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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.

Blackstock Road N4 June 2:00

Grid square: Stroud Green, Seven Sisters, Stoke Newington

Recording date: 25 June 2015

Time of day: 3.20pm

Location: Blackstock Road by junction with Ambler Road, Islington.

Description: Loud traffic on Blackstock Road, voices of adults and children walking past.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Nick Hamilton.

Romilly Road N4 June 2:00

Grid square: Stroud Green, Seven Sisters, Stoke Newington

Recording date: 25 June 2015

Time of day: 3.15pm

Location: Halfway along Romilly Road, Islington.

Description: Footsteps, voices of children and adults, birdsong, slamming of car doors, cars move slowly along Romilly Road, distant traffic, music from a car, the wind stirs nearby foliage, calls of swifts.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Nick Hamilton.

Quill Street north N4 June 2:00

Grid square: Stroud Green, Seven Sisters, Stoke Newington

Recording date: 25 June 2015

Time of day: 2.55pm

Location: North end of Quill Street, Islington.

Description: Airplane drone, the wind stirs foliage nearby, a front door is slammed shut twice, voices and footsteps of passersby, a train passes along a nearby railway line, noises from a van being unloaded.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Nick Hamilton.

Plimsoll Road N4 April 2:00

Grid square: Stroud Green, Seven Sisters, Stoke Newington

Recording date: 20 April 2013

Time of day: 3.40pm

Location: Junction of Plimsoll Road and Prah Road, Finsbury Park, north London.

Description: Faint voices in a quiet residential street, a car passes playing music, birdsong, a woman pushes a buggy along the pavement, two men emerge from a pub and talk.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Rock Street N4 April 2:00

Grid square: Stroud Green, Seven Sisters, Stoke Newington

Recording date: 20 April 2013

Time of day: 3.30pm

Location: Junction of Rock Street and Prah Road, Finsbury Park, north London.

Description: Traffic, voices of men standing around and passing the time in small groups at the junction, someone rides slowly past on a bicycle, music from a passing car.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Thunder and rain Stoke Newington 1:56

Grid square: Stroud Green, Seven Sisters, Stoke Newington

Recording date: 22 June 2009

Time of day: 6.28pm

Location: Stoke Newington, north-east London.

Description: Raindrops and rush of rainwater, thunder, the rain grows more intense, faint birdsong

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 4060 mics, Nagra Ares P2 recorder.

Recorded by: Richard Beard

Additional notes: Many thanks to Richard Beard for sharing this recording.

Bendy bus Stoke Newington 1:45

Grid square: Stroud Green, Seven Sisters, Stoke Newington

Recording date: 28 February 2006

Time of day: 5.25pm

Location: Stoke Newington, north-east London.

Description: Sounds recorded inside a moving bendy bus with deep growl of engine, rattling of interior fittings, ding of the bell.

Technical guff: Stereo. Nagra stereo mic, Nagra Ares P2 recorder.

Recorded by: Richard Beard

Additional notes: Many thanks to Richard Beard for sharing this recording.

Supermarket checkout Stamford Hill 1:08

Grid square: Stroud Green, Seven Sisters, Stoke Newington

Recording date: 11 March 2006

Time of day: 11.20am

Location: Morrisons supermarket, Stamford Hill.

Description: Supermarket ambience with beeping of checkout tills close by, rustling of carrier bags, a mobile phone rings and a man answers.

Technical guff: Stereo. Nagra stereo mic, Nagra Ares P2 recorder.

Recorded by: Richard Beard

Additional notes: Many thanks to Richard Beard for sharing this recording.

New River West Reservoir 1:00

Grid square: Stroud Green, Seven Sisters, Stoke Newington

Recording date: 29 December 2011

Time of day: 3.15pm

Location: By West Reservoir, Manor House, north London.

Description: Cries of gulls and ducks on the West Reservoir, distant traffic, faint airplane drone, the wind stirs nearby foliage.

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 Hornsey Depot 1:00

Grid square: Stroud Green, Seven Sister, Stoke Newington

Recording date: 27 August 2011

Time of day: 3pm

Location: On the New River path by Hornsey train depot, north London.

Description: Distant traffic, faint sound of the breeze stirring leaves on trees, a train passes and sounds its horn.

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 Seven Sisters Bridge 1:00

Grid square: Stroud Green, Seven Sister, Stoke Newington

Recording date: 27 August 2011

Time of day: 2.15pm

Location: By Seven Sisters Bridge near junction with Amhurst Road, Stamford Hill, north London.

Description: Loud traffic from Amhurst Road and Seven Sisters Road, deep noise of water churning and bubbling in a covered culvert feeding into the New River.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Sony PCM M10.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

New River Harringay Ladder 1:00

Grid square: Stroud Green, Seven Sister, Stoke Newington

Recording date: 27 August 2011

Time of day: 2.40pm

Location: Duckett Road, Harringay, north London.

Description: Quiet ambience in a residential street with traffic passing along Wightman Road to the west, faint birdsong.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Sony PCM M10 recorder.

Recorded by: I M Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Seven Sisters Road 1:30

Grid square: Stroud Green, Seven Sisters, Stoke Newington

Recording date: 15 September 2010

Time of day: 9.30pm

Location: Seven Sisters Road under Finsbury Park station.

Description: Slight echoing ambience of traffic on Seven Sisters Road under Finsbury Park station, voices of passersby.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Perfect Chicken Blackstock Road 1:00

Grid square: Stroud Green, Seven Sisters, Stoke Newington

Recording date: 15 September 2010

Time of day: 10pm

Location: Perfect Chicken takeaway, Blackstock Road, Finsbury Park.

Description: Hubbub of voices inside a busy fast food takeaway. Sound of chicken wings dumped in the deep fat fryer, voices of staff at the counter.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x MM-HLSO/Sennheiser MKE-2 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Seven Sisters indoor market 1:55

Grid square: Stroud Green, Seven Sisters, Stoke Newington

Recording date: 7 July 2010

Time of day: 4.30pm

Location: Seven Sisters indoor market, next to Seven Sisters tube station.

Description: Recorded while walking around the maze-like interior of the market. Voices of staff and customers at a cafe in the market, voices and recorded music from various stalls and little shop units.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x MM-HLSO/Sennheiser MKE-2 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Marred in places by wind noise, to which these mics are very sensitive. The wind source was ceiling fans in the market.

Marcus Garvey Library Seven Sisters 2:00

Grid square: Stroud Green, Seven Sisters, Stoke Newington

Recording date: 7 July 2010

Time of day: 5.30pm

Location: Marcus Garvey public library, Tottenham Green Centre, Seven Sisters.

Description: Library ambience with air conditioning hum, people turning pages of newspapers and books, a man mutters briefly to himself.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x MM-HLSO/Sennheiser MKE-2 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 3231 8826 1:00

Grid square: Stroud Green, Seven Sisters, Stoke Newington

Recording date: 16 February 2009

Time of day: 3.00pm

Location: OS reference TQ 3231 8826. Entrance to Arena Business Centre off Oakdale Road.

Description: A constant and regular clattering noise from equipment used to repair the railway line just east of Harringay Green Lanes station. Some other sounds made by workmen, and aircraft drone.

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.