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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.

Conway Gardens HA9 April 2:00

Grid square: Harrow, North Wembley

Recording date: 12 April 2015

Time of day: 3.30pm

Location: West end of Conway Gardens, north-west London.

Description: The wind stirs foliage, distinct traffic with emergency services siren, a dog barks in the distance, twigs and leaves skitter on the ground, faint birdsong, two cars pull in close by, trains pass in 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.

Elmstead Avenue HA9 April 2:00

Grid square: Harrow, North Wembley

Recording date: 12 April 2015

Time of day: 3.10pm

Location: Elmstead Avenue just south of junction with Princess Avenue, north-west London.

Description: Occasional passing cars, birdsong, the wind stirs nearby foliage, indistinct sound of a radio in mid-distance, a light airplane buzzes, desultory activity in the street, faint children's voices towards end.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Preston Road HA9 April 2:00

Grid square: Harrow, North Wembley

Recording date: 12 April 2015

Time of day: 2.55pm

Location: Preston Road north of junction with Carlton Avenue East, north-west London.

Description: Loud noise of bus moving off close by, busy traffic on Preston Road, indistinct voices and footsteps of passersby.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Warren Close HA9 April 2:00

Grid square: Harrow, North Wembley

Recording date: 12 April 2015

Time of day: 2.45pm

Location: Warren Close, north-west London.

Description: A man and later a woman walk past close by, birdsong, traffic in mid-distance, the wind stirs foliage, indistinct voices, a crow caws, a car passes close by.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder. Some wind noise on recording. Roll off at 100Hz.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

St Augustines Avenue HA9 April 2:00

Grid square: Harrow, North Wembley

Recording date: 12 April 2015

Time of day: 2.30pm

Location: North end of St Augustine's Avenue near junction with Preston Road, north-west London.

Description: Airplane drone, birdsong, traffic in mid-distance, two people walk past in succession close by, a car passes along the street.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Preston Park July 2:00

Grid square: Harrow, North Wembley

Recording date: 15 July 2013

Time of day: 1.50pm

Location: Middle of Preston Park, north-west London.

Description: Squealing noises as a child plays on a swing, her mother speaks to her, cries of other children at play, birdsong.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Ambleside Gardens HA9 July 2:00

Grid square: Harrow, North Wembley

Recording date: 15 July 2013

Time of day: 2.10pm

Location: Cul-de-sac end of Ambleside Gardens, Preston, north-west London.

Description: Quiet residential street with faint sounds from nearby houses, the wind rustles foliage, a train passes in the distance, a car approaches towards the end.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Windermere Avenue HA9 July 2:00

Grid square: Harrow, North Wembley

Recording date: 15 July 2013

Time of day: 2.20pm

Location: Tiny cul-de-sac leading off Windermere Avenue by South Kenton station, north-west London.

Description: Faint mechanical sounds from South Kenton station, a woman's voice in a nearby house, two trains pass by at speed, one sounds its horn, footsteps.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Pempath Place HA9 July 2:00

Grid square: Harrow, North Wembley

Recording date: 15 July 2013

Time of day: 2.35pm

Location: Pempath Place off Strathcona Road, North Wembley, north-west London.

Description: Noises from a building site in the mid-distance, faint domestic sounds from the surrounding homes in Pempath Place, trains in the distance, a car passes close by, footsteps.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

East Lane Business Park July 2:00

Grid square: Harrow. North Wembley

Recording date: 15 July 2013

Time of day: 3pm

Location: South-west corner of playing fields next to the East Lane Business Park, north-west London.

Description: Hum of machinery, hammering and drone of a power-saw, metallic clanging, voices of workers standing outdoors.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Some wind noise present.

TQ 1647 8826 1:00

Grid square: Harrow, North Wembley

Recording date: 16 February 2009

Time of day: 11.10am

Location: OS reference TQ 1647 8826. Cul-de-sac end of Rufford Close, off Kenton Road.

Description: The cul-de-sac is deserted except for a workman unloading a cable spool from a van. Bird song, distant traffic noise and a siren from Kenton Road.

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.