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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.

Wishaw Walk N13 February 2:00

Grid square: Palmers Green, Edmonton, Tottenham

Recording date: 12 February 2015

Time of day: 1.35pm

Location: Wishaw Walk footpath off Elvendon Road, north London.

Description: Constant hum from an electricity substation close by, birdsong, distant traffic, a car door slams in the mid-distance, a train rushes past on the line to the east.

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.

Tottenhall Sports Ground N13 February 2:00

Grid square: Palmers Green, Edmonton, Tottenham

Recording date: 12 February 2015

Time of day: 2.30pm

Location: West side of Tottenhall Sports Ground, north London.

Description: Distant traffic, cries of gulls, birdsong.

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.

Pymmes Brook N13 February 2:00

Grid square: Palmers Green, Edmonton, Tottenham

Recording date: 12 February 2015

Time of day: 2.10pm

Location: By Pymme's Brook south of Millicent Grove, north London.

Description: Trickling of Pymme's Brook, birdsong, crows caw, distant traffic, faint airplane drone, sounds of activity from nearby allotments, a man coughs loudly.

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.

Chequers Way N13 February 2:00

Grid square: Palmers Green, Edmonton, Tottenham

Recording date: 12 February 2015

Time of day: 2pm

Location: Chequers Way opposite the Arla dairy, north London.

Description: Constant noise of machinery from the dairy, traffic passing close by, noise of milk tankers.

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.

Beech Road N11 May 2:00

Grid square: Palmers Green, Edmonton, Tottenham

Recording date: 1 May 2013

Time of day: 2.40pm

Location: Beech Road by the railway line, Bowes Park, north London.

Description: A couple walk past along an alleyway flankiing the railway line, a train engine idles, birdsong, faint traffic and aircraft drone, a householder puts rubbish in a bin.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Green Lanes N13 May 2:00

Grid square: Palmers Green, Edmonton, Tottenham

Recording date: 1 May 2013

Time of day: 3.10pm

Location: Green Lanes by the junction with Princes Avenue, Bowes Park, north London.

Description: Traffic, men's voices, a woman's voice and footsteps as she passes, music from vehicles, a car door is slammed.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Fairbrook Close N13 May 2:00

Grid square: Palmers Green, Edmonton, Tottenham

Recording date: 1 May 2013

Time of day: 3.15pm

Location: Fairbrook Close off Princes Avenue, Palmers Green, north London.

Description: A vehicle pulls away, voices of men on the other side of the street, hammering, aircraft drone, birdsong.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Bowes Road N13 May 2:00

Grid square: Palmers Green, Edmonton, Tottenham

Recording date: 1 May 2013

Time of day: 2.50pm

Location: Bowes Road section of the North Circular by the New River, Bowes Park, north London.

Description: Constant, heavy traffic passing along the North Circular/Bowes Road.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Belsize Avenue N13 May 2:00

Grid square: Palmers Green, Edmonton, Tottenham

Recording date: 1 May 2013

Time of day: 3pm

Location: Belsize Avenue, Bowes Park, north London.

Description: Loud birdsong in a residential street, swifts are heard briefly, occasional traffic, a power tool buzzes in the mid-distance.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Tottenhall Road N13 May 2:00

Grid square: Palmers Green, Edmonton, Tottenham

Recording date: 1 May 2013

Time of day: 3.20pm

Location: Tottenhall Road by the junction with Wolves Lane, Palmers Green, north London.

Description: Loud traffic close by, faint voices of people sitting outside a pub opposite, a woman and her child walk past.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Pymmes Brook Tanners End 1:00

Grid square: Palmers Green, Edmonton, Tottenham

Recording date: 6 January 2012

Time of day: 1pm

Location: Tanners End Lane, Edmonton, north London.

Description: Loud rushing of Pymme's Brook as it passes beneath Tanners End Lane, passing traffic on Silver Street, faint birdsong.

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.

New River Palmers Green 1:00

Grid square: Palmers Green, Edmonton, Tottenham

Recording date: 3 September 2011

Time of day: 3.40pm

Location: Immediately north of Oakthorpe Road, Palmers Green, north London.

Description: Traffic, children play outside a small mosque, birdsong, airplane drone, in a back garden a mastiff begins barking.

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 Bowes Park 1:00

Grid square: Palmers Green, Edmonton, Tottenham

Recording date: 3 September 2011

Time of day: 3.25pm

Location: Bowes Park north of Bowes Road, north London.

Description: Water rushes from a drain into Pymme's Brook as it emerges from a tunnel beneath a railway line, faint birdsong.

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.

Wood Green Shopping City 1:30

Grid square: Palmers Green, Edmonton, Tottenham

Recording date: 27 August 2011

Time of day: 4pm

Location: Inside Wood Green Shopping City, north London.

Description: Sounds recorded while wandering around the ground floor of the shopping centre with adults' and children's voices, music from concealed speakers overhead, louder and busier ambience towards the end.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x MM-HLSO/Sennheiser MKE-2 mics, Sony PCM M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Wood Green tube night 1:24

Grid square: Palmers Green Edmonton Tottenham

Recording date: 12 December 2009

Time of day: 9pm

Location: At the entrance to Wood Green tube station.

Description: On the left channel, sounds of the tube station, including recorded classical music, there presumably to have a calming effect or drive away youths. On the right channel, sounds of traffic, music from cars and a pub opposite. Voices and footsteps of people passing in and out of the station.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 3231 9205 1:00

Grid square: Palmers Green, Tottenham

Recording date: 20 March 2009

Time of day: 4.45pm

Location: OS reference 3231 9205. End of Queensland Avenue, a residential street, around 400 feet due west of the grid point, which falls inside a fenced-off area of overgrown land.

Description: A sparrow chirps close by throughout, faint sounds of activity in the street: a child's voice, hammering, and less distinct noises. Steady traffic noise from the North Circular and the A10, about a quarter of a mile away.

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.