child's voice, vehicles passing along Warwick Road.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Paul Tourle.

Maidstone Road N11 February 2:00

Grid square: Friern Barnet, Bounds Green

Recording date: 12 February 2015

Time of day: 1.05pm

Location: West end of Maidstone Road, north London.

Description: Birdsong, distant traffic, a car drives past close by, slamming of a car door, a dog barks in the mid-distance, a tube train passes by to the west.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Paul Tourle.

Elvendon Road N13 February 2:00

Grid square: Friern Barnet, Bounds Green

Recording date: 12 February 2015

Time of day: 1.25pm

Location: Elvendon Road near junction with Brownlow Road, north London.

Description: Constant passing traffic, voice of a man walking by on the other side of the road, footsteps.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Paul Tourle.

Warwick Road N11 May 2:00

Grid square: Friern Barnet, Bounds Green

Recording date: 1 May 2013

Time of day: 2.20pm

Location: Warwick Road near junction with Wakefield Road, Bowes Park, north London.

Description: Birdsong, occasional traffic, aircraft drone, a man coughs some distance away.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Shrewsbury Road N11 May 2:00

Grid square: Friern Barnet, Bounds Green

Recording date: 1 May 2013

Time of day: 2.10pm

Location: Shrewsbury Road, Bowes Park, north London.

Description: Residential street with faint craft drone, birdsong, a car pulls away, car doors slam in the street, a constant machine tone in the distance.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Pymmes Brook Brunswick Park 1:00

Grid square: Friern Barnet, Bounds Green

Recording date: 23 December 2011

Time of day: 2.50pm

Location: Middle of Brunswick Park, north London.

Description: Faint sound of Pymme's Brook, birdsong, a crow caws, a man's voice in the mid-distance, distant traffic, airplane drone.

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 9205 1:00

Grid square: Friern Barnet, Bounds Green

Recording date: 20 March 2009

Time of day: 3.40pm

Location: OS reference 2835 9205. Highgrove Close, around 150 feet south of the grid point, which falls inside the Princes Park Manor gated housing development.

Description: Sustained aircraft drone, a door slams, a scooter sputters past, some wind noise, background otherwise quiet.

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.