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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.

Mutton Brook Hampstead Garden Suburb 1:00

Grid square: Cricklewood, Golders Green

Recording date: 3 February 2012

Time of day: 3.30pm

Location: Northway Gardens, Hampstead Garden Suburb.

Description: The Mutton Brook flows through and over a narrowing in the stream, birdsong, distant traffic.

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 Brent Brent Park 1:00

Grid square: Cricklewood, Golders Green

Recording date: 19 June 2011

Time of day: 2.20pm

Location: Brent Park, off the North Circular Road, north London.

Description: Trickling of the River Brent, birdsong, distant traffic, a car door is slammed, faint 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.

River Brent Brent Cross 1:00

Grid square: Cricklewood, Golders Green

Recording date: 19 June 2011

Time of day: 1.45pm

Location: Junction of Hendon Way and the North Circular Road, north London.

Description: Trickling of an outflow into the culverted River Brent, loud constant 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.

Staples Corner traffic 1:00

Grid square: Cricklewood, Golders Green

Recording date: 24 October 2009

Time of day: 11am

Location: At the Staples Corner interchange, on a walkway above the Edgware Road.

Description: Wall of traffic noise from above and below, road surfaces wet after drizzle lasting much of the morning.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 2439 8826 1:00

Grid square: Cricklewood, Golders Green

Recording date: 16 February 2009

Time of day: 12:45pm

Location: OS reference 2439 8826. Alba Gardens, off Golders Green Road.

Description: A quiet suburban street. Distant traffic noise with siren, bird song, a woman walks by on the opposite side of the 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.