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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.

South Street Romford 3:25

Grid square: Romford, Hornchurch

Recording date: 21 February 2015

Time of day: 1pm

Location: Walking southwards from the junction with the High Street down South Street, Romford.

Description: Sounds of a busy Saturday afternoon along the pedestrianised part of South Street. Voices of a woman selling balloons, a group of political party canvassers, a street preacher, and a man promoting a broadband provider. A busker plays the guitar and sings 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.

River Beam Roneo Corner 1:00

Grid square: Romford, Hornchurch

Recording date: 22 January 2012

Time of day: 1.15pm

Location: A concrete passage beneath Roneo Corner, Romford.

Description: Echoing noise of water splashing from a storm pipe into a concrete channel containing the Beam, water rushing further away, a dog barks outside.

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 Rom North Street 1:00

Grid square: Romford, Hornchurch

Recording date: 22 January 2012

Time of day: 2.20pm

Location: Car park off North Street, Romford.

Description: Constant traffic passing along North Street and St Edwards Way, an emergency service siren draws closer.

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.

TQ 5211 8826 1:00

Grid square: Romford, Hornchurch

Recording date: 14/3/2009

Time of day: 2:30pm

Location: OS reference TQ 5211 8826. Brentwood Road, near junction with Boundary Road.

Description: Recorded by the roadside, vehicles pass swiftly every few seconds.

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.