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.

The Drive UB10 June 2:00

Grid square: Cowley, Uxbridge

Recording date: 19 June 2015

Time of day: 4.15pm

Location: Halfway along The Drive, Hillingdon.

Description: Distant traffic on Western Avenue, birdsong, faint helicopter or airplane drone, two cars pass along The Drive in succession, a car door slams.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Woodstock Drive UB10 July 2:00

Grid square: Cowley, Uxbridge

Recording date: 13 July 2013

Time of day: 2pm

Location: By the junction with Burford Close, Ickenham, north-west London.

Description: Traffic on Swakeleys Road, faint aircraft drone, a young couple talk as they come out of Burford Close, one of them wheels a bicycle.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 0458 8447 1:00

Grid square: Cowley, Uxbridge

Recording date: 27 June 2009

Time of day: 11.40am

Location: OS grid reference TQ 0458 8447. West end of Knighton Way Lane, overlooking a field.

Description: Birdsong, a man rides a quad bike in the next field, a cock crows at a nearby farm, distant traffic noise from the M25 and surrounding A-roads.

Technical guff: Stereo. Audio Technica BP4025 mic, Fostex FR-2LE 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.