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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.

Swakeleys Park June 2:00

Grid square: Hillingdon

Recording date: 19 June 2015

Time of day: 2.55pm

Location: Eastern side of Swakeleys Park near Milton Road, Redbridge.

Description: Distant traffic, birdsong, women's voices at first faint then louder as they approach, a cyclist passes, airplane drone, noise from a nearby tennis court.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Milton Court UB10 June 2:00

Grid square: Hillingdon

Recording date: 19 June 2015

Time of day: 2.45pm

Location: West side of Milton Court, Hillingdon.

Description: Occasional traffic on Milton Road, more distant traffic, faint birdsong, footsteps of a passerby, a car drives past and turns onto Milton Road, a door slammed in the mid-distance.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Glebe Avenue UB10 June 2:00

Grid square: Hillingdon

Recording date: 19 June 2015

Time of day: 2.20pm

Location: Glebe Avenue near junction with Clovelly Avenue, Hillingdon.

Description: A man mows his front lawn opposite, an emergency services siren in the distance, passing traffic, chirps of sparrows, voices and footsteps of two passersby, music heard briefly from a car.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Lawrence Drive UB10 June 2:00

Grid square: Hillingdon

Recording date: 19 June 2015

Time of day: 2.15pm

Location: North part of Lawrence Drive, Hillingdon.

Description: Distant traffic, hammering from house renovation work on Lawrence Drive and voices of builders, a distant emergency services siren, the wind stirs ground litter, birdsong.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Willowtree Close UB10 July 2:00

Grid square: Hillingdon

Recording date: 13 July 2013

Time of day: 11.55am

Location: Ickenham, north-west London.

Description: A quiet residential street, tinkling of a windchime, the wind stirs foliage, noise of a vacuum cleaner in a nearby house, scraping noises further away, traffic, a man's voice heard indistinctly.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Some wind noise present.

Swakeleys Road UB10 July 2:00

Grid square: Hillingdon

Recording date: 13 July 2013

Time of day: 12.15pm

Location: Walking northwards past the parade of shops on Swakeleys Road, Ickenham, north-west London.

Description: Loud traffic passing along Swakeleys Road, voices and footsteps of pedestrians and people sitting outside a pub and a cafe.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Swakeleys Park July 2:00

Grid square: Hillingdon

Recording date: 13 July 2013

Time of day: 2.15pm

Location: Towards the south end of Swakeleys Park, Ickenham, north-west London.

Description: The wind stirs foliage, voices of a group of lads walking along a path, bird calls, a man practices golf-putting.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Court Road UB10 July 2:00

Grid square: Hillingdon

Recording date: 13 July 2013

Time of day: 2.30pm

Location: Ickenham, north-west London.

Description: Passing traffic, aircraft drone, a woman walks on the opposite side of the road, calls of a woodpigeon.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Off Long Lane UB10 July 2:00

Grid square: Hilligndon

Recording date: 13 July 2013

Time of day: 2.40pm

Location: In a field between Long Lane and Long Lane Farm, Ickenham, north-west London.

Description: Aircraft done and distant traffic rumble, calls of woodpigeons, crows and other birds, faint voices of children at play, something disturbs nearby undergrowth.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Ickenham tube station July 2:00

Grid square: Hillingdon

Recording date: 13 July 2013

Time of day: 2.55pm

Location: Ickenham, north-west London.

Description: The wind stirs foliage, aircraft drone, voices and footsteps of passengers, faint machine noises including a brief high-pitched whistling, a tube train approaches.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 0854 8447 1:00

Grid square: Hillingdon

Recording date: 27 June 2009

Time of day: 4.45pm

Location: OS grid reference TQ 0854 8447. North-east corner of Lynhurst Crescent recreation ground.

Description: Noticeable and constant traffic noise from the A40 to the north, the sound of a small stream nearby rushing through a culvert, voices of children at play in the recreation ground, birdsong, a wood pigeon coos.

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.