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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.

Hendon Road N9 June 2:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 13 June 2015

Time of day: 3.15pm

Location: Halfway along Hendon Road, north London.

Description: A dog barks, noise of a power saw, children's voices, airplane drone, faint birdsong, distant traffic, sounds of desultory activity in the street.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Bounces Lane N9 June 2:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 13 June 2015

Time of day: 3.05pm

Location: Towards south end of Bounces Lane, north London.

Description: Distant traffic, birdsong, a child's voice from inside a flat, intermittent sound of a nail gun in the mid-distance, airplane drone.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Cornwallis Road N9 June 2:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 13 June 2015

Time of day: 2.25pm

Location: Halfway along Cornwallis Road, north London.

Description: Distant traffic, slamming of car doors, footsteps and voices of passersby, airplane drone, a heavy object is dragged across the pavement, faint birdsong, a dog barks, music from a radio in a house, occasional passing vehicles.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Bath Road N9 June 2:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 13 June 2015

Time of day: 2.15pm

Location: Bath Road near junction with Exeter Road, north London.

Description: Constant traffic in distance, children's voices, occasional vehicles passing closer by along Bath Road and Exeter Road, faint airplane drone, a man speaks into a mobile phone on the other side of the road.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Lee Park Way south June 2:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 13 June 2015

Time of day: 1.40pm

Location: Lee Park Way near the ward boundary, parallel with the south end of the William Girling reservoir, north London.

Description: Constant noise of industrial machinery, birdsong, cawing of crows, faint sound of coronal discharge from power lines, occasional bangs and thumps in the distance.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Lee Park Way north June 2:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 13 June 2015

Time of day: 1.25pm

Location: North end of Lee Park Way near junction with Picketts Lock Lane, north London.

Description: Distant traffic, buzz of coronal discharge from an electricity pylon, birdsong, intermittent noises and indistinct voices from a nearby council depot, the wind stirs foliage.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Some wind noise on mic present.

Picketts Lock Lane bridge N9 June 2:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 13 June 2015

Time of day: 1.05pm

Location: Picketts Lock Lane where it crosses the railway line, north London.

Description: Loud constant traffic on Meridian Way, birdsong close by, a deep continuous hum possibly from overhead railway power lines.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Kariba Close N9 June 2:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 13 June 2015

Time of day: 12.50pm

Location: East end of Kariba Close, north London.

Description: Distant traffic, a man and a woman talk as they walk from a nearby house, faint music from a radio heard briefly, distant banging noises from an industrial estate, an indistinct sound from a radio heard towards the end.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

St Malo Avenue N9 June 2:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 13 June 2015

Time of day: 12.40pm

Location: South end of St Malo Avenue, north London.

Description: A woodpigeon coos, birdsong, a distant traffic, airplane drone, a woman's voice heard intermittently, faint sounds of activity in the street, a car approaches slowly playing music.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Some wind noise present.

Torn Road N9 June 2:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 13 June 2015

Time of day: 12.30pm

Location: Town Road near junction with Westoe Road, north London.

Description: Nearby traffic, voices and footsteps of passersby, a car sounds its horn, a bus slows before turning a corner.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Edmonton Green shopping centre 2:00

Grid square: South Chingford Higham

Recording date: 8 July 2013

Time of day: 1.45pm

Location: Inside Edmonton Green shopping centre, north-east London.

Description: Noisy, reverberant interior recorded while sitting on a bench. Voices and footsteps of shoppers, piped music.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Ardra Road N9 July 2:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 8 July 2013

Time of day: 1:10pm

Location: Ardra Road, Edmonton, north-east London.

Description: Humming and other sounds from surrounding factories and other workplaces, birdsong, a lorry parked nearby starts its engine.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Picketts Lock Lane N9 July 2:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 8 July 2013

Time of day: 1pm

Location: By the entrance to Deephams sewage works, Edmonton, north-east London.

Description: Traffic passing along Picketts Lock Lane and Meridian Way, the wind blows fallen leaves along the ground, faint humming noise from the sewage works, aircraft drone.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Balham Road N9 July 2:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 8 July 2013

Time of day: 11.50am

Location: Balham Road near junction with Kingston Road, Edmonton, north-east London.

Description: The doors of a nearby car are slammed, voices and desultory activity in a nearby car-wash lot, distant traffic, a woman walks past pushing a pram, background traffic.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

River Lea Lee Valley Park 1:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 6 January 2012

Time of day: 1.45pm

Location: By Lee Valley Park, facing the refuse plant off Ash Wharf, north London.

Description: Cawing of crows in nearby trees, loud metallic banging sounds from a refuse plant, other industrial 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.

River Lea Picketts Lock North 1:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 6 January 2012

Time of day: 2.10pm

Location: Immediately north of Picketts Lock, Lower Edmonton, north London.

Description: Loud, constant rushing of water flowing from the Lea into a box-like concrete structure before disappearing underground.

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.

River Lea Picketts Lock South 1:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 6 January 2012

Time of day: 2pm

Location: Immediately south of Picketts Lock, Lower Edmonton, north London.

Description: Water bubbles out of a buried pipe into the Lea close by, faint electronic beeping sounds from an industrial estate.

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.

Summer wind Tottenham Marshes 1:36

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 21 July 2010

Time of day: 6.30pm

Location: Tottenham Marshes, north-east London.

Description: Grasshoppers rasp in tall grass around, sound of a blustery late afternoon wind, distant traffic.

Technical guff: Stereo. Audio Technica BP4029 mid-side mic and Fostex FR-2LE digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Under Watermead Way 1:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 18 July 2010

Time of day: 11am

Location: In a rubbish-strewn space beneath Watermead Way dual carriageway, north-east London.

Description: Traffic noise, occasional thumps as vehicles pass overhead along Watermead Way. Pigeons roosting on ledges coo and flap their wings.

Technical guff: Stereo. Audio Technica BP4025 mic and Fostex FR-2LE digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Stonebridge Lock 1:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 18 July 2010

Time of day: 4pm

Location: Stonebridge Lock on the River Lea, at Tottenham Marshes, north-east London.

Description: Loud, discordant squealing as a barge-owner operates the winding gear on Stonebridge Lock. Voices of onlookers, distant traffic.

Technical guff: Stereo. Audio Technica BP4029 mid-side mic and Fostex FR-2LE digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 3627 9205 1:00

Grid square: South Chingford, Higham

Recording date: 20 March 2009

Time of day: 5.40pm

Location: OS reference TQ 3627 9205. A track running north from Harbet Road, alongside the River Lea aquaduct.

Description: Recording made under a tree, its trunk used as a wind-break. Constant mass traffic noise from the North Circular junction with Hall Lane. A bird cries briefly and the breeze rustles leaf litter on the ground.

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.